The Top 10 Horror Movies of 2019
Horror is here. It is loud, it is bloody and it has something to say. Since the beginning of Signal Horizon we as a community have we had a year quite like this one. Here are the Top 10 Horror Movies of 2019. I didn’t use a metric. I also didn’t say best. These are just my favorites
10. Gags the Clown
I caught Gags at Panic Fest in 2019 with the Writers John Pata and Adam Krause introducing the film. Its no secret I love found footage and the movie uses that format to tell a evil clown story. That within itself is not all that nuanced. However some of the peripheral characters add a sense of political urgency that make it feel relevant. It also has an ending that is both really fun but also taps into some cosmic dread I just wasn’t expecting. Its not that the movie is deep, it never pretends that is. Rather the movie actually becomes more than a sum of its parts which often times deeper movies fail to deliver. Its a small movie that is hella engaging. Green Bay has never looked so spooky. I was really excited when Bloody Disgusting picked it up for distribution. Its a great way to start off my list of the top 10 horror movies of 2019.
9. The Perfection
Speaking of movies that are mean in a great way. The Perfection almost feels like three different horror movies representing three different horror genres. Each of those movies is excellent in its own right. Using heavy influences from movies like American Mary also helps endear itself to me. Allison Williams is absolutely incredible but its really when she works directly with Logan Browning that the movie shines. The chemistry, both good and malevolent, make the entire film pop. I caught it at Fantastic Fest but it got its wide release through Netflix which is the only movie for the streaming giant that made my list.
Ok, here is the deal. As I get farther away from this movie the less I believe this movie was really for me. I couldn’t really connect with a lot of the interpersonal issues at the root of the conflict and i generally felt like there weren’t a lot of characters to root for. That being said I dug the general atmosphere that Ari Aster builds. I love that this is a movie that builds dread in the daylight. Folk horror, especially American Folk Horror is making a comeback and as we look back on its renaissance this movie may mark its rebirth.
So if the movie Rudy was a killer crocodile movie it might look a little like this film. The movie has Barry Pepper as a father to a college swimmer (is he really old enough to play that…shit I am old). That college swimmer is played with a freshness by Kaya Scodelario. Of all of the movies on this list this one was probably the most fun to watch. Alexandre Aja has a bit of mixed record as I really did not like High Tension but Piranha 3D was a campy romp. Crawl seems to be perfectly situated between these two.
Larry Fessenden does Frankenstein. Depraved is an excellent adaptation of the classic movie monster. Our monster Adam, is played with such sincerity we can’t help but feel sorry for from minute one. The rest of the movie plays out with relative predictability. That isn’t a criticism as the plot simplicity allows Fessenden to discuss all kinds of other issues. War, trauma, masculinity, redemption are all different paints that the director uses to update an older story. The final scene and voice over alone is reason enough to include it on this list.
This movie hit me like a goddamn ton of bricks. A movie ostensibly about a mixtape that brings on the apocalypse is really an artists treatise on loss, grief and depression. Its use of horrific monsters only ensures the horror credibility of Director Al White. As unsubtle as some of these other films on this list are White allows the audience to grow with the film. He trusts us to follow him on his journey and the ending is as ambiguous as a Paul Tremblay novel. Of all of the movies on this list we are most eagerly awaiting this Blu-ray release along with a directors commentary. Let me into the head of Al White please!
4. The Lighthouse
A movie about two men stuck in a giant phallus….Sign me up….I think. Robert Eggers does not shy away from presenting the life of a wicky as something less than desirable but alas Robert Pattinson is bound and determined to make it work even if his partner is a less than helpful Willem Dafoe. I left this movie hating bed pans and loving porcelain mermaid dolls. I think that means it was successful. The aspect ratio is bizarre, almost as much as the movie. If you don’t like its placement go drink some Kerosene. Don’t forget to sweeten it first with some honey…You know so it burns less going down.
Jordan Peele’s sophomore feature didn’t finish quite as high as his first film but its still pretty darn great. From the C.H.U.D. easter egg in the beginning of the movie to the dark and deadly connection to Hands Across America, Peele captures the cultural zeitgeist like no other director. This movie is less tight than Get Out. Its plot is less concrete, but I think that’s the point. Us is about what it is to be an American. What it is to turn a blind eye towards the suffering around us. It’s a horror story for our collective conscious. Us maybe the largest campaign commercial and 2020 is an election year.
Bong Joon Ho captured my attention with Snowpiercer, a high concept science fiction thriller that looks to be a blend between Das Kapital and Metropolis. When Neon released his newest movie under the pretense that again Ho was discussing class but this time in terms of a horror movie, I ran to the theatre. It is runner up on my top 10 horror movies of 2019 for one reason. It is really light on the horror. No other movie on this list takes quite as big of a swing and while I would hesitate to call it a full blown horror movie it certainly highlights the horror of poverty unlike anything I have ever scene.
1. Tigers Are Not Afraid
This haunting children’s story tore my heart out when I saw it two years ago at Panic Fest and left it beating in front of me. Director Issa Lopez’s masterpiece seemed to be in distribution limbo for the past two years but with its release on Shudder the rest of the world finally got a chance to have its heart ripped out too. If there is a perfect movie for our time it has to be this one. Its blend of political commentary and magical realism gives us the vulnerability of a child coupled with the real world consequences of being an adult. My heart still hurts….mostly cause its out of my body. That’s why its my number one of the top 10 horror movies of 2019.
Honorable Mentions: It Chapter 2, In the Tall Grass, Little Monsters, Sea Fever, Doctor Sleep, and Sweetheart.
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.