The Top 10 Horror Movies of 2018
“The map had been the first form of misdirection, for what is a map but a way of emphasizing some things and making other things invisible?”
-Jeff VandeMeer Annihilation
I struggled with the list this year. Inherently some things make it while others do not. By creating a heirarchy we are limiting the voice of others. So go see all of these movies. Then go see a bunch of movies that didn’t make out list. Then go see more movies. Particularly movies that come from marginalized voices or places of the world.
Suspiria is an arthouse horror movie. It is also a REALLY slow burn. This is not the type of scary movie that acts as an ambassador bringing new people into the genre. Its plot is slow so as to build tension, its kills are quite brutal, and its imagery is stark. If you are a fan of horror these are all selling points. I enjoyed this immensely but with the same trepidation I enjoyed Mandy. It works for me in every aspect, but I am a specific type of movie critic. One who is steeped in the genre. I thought it was wonderful but is not higher on my list because in a year full of great movies it was not as multidimensional as the others.
First. I didn’t love this movie as much as some. That being said it is crazy and bonkers and in this day and age feels like a minor miracle something this self indulgent could get made. It feels like Chucky Cheese had a fever dream and Nicholas Cage and a battle ax comprised the central characters. I also had to include it on my list because of its cultural importance. I feel in my bones that horror fans will be discussing this movie years from now. The Cheddar Goblin really feels like it deserves a place in the same pantheon as Slimer. What Hi-C flavor will they make about the cheddar goblin I wonder?
This VandeMeer classic had every element working against it. It had a fan base that was rabid, and devoted. I don’t mean devoted to VandeMeer (They most certainly are that as well). I mean devoted to the minutae that makes the book so terrifying and complex. Annihilation exists as a grail for many fans of the “New Weird”. The movie has managed for the most part to live up to those expectations. While hardly a perfect film, it captures a lot of the animalistic ambiguity that the books really hint at. It is a fantastical movie with real world implications and its cinematic ending is both heart breaking and bizarre. As I get older this book increases in importance and I was thrilled the movie at least took a swing at how emotional it really is.
7. They Remain
I saw They Remain at Panic Fest at the beginning of 2018. It is a testament to Director Phillip Gelatt that this is a movie that is never far from our thoughts or nightmares. The movie has a distinct literary quality that can be directly attributed to the short story by Laird Barron that it is based off of. -30- is full of the ambiguity and dread that makes reading Barron so challenging and so fun. It does not hurt that the movie employs the tremendous William Jackson Harper. This role is a far cry from his breakout comedic role as Chidi in A Good Place but he brings the same earnestness which makes his character likable and tragic. They Remain is a slow burn with no real monster or gore. The scare is almost all psychological which is what makes it so special.
Pyewacket is a small budget film that gets everything right. When I reviewed Pyewacket last summer I mentioned just how powerful the movie’s portrayal of high school life was. It gets at just how alienating the experience can be and how lonely our children can become. The monster is rare and the dread is mostly built in the shadows but the real scare comes from the change that adolescence can bring. As our children grow and develop their own sense of autonomy that scares the hell out of all of us. Pyewacket is a simple but fantastic piece of film making.
5. The Endless
I admit I really enjoyed Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s first film Resolution. It was weird and creepy. Perhaps most important it had a rye sense of humor that engaged the audience. It didn’t take itself too serious. Benson and Moorhead managed all of those qualities while also adding in a fair amount of heart with The Endless. The chemistry between the two leads, coupled with the cosmic horror that I am always down to explore made this film an absolute gem. The film is smart in how it handles the scenario, smart in how it handles its relationships and smart in how it handles the horror elements of the movie.
Revenge is another film you can check out on Shudder. It is a rape revenge film like no other. Director Coralie Fargeat gives us a gorgeous movie that uses its copious amount of gore to show us the transition that lead actress Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz has to make between victim without agency to full on survivor. All done without the typical male gaze which we see a lot of in this sub genre. The movie is unflinching. It is intense. It also has perhaps the most satisfying payoff of the year. It’s french influence is felt from the beginning and also manages to engage in some meta commentary about sexual assault, guns, and toxic masculinity. Its really good. Go watch it now
The highest “independent” movie on our list. We first saw it at Fantastic Fest and we absolutely loved it. The brutality in this first kill sets the tone for the entire film. It is not just a haunted house film. It is a haunted neighborhood film. How bad ass is that. If bad things linger in places where we have seen traumatic events than why not haunted neighborhoods, cities, or even countries (MAGGA-Make American Ghosts Great Again). The innovative storytelling and incredible monsters make this Argentinian movie our favorite from the festival circuit and one of our favorites of the year. Check it out now on Shudder.
2. A Quiet Place
I am a sucker for a family story. A Quiet place is just that type of movie. It has a ton of heart. It also feels like it is at least partially a throw back to the Speilbergian films of the eighties. It has a great monster concept and while its scenario has been compared to Bird Box I think the two are different enough. I guess we can judge for ourselves in a few days. John Krasinski hit this movie out of the park. While I am dubious about the sequel this movie is more than just a horror movie. It is a movie about the complexity of creating and maintaining a family. It hit me hard. The emotional punch alone elevates it on my list.
Alright. We aren’t that inventive. Hereditary had a big budget, a ton of publicity and a marketing plan crafted for horror at this moment. It is no wonder it rocked the box office. My argument here though is that the performances alone warrant its place at the top of the list. Toni Collette has already been up for a number of awards and while she faces stiff competition against other prestige performances. She could win. Couple her performance with a story that is deeply unsettling and you have a near perfect horror movie. It gave us enough information that we were terrified but left enough questions that we have been thinking about it since we watched it.
The Ranger, CAM, Anna and the Apocalypse, The Witch in the Window, Unfriended: Dark Web, The Ritual, Veronica, Overlord, Halloween.
Tyler has been the editor in chief of Signal Horizon since its conception. He is also the Director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University a class that pairs horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he is not watching, teaching or thinking about horror he is the Director of Debate and Forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.