2018 was a fine year for horror. You want variety? We had ghosts, clowns, cults, monsters, demons, slashers, psychos, zombies and super soldiers, just to name a few. It was a bit difficult to decide on more than three or four films that really stood out above the crowd. There was a lot to like. It’s a nice problem to have.
That said, here are my top thirteen horror movies of 2018. These were impactful, fun and often creepy as hell. That seems like pretty good criteria to me.
A teenage boy is horrified as he begins to suspect his straight and narrow father may be the Clovehitch Killer, a murderer who had terrorized their town ten years ago. Dylan McDermott stars as the father, and his unsettling performance elevates this movie. He’s quirky and quite disturbing. You don’t want to miss it. The Clovehitch Killer is a patient film. It takes its time getting to know the characters and building a sense of dread, but once McDermott really lets loose, this movie kicks into high gear.
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If I told you there was an, insane Nicholas Cage horror movie that you had to see to see, you might think I was talking about Mandy, the acid trip from hell movie featuring a chainsaw fight and Nic Cage forging a battle ax. Sure, you have see Mandy to believe it, but I’m here to tell you that Mom and Dad is actually the film to watch first. It is a horror/comedy about a kind of mass hysteria that breaks out, causing parents to turn violently on their own children. The premise is clever and well executed. The mom and dad are played by Selma Blair and Nicolas Cage, and they both knock it out of the park. The frenetic pace, coupled with the sheer terror of your own parents trying to kill you, makes for one hell of a ride. And if you want gonzo, over the top Nic Cage, just wait for the pool table scene. It’s a classic. Yes, Mandy is bananas, but it’s also long, a bit slow and kind of trippy. Mom and Dad never drags and always keeps you on the edge of your seat, with a big smile on your face.
You Might Also Like: Mandy
I love Halloween. The first one. It’s one of the all-time greats. I was so happy when I heard of that they were doing a soft reboot of the Halloween franchise. To be honest, I haven’t really cared about a Halloween movie much since Halloween II, way back in the day. While this new Halloween was not quite the homerun I was hoping for, it is still my second favorite movie in the series, and that’s quite an accomplishment. Jamie Lee Curtis is back as an older, tougher and damaged Laurie Strode, who has gone into full Sarah Conner mode, much to the chagrin of her estranged daughter and granddaughter. When Michael Meyers escapes after 40 years, three generations of Strode women must take on The Shape. While it’s a bit uneven, there are some really great scenes in this new Halloween, as Michael Myers makes up for lost time. The third act is a total blast. And one last thought… Judy Greer is delightful.
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A group of friends are out in the wilderness to pay tribute to their recently deceased buddy. Soon they are stalked by something mysterious and terrifying in the woods. The Ritual caused a buzz early in the year and it earned a place on my list for its staying power. The ending of this movie has divided audiences, but regardless of that, what happens to these guys along the way makes it worth watching. It also pulls off some flashback scenes with a unique style and skill that could have ruined this movie in lesser hands. As for that controversial ending, and the monster, it all worked for me.
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Upgrade is a very cool, action packed, sci-fi/horror flick. In the near-future, a man, Grey, and his wife are mugged. She is killed and he is paralyzed. However, with the help of Stem, an experimental computer chip implant, not only can he walk, but he can fight with super human abilities. What follows is fast-paced thrill ride as Grey delves into the mystery surrounding his wife’s murder and takes revenge. I really enjoyed this whole movie, but it made my list mostly because it had a great ending. So many movies like this tend to run out of gas. While this is really more of a sci-fi movie with elements horror, it is a film I am constantly recommending to people, including you.
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- Anna and the Apocalypse
Anna and the Apocalypse sung, danced and hacked its way onto this list, powered a stellar cast, a killer soundtrack and some sharp writing. When you can pull off a movie that’s a musical, Christmas, zombie, horror/comedy, which legions of people have come to adore, you are doing something right. Anna and the Apocalypse is bound to become a holiday horror staple. Make no mistake about it, people who are not particularly partial to musicals, like me, are enjoying this film. It will fit nicely on a Blu-ray shelf next to horror/comedies like to Shawn of the Dead and What We Do in The Shadows.
