The fantastic in general and the horror films in particular has been living a few years of creativity and commercial acceptance that would have been absolutely unthinkable a decade ago and that, at least in terms of box office, takes us back to the glorious eighties and its iconic franchises taking billboards and charts. If these times are comparable with those, it may be the reason for another article, because what today touches is to focus on the present.
We have selected 12 films that seem to us the best or most remarkable of the genre in 2018. From more or less pure horror films to mixtures with other genres where fear is just one more ingredient of Macedonian. As always keep in mind that this is a selection that obeys a personal criterion and that not only you can, but you must point out my possible forgetfulness in the comments. These have been the great panics (in the cinema) of 2018.
‘A Quiet Place’
Direction: John Krasinksi
Cast: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward, Leon Russom, Doris McCarthy
The monster movie of the year is undoubtedly this film that takes a step beyond the horror films with sensory deprivation that in recent times so fashionable have put hits such as ‘Hush’ or ‘Do not breathe’. Although in those cases the results were superior due to their modesty and conciseness of characters and scenarios, intensifying the claustrophobic component that is sought with the elimination of a sense, to ‘A quiet place’ you have to applaud your incursion, from there, in the cinema of post-apocalyptic monsters.
Krasinski manages to make his film go from an intelligent combination of common places to a memorable horror movie thanks to the wonderful work of the actors, who make up a family that has to continuously dodge fierce monsters hypersensitive to sound. Their exciting relationship and the fragility they demonstrate are combined with intelligence with a multitude of day-to-day details (they replace tableware with leaves, make table games with soft materials), which gives the adventure a human and close tone. Pity about some script decisions in his last third that disrupt the credibility he has so carefully constructed.
Direction: Ari Aster
Cast: Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd
The movie of the year, regardless of genre, is this little marvel, risky and willing to make few concessions, whose only problem, perhaps, is that it shows Ari Aster desperate to demonstrate -by active and by passive- that his is more than a horror movie. Complexes apart and despite whoever is, ‘Hereditary’ is also an extraordinary genre film, one that knows how to drink the best and most disturbing of the dark demonic cinema of the seventies, from ‘The seed of the devil’ to ‘Repulsion’, passing for ‘The sentinel’.
Overflowing with unhealthy details, and owner of the drier and more disturbing violence scene of 2018, whether Aster sees himself or not classified as a master of fear, the truth is that he knows how to play the keys with delicacy and intelligence to maximize delirium and paroxysm. The story of a family marked by tragedy, but also by a dark and threatening past that hovers over its decisions. Incredible interpretations of the entire cast, but especially of an overwhelming Toni Collette, and a final trail of which either irretrievably distance the viewer, or make him fall at the foot of the proposal.
Direction: Alex Garland
Cast: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Sonoya Mizuno
Indisputably failed but also admirable and fascinating, ‘Aniquilación’ is a proposal by Alex Garland premiered exclusively by Netflix after a long and painful production process, and whose result is disconcerting and captivating. With a schematic argument, almost bordering on abstraction, tells how a group of women scientists go into a kind of alien world whose visualization and creatures already compensates for the countless concessions that must be granted to the adventure.
With some of the best and most unexplained monsters of the year, continually challenging the viewer (that ending with contemporary dance included!), just for its aesthetic and visual daring would deserve a place on this list. But also, proposes a reflection on depression and the damage we do to ourselves in times of crisis that make it one of the few metaphors of the year that do not have an annoying book of instructions. Despite its undeniable problems of tone, rhythm and coherence, a major highlight of 2018.
Direction: Shane Black
Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Trevante Rhodes, Sterling K. Brown, Jacob Tremblay, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key
Another production undeniably irregular due to conditions derived from what is guessed as a very problematic shoot, marked by constant reshoots and cuts in the assembly room that reduced his first cut from more than two hours to about one hundred minutes. The result is a hurried and insufficient footage to develop a script full of surprises and human characters that establish a chemistry between them in the style of previous Shane Black films. One wonders exactly what Fox would want when hiring Black as co-scriptwriter and director, but the truth is that the film is, if not the most rounded, the most personal and peculiar of the franchise.
