I watched a lot of horror movies this year — around 34 or so — and though I’ll be posting my favorite movies in general for the year later on, I decided to give horror movies their own list. So, here are the top ten horror movies that I watched for the first time in 2017.
Get Out (2017)
Chris, a young black man, goes on a weekend trip with his white girlfriend to meet her parents at their secluded estate in the woods. The weekend starts off awkward and grows increasingly unsettling as it builds into a nightmare. Brilliantly executed by writer and director Jordan Peele, Get Out is a smart, frightening, and sometimes humorous satirical thriller that unveils the nature of racism as microaggressions give way to violence.
Under the Shadow (2016)
A woman and her child, alone in their apartment in Tehran while the city is being bombed, begin to believe they are haunted by some darker threat within their home. Under the Shadow holds a tight tension from the constant stress and fear of their home being struck by a missile, which is amped up further by the possibility of a supernatural threat.
A young woman who has been a vegetarian her whole life is forced to eat raw meat during a hazing ritual at veterinary school, an act that awakens cannibalistic cravings. Raw is a brutal and visceral coming-of-age story. It almost wouldn’t be horror, except for the stomach churning moments of gore and body horror.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016)
The stories of two women’s lives are layered over each other in a film that is as much visual poetry as it is a narrative story. The beautiful cinematography reveals a house full of corners and angles and doorways that open like mouths, square black pits containing shadows of ghosts and whispers. The quiet spaces of this film were sometimes the ones that most chilled me, prickling the hairs on the back of my neck.
Gerald’s Game (2017)
At a remote lake house, a married couple’s attempt to spice up their marriage goes wrong in all the worst ways. Jessie (brilliantly played by Carla Gugino) falls into a psychological nightmare and fight for survival when she is left stuck, chained to a bed after her husband’s heart attack. No other movie on this list made me squirm as much as this one, which left me with an ongoing feeling of anxiety when it ended. It’s among the better Stephen King adaptations out there, although the ending drags out longer than it necessary.
Don’t Breathe (2016)
Three friends decide to break into a house owned by a blind man, believing it will be an easy grab for cash — only to have things turn deadly when the man catches them in the act. No one comes off looking good in this, as pretty much everyone is terrible in some way. Regardless, the claustrophobic intensity of the filmmaking kept me on edge throughout the movie.
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
In this classic werewolf story, two friends traveling in the England countryside are attacked by a vicious creature on the moors. Although David survives, he begins to be haunted by terrifying visions, including the appearance of his dead friend warning him of the monster he will become. An American Werewolf in London mixes classic tropes from folklore with a modern setting, clever storytelling and humor, and effects that hold up fairly well.
The Beyond (1981)
A girl inherits an old decrepit hotel which turns out to have deadly secrets — a fairly common trope for horror movie, but this movie from italian director Lucio Fulci is not at all straightforward. This one wins for its wacky progression of events, it eye popping and face melting effects, and its strange, twisty, ending, and surreal ending.
The Void (2016)
A bizarre cult traps a group of people find them trapped in a hospital that’s in the process of closing down. Although I didn’t have much interest in the characters themselves, I was delighted by the ‘80s style practical effects in all their dripping oozing glory along with the theme of Lovecraftian, celestial horror. This movie goes from zero to WTF at a rapid pace and only got weirder from there.
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
A young girl, who is a part of a test group of infected children, travels with a group of survivors when the army based falls to the hordes of cannibalistic infected populace outside the fences, The Girl with All the Gifts is a somewhat straightforward rendition of a big-budget zombie action movie from there — but the ending surprised and rocked me in the best of ways.
Honorable Mentions: XX (2017), Rabid (1977) and The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears (2013).
What were your favorite horror movies from this year?