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This one came in just under the wire and ended up making the list. Hold the Dark is a Netflix Original starring Jeffery Wright and Alexander Skarsgård and Riley Keough. A wolf expert (Wright) is brought to Alaska to search for the wolves that may have killed several children in a remote village, including the six-year-old son of Keough and her husband, Skarsgård, a soldier in the Middle East. As the mystery unravels, so does Skarsgård, who goes on a brutal, revenge-fueled rampage. Hold the Dark is a shadowy companion to Wind River, with more violence, weirdness and occult overtones reminiscent of True Detective: Season One. It also had one of the most intense shoot-outs ever. It’s a strange and grim movie that sticks with you long after it’s over.
Terrifier, the killer clown movie, is grimy, bloody, and ruthless. Art the Clown makes the new Pennywise look like the Avon Lady. This is a gory and unapologetic throwback to 80’s slasher flicks. It has perhaps the most memorable kill of any horror movie in 2018. You’ll know it when you see it. It’s also not afraid to go where other slasher movies fear to tread. Terrifier is not for the feint hearted, but it’s definitely one for the serious horror fan.
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It was a good year for ghosts. Terrified, along with The Haunting of Hill House, Ghost Stories and Satan’s Slaves, all delivered genuinely scary hauntings with characters we actually cared about. Terrified is a film about not just a haunted house, but a haunted block. It’s another movie that came out of nowhere and ended up as one of my favorites. There are so many unsettling things to see, including a scene at a kitchen table that will give you nightmares. Think of Terrified kind of like Event Horizon, but in a neighborhood instead of space.
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Revenge is a big, colorful, blood-soaked movie that’s over the top and super entertaining. It’s a rape-revenge flick that is fueled by an outstanding performance by Matilda Lutz, who starts off as a victim and morphs into a bad-ass. The men she is terrorized by are sleazy and dangerous, and boy, do you want to see them get what’s coming to them. This movie is unforgettable. Revenge was never sweeter.
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This had to be the biggest surprise of 2018. This “Nazi/Zombie” flick seemed like a run of the mill, video game come-to-life kind of movie. Boy am I glad I gave it a chance, because it’s so much more. It starts off as a riveting World War II movie, then all hell breaks loose as it takes a turn to into an action/horror battle royal. Exciting and gory, Overlord features some of the most intense visuals of the year. You gotta see this one.
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Don’t make a sound or you’re dead. A Quiet Place was the crowd-pleasing creature feature that appealed to both horror fans and mainstream audiences. Having Emily Blunt and John Krasinski certainly helps, as well as the kids in this film, who quickly endear themselves to you. Sure, there are a few places you can poke holes in this story, but if you just sit back and enjoy, there are few films that are as fun as this one. This was the best movie to see in a crowded theater. It was so silent and tense, except for me and my bag of crunchy popcorn. Sorry about that, people in my theater.
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- 1. Hereditary
I saw Hereditary in the theater and was blown away. It had three or four of the most unforgettable and unnerving scenes of any horror film in years. I knew it would be in contention for my favorite horror movie of the year and so I re-watched it recently to be sure. Not only did it hold up, but a second viewing actually strengthened my opinion of it. What amazing performances by the cast, especially Toni Collette, who should be in the conversation for an Oscar. There are so many chilling moments along the way, and then it ends with an insane and polarizing climax that I loved. This is a damn good movie.
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Notes:, The Haunting of Hill House, while not a movie, was one of the best things I watched all year. Don’t miss it.
Jack Campisi is one of the guys on Final Guys podcast and the co-host of the Monster Men show. Sometimes he writes too. Horror stuff, pop culture, movies, TV and anything else that pops into his head. He believes laughter is the best medicine… besides BBQ.