Scary movies need no excuse; they’re acceptable year-round. 2018 was chock-full of horror of all types – possessions, campy teen thrills, period pieces, monsters, hauntings, sequels and prequels. It can be hard to remember what was released this year, let alone remembering what was worth a marathon revisit. We’ve done the hard work for you with 18 reviews of the best and worst that 2018 had to offer.

The Best:

Halloween

Directed by David Gordon Green, this cult classic is 40 years in the making. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) faces Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney, Nick Castle) after he escapes his transport vehicle and goes on a killing spree. The remake is the best one yet with the original actors and developed plot. 10/10 would recommend.

Cam

Released on Netflix, Alice (Madeline Brewer) is a camgirl who finds out someone who looks just like her has hijacked her account. The movie normalizes and doesn’t sexualize sex workers, which is refreshing. The movie is also truly scary because of its parallels to bots and data mining.

A Quiet Place

After creatures with sensitive hearing destroy the majority of Earth’s population, the Abbott family lives is silence. Written and directed by John Krasinski, the box-office hit generated more than $50 billion on opening weekend. While not strictly horror, the movie is psychologically disturbing because of the lack of dialogue. The movie also made headlines because of the casting of deaf actress Millicent Simmonds who plays Regan Abbott, the deaf daughter.

The Ritual

Four old college friends go on a hiking trip to commemorate the memory of their friend that was murdered in a robbery. While hiking along King’s Trail, in Sarek National Park in northern Sweden, the friends come across Scandinavian mythology that kills. The upscale campy flick is the perfect choice to cuddle up with a blanket and avoid physical exercise.

The Haunting of Hill House

Although not a movie, the Netflix horror series deserves a spot on this list. The episodes focus on the Crain family who lived in the Hill House when the children were younger. The episodes are slow, but they build suspense and genuine horror – they’re few jump scares and the horror elements are subtle and at times metaphorical. The show addresses a haunted house, but also drug addiction, mental illness, suicide and grief.

Bird Box

Directed by Susanne Bier, the psychological horror investigates an invisible, apocalyptic force that drives everyone who looks at it to suicide. Malorie (Sandra Bullock) and her two children Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) and Boy (Julian Edwards) must risk their lives and make the dangerous trek to safety. The Netflix movie is based on the 2014 novel by Josh Malerman. It is significant that when someone looks at the light and sees their worst fear, the audience never sees one fear therefore they never see the force, which intensifies the force as its own horror element. When you watch this, shut the blinds.

Suspiria

Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson), an American ballerina, travels to Berlin to study ballet at the Markos Tanz Company, a distinguished school. Patricia Hingle (Chloë Grace Moretz), another student, was expelled and murdered, but not before she confided in someone a dark secret about the school. Luca Guadagnino (Call Me by Your Name) breathes new life into Suspiria, which was technically a remake of the 1977 cult classic of the same name. The movie is the good weird that true horror lovers want in a movie. The scares are more artistic that practical.

Apostle

In 1905, Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) makes his way to a remote island to rescue his sister after she is kidnapped by a religious cult. Directed and written by Gareth Evans, this period piece was picked up by Netflix. What makes this movie truly scary is not monsters or possession, but man. The film digs into the horrors that man can inflict when threatened.

Hereditary

This psychological horror is Ari Aster’s first directorial feature debut and he doesn’t disappoint. When her mother passes away, Annie (Toni Collette), her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), son Peter (Alex Wolff) and daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) mourn the loss in different ways. With an insane twist about the family’s generational history, the film revamps traditional horror. When you watch this one, be glad that your family isn’t this one.

The Worst:

Terrifer

Directed by Damien Leone, this slasher is based on the cult anthology, All Hallows Eve. Terrifer isn’t the worst by any means, it’s more of a cult classic filled with buckets of blood. It’s on the list because it definitely wasn’t the best, but it’s not a god-awful, groan-inducing watch. Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton) frightens and slices two girls and anyone else in his path on Halloween night. With a mediocre plot and gore up the wazoo, this slice n’ dice gush fest is a guilty pleasure on Halloween.