To the point that the monster is the least of a film that is proposed more as a comic rethinking of ‘Twelve of the scaffold’, and that has in its eccentric soles with post-traumatic stress its best asset. Well truffle with gore and with an interesting design of the predators, with some of the best action sequences from the first delivery, ‘Predator’ is far from perfect, but it is a stimulating sample of what could happen if, for once, the great franchises of the fantastic will be awarded to those creators who understand them. Now it only remains to let them do their job.
Direction: Panos Cosmatos
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Bill Duke, Richard Brake, Hayley Saywell
The most insane film of the last twelve months is far more sophisticated than it seems at a superficial glance. It is not only (although also, and in that sense fulfills its function) a steamroller mega-acting denortado by Nicolas Cage, with a rested first half and a devastating second, suppurating death metal disc aesthetics of the eighties and charged with disturbing and excessive ultraviolence. In addition, it is a curious reflection on loneliness and the outsiders who suffer it, with a history of emotional love and very unique that is what marks that wonderful first half that has been so unfairly criticized.
Understood in its entirety or not, the truth is that Mandy works perfectly as a kind of ‘Hellraiser’ in which hell opens, instead of a Rubik’s cube, with a collection of Manowar covers. All this sifted by a few reflections on the rotten America and the limit that symbolize the Mansonian cults that ended the Summer of Love, and that connects in a disturbing but farsighted way with the previous film by Panos Cosmatos, the also unclassifiable ‘Beyond the Black Rainbow’.
Direction: Daniel Goldhaber
Cast: Madeline Brewer, Samantha Robinson, Patch Darragh, Melora Walters, Devin Druid, Imani Hakim, Michael Dempsey, Flora Diaz
The best film of the Blumhouse specialists of the year is neither the very poor ‘Truth or challenge’, nor the sequels of the somewhat sold-out sagas ‘The Purge’ or ‘Eliminated’, nor of course the horrible new delivery of ‘Halloween’ , but this tiny production that supposes its first exclusivity with Netflix. Screenwriter Isa Mazzei knows what she’s talking about first-hand, and sets a horror story of classical borders (unfolded personalities, mysterious environments, and people with secrets) in a much more threatening environment than a ruined house or a forest at midnight: the erotic chats on the Internet.
Without cutting into the sharp portrait of its fauna, but without the need for sermons or condescension, ‘Cam’ tells how a popular camgirl discovers that someone is plagiarizing her in a wild search for fame at any price. Thanks to a great Madeline Brewer (‘The Handmaid’s Tale’), the cold plot feels eerily close, and the film does not underestimate the viewer when it comes to setting a world with its own rules and regulations . Frantic but not run over, the most interesting of ‘Cam’ is undoubtedly how it develops in a natural way and without artifices the complex and not always aesthetic language of the multiple simultaneous screens.
Direction: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Cast: Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Martin Freeman, Jill Halfpenny, Nicholas Burns, Daniel Hill, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
The old narrative resource of the episode films that gave us so many joys in the seventies and eighties acquires renewed strength with ‘Tales of ghosts’, which allows to reformulate the scheme with the guiding thread of an unmasking of false paranormal phenomena that faces a handful of unsolved cases. Of course, not everything is what it seems and finally the story that acquires more importance is the central, starring the co-director Andy Nyman.
The film finds its identity in its extreme simplicity, inherited from the episode films of Amicus and Tygon, times that are also reflected in its spectacular alternative posters. The overwhelming ease with which his three stories are reduced to almost notes of ghost stories plays in their favor, reinforcing the central and highlighting the interpretations, some spectacular, of people like Alex Lawther or Martin Freeman.
‘Mom and Dad’
Direction: Brian Taylor
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Joseph D. Reitman, Olivia Crocicchia, Lance Henriksen, Brionne Davis
Not exactly a horror movie, but one that uses a series of topics and narrative resources of genre film to build a satirical discourse, with feverish rhythm and few prejudices, and which finds a voice of its own thanks to the insane interpretations of Nicolas Cage, Lance Henriksen and Selma Blair . But also thanks to its intelligent recycling of tropes such as the invasion of the ultrabodies or domestic invasions.
With a brisk direction from Brian Taylor that recovers the energy that we gave for lost since ‘Crank’, ‘Mom and Dad’ becomes one of the strangest comedies of the year, one that puts in solfa concepts so beloved by the genre as the underlying darkness within the family nucleus, or the ease with which the social order crumbles behind which we believe we are safe and secure. Despite its craziness, its gore and its rhythm of cartoon, this is an ultraviolence epic much sourer than it seems and a must for fans of horror movies with a sense of humor.