The Open House

Naomi Wallace (Piercey Dalton) and her son Logan (Dylan Minnette) temporarily move into a house on the market after her husband dies in a car accident. Because the house is for sale, Naomi and Logan have to evacuate every day for the showings. When they come home at night, they notice missing objects and strange sounds. The premise of the movie doesn’t make sense — why would you move into a home on the market and then feel comfortable enough to sleep at night fully aware that strangers were roaming the house all day? Other than the big name of Minette and the fact that 

Netflix bought the rights to it, the movie just isn’t scary.

The Possession of Hannah Grace

Directed by Diederik Van Rooijen, The Possession of Hannah Grace is just another bad possession movie. While working the night shift of intake at a morgue, Megan Reed (Shay Mitchell) receives the mangled body of Hannah Grace (Kirby Johnson), who died mid-exorcism months ago. Things go awry when Megan seems to believe that Hannah isn’t really dead and is still possessed. The movie offered no real originality. Mitchell’s name is the only thing going for this one.

The Nun

As a prequel of The Conjuring 2, The Nun is directed by Corin Hardy. The plot is weak, the ending is cliché and the scares are cheap. A nun takes her own life and the Vatican sends a priest, Father Burke (Demián Bichir) and a young novitiate, Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate the incident, which turns out to be a demon that had been released. The nun became unrealistic the more screen time it got. The ending was even more unrealistic, and it felt that the writers got bored halfway through and gave up.  It almost feels that the Conjuring Universe is becoming too commercialized and is reaching for “innovating” plot points.

Unsane

Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) unknowingly commits herself to a 24-hour stay at a mental institution after she makes an appointment with a counselor about fear of her stalker, David Strine (Joshua Leonard). She acts out, which extends her stay to a week. She sees her stalker impersonating an orderly, which only increases her medications and need for restraints. Shot entirely on a phone, the film has inconsistencies and portrays mental illness, once again, as something dangerous and to be feared. While individuals can voluntarily commit themselves, they can sign themselves out as long as the hospital believes they are not a danger to themselves or someone else. It also it extremely unlikely that Sawyer wouldn’t read at least the title to whatever form she was signing. Also, the police are obligated to respond to 911 calls, no matter the circumstance. A lot more movies have advocated for proper mental health education in less offensive ways.

The Strangers: Prey at Night

This movie became a sequel 10 years in the making. Mike (Martin Henderson), his wife Cindy (Christina Hendricks) and their kids, Kinsey (Bailee Madison) and Luke (Lewis Pullman) are terrorized by three masked psychopathic murderers, Dollface (Emma Bellomy), Man in the Mask (Damian Maffei) and Pin-Up Girl (Lea Enslin) while on a road trip. The sequel followed its 2008 prequel plotline, but the believability of the character arc was weak.

Insidious: The Last Key

In the franchise, this movie is second in terms of timeline. It goes 3, 4, 2, 1. The movie follows Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye) investigating a case at her childhood home in New Mexico. The scares were overdone and a letdown, mostly relying on jump scares that have no follow-through. Also, the demon with the keys for hands is not scary. Having keys for hands isn’t dangerous or lethal. The way the writers resolved the climax with the dead mother saving the day and sending the demon back to hell seemed like a way out.

The First Purge

Directed by Gerard McMurray, this one is a prequel to the whole franchise. The New Founding Fathers of America streamline the experiment to the citizens on Staten Island and offers $5,000 to the participants. The disturbing nature of the situation is the same as the other films, but this one felt political. The character development was weak, and the ending didn’t have finality. Dmitri (Y’lan Noel) is a drug dealer who is forced to participant to save his love interest, Nya (Lex Scott Davis). The drug dealer persona wasn’t necessary other to show the socioeconomic status of the population. At the end, the NFFA chief of staff says they will study the results, which the NFFA doctored to bump up the kills. The movie never actually explained how the government gave the green light for the holiday, hence why the movie was originally made. This prequel didn’t serve as an explanation, just another purge-like movie.

Truth or Dare

A group of friend take a trip to Mexico for their spring break and play a game of Truth or Dare. If the players don’t do the dare, tell the truth or stop playing, they die. And there is no way to end the game until all the players are dead. When the player refuses, an evil version appears, but the CGI is laughable and looks like a Snapchat filter. This one isn’t horror, it’s a wanna-be.

@eringardner_

eg245916@ohio.edu 

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