Direction: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Cast: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Tate Ellington, Callie Hernandez, James Jordan, Lew Temple
The duo formed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead is one of the best kept secrets of the genre: their perception of horror movies, between lyric, and enigmatic, but very aware of the conventions and springs that make it work, gives them a unique voice and personal. It already happened with his debut, the absorbing ‘Resolution’, and continued in that vein with the even more poetic (and discussed, but ultimately fascinating ‘Spring’). But ‘The infinite’ is not only the first one that has obtained some regularized distribution, but it is the most rounded of all.
Both are also the protagonists of an immersion in the guts of a cult that does not know very well if it is destructive or just eccentric: a couple of brothers who escaped from him years ago, and who feel the need to return. Once there, it seems clear that the cult is not as dangerous as they believe at the same time it seems obvious that there is something strange about the environment. The second half of the film is a master lesson of narrative paranoia and, at the same time, how to innovate in the genre with very limited resources and borrowed ideas from the most insane materialistic science fiction.
Direction: David Bruckner
Cast: Rafe Spall, Rob James-Collier, Sam Troughton, Arsher Ali, Jacob James Beswick, Paul Reid, Kerri McLean
‘The ritual’ does not invent anything. In fact, beyond some powerful idea to visualize flashbacks and threatening, ominous and beautiful images of the mountains where a group of four colleagues is lost to pay homage to a deceased friend, there is nothing of remarkable originality in this film. But David Bruckner rolls everything with such conviction and aplomb that it seems that this is the first time that the worn-out topic of the clash between civilization and wild nature has been thrown in our faces.
Choosing very specific elements of ‘Infernal possession’, ‘The project of the witch of Blair’ and ‘The man of wicker’, ‘The ritual’ finds a personal voice in his serious tone and without easy scares. A reflection on the concept of guilt and its devastating scope that manages to pose an oppressive, elegant and memorable atmosphere from its first minute and that, as a tip, has one of the most original monsters of the year. Not bad for a film infinitely less ambitious than other genre samples of the year.
Direction: Coralie Fargeat
Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchède
Little or nothing recommended for friends of the plot verisimilitude, this reformulation in key of jocular feminimsm (if it was not already out of the cinema of rapes and revenges of all the life) is almost an aesthetic hyperbole of the expositions of films like ‘The day of the woman’, ‘Thriller’ or ‘The last house on the left’ . Fargeat reduces to the minimum essence the biographies, the scenario (a house in the middle of a desert) and the characters (three aggressors and one victim) and with it composes a carefree disintegration of the genre.
Thanks to a demolishing commitment to the sensory (Robrecht Heyvaert’s photography is a marvel, as are its vibrant montage and its original treatment of sound), ‘Revenge’ does not take itself or its characters too seriously. But he manages to make his impossible plot drink supernatural and recent variants of the genre, such as ‘Savaged’, to become more a story of ghoulish ghosts than a thriller with vengeance to use. In any case, one of the most frenetic and fun B series of the year.
Direction: Luca Guadagnino
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloë Grace Moretz, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Sylvie Testud, Angela Winkler, Malgorzata Bela
The remake of Dario Argento’s classic is not exactly one of the best horror films of the year, but the undeniable power of his images, his reference to an indisputable milestone of the genre and everything that has been said and written about it (and what that we have) well it deserves a mention. Possibly Guadagnino would be shocked with the condescension with which we treat him, but anyway: the same condescension with which he looks at Argento.
We must recognize, in any case, his audacity to renounce the option that would have been easier and more derivative: the reformulation of a masterpiece of argumentative abstraction and sensory overload to a contemporary aesthetic. Instead, he goes to the Berlin of the seventies, steps on the accelerator in terms of historicist readings and takes advantage of the possibilities of dance as female sorcery. The crimes range from the most memorable to the most ridiculously grotesque we have seen in 2018, and that value must also be recognized.
These are my 12 selected among all the horror movies that has been released in 2018. Of course, you will have your contributions and you will want to point out our forgetfulness. You can do it in the comments, and remember at all times that this selection is completely subjective and personal.