Despite horror’s thematic binding to the world’s most prominent fears – this a year of parental devastation and horrors inside family units – my top genre films from 2018 still revel in variety: arachnid puppets, Nazi experiments, zombie musicals alike. Such morbid creativity would stick out like a sore severed thumb any other year, but in 2018? You could drown out aforementioned absurdity with Nicolas Cage’s descent into occult revenge madness alone.
As I said, it’s been a wild year for horror – and a damn fine one at that.
My ranking comes after killing many darlings, given my final tally of 118 seen horror movies this year. Dig deeper, past these listed twenty, and you’ll still find plenty of gems. The following treasures just shine a little brighter and demand more attention. Feature debuts, streaming darlings, mainstream nightmares, they’re all here. It’s time for another end of year horror countdown, as we pay tribute to the scariest and most accomplished macabre craftsmanship 2018 has to offer.
Now that you’ve gone through picks 20-11, let’s take a dive into my top ten!
**Author’s Note: Tumbbad is now available on Amazon Prime again! GO WATCH IT!**
Due to India’s distribution issues over international waters, Tumbbad – one of my favorite 2018 festival discoveries – showed up on Amazon Prime for, like, two weeks. If that.
Technically that makes it a 2018 release, and rumor is it’ll be returning to VOD (hopefully) soon. When it does, treat yourself to an immeasurably dark fable about greed, legacy, and a banished demon punished by Mother Earth. Try finding a more exquisitely lensed horror movie this year – I dare you.
Truthfully, I’d stack Tumbbad’s cinematography against any debated Oscar contender. Rich colorization, temples of doom, a menacing creature’s womb prison, and more dark delicacies await all those who venture into Tumbbad. Hopefully, for you, it’s a trip you’ll take sooner rather than later.
9) The Witch In The Window
Andy Mitton’s lone feature debut is one of the year’s most tightly wound ghost stories. Little time is needed to define the triangular significance between a father, son, and witchy apparition inhabiting their current “fixer-upper.” Existential dread and the horrors of being a parent give way to something that reminds of Justin Benson/Aaron Moorhead brand chills, although traditional scares simultaneously thrive. Two of my favorite screams come from Mitton’s sweaty-palmed and poignant glimpse into fatherhood. It’s the total package of terror, storytelling and presence all under 90 minutes – a 2018 miracle.
8) Ghost Stories
Ghost Stories is a cinematic magic trick. Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson translate their topsy-turvy haunted theater experience into a screened thriller without losing the whimsy of stage productions. A skeptic theorist, three stories without a rational explanation, and a dive into the irrational as a means of proving afterlife existence. Sound heavy? It is! It’s also one of 2018’s most engaging and puzzling horror anthologies as early – purposeful – generics give way to quite possibly my favorite final act of the year. It’s a whirlwind of ambition, spooky short stories, and wrap-around profoundness that ensnares with the utmost impressions. Point A to Point B like you’ve rarely seen before.
7) Anna And The Apocalypse
Anna And The Apocalypse is so good I wish all zombie movies would be Irish zombie musicals from now on. My greatest genre loves all intersect in what’s undoubtedly the holiday movie event of 2018. Christmas horror, Edgar Wright inspirations, gruesome comedy, a knockout soundtrack performed by a charmingly talented cast who balance bubblegum beats with jaw-snapping undead danger – Anna And The Apocalypse is a show-stopping stunner. Try yanking “Hollywood Ending” or “Turning My Life Around” earworms from your noggin, or the image of a costumed walker snowman getting decapitated via seesaw. There’s something for every sect of horror fan!
Adam MacDonald’s Pyewacket is a far more sinister tale than its unusual title sounds. Pyewacket is the name of a demon summoned by angsty teen Leah (Nicole Muñoz), a dabbler in the dark arts who’s furious with her grief-stricken single mother (played by Laurie Holden) for moving them into the middle of nowhere.
Yarn dangles, blood dripped, incantations uttered – but Pyewacket isn’t to be trusted. Leah’s hasty decision for revenge sets in motion a trickster’s malicious attack against mother and daughter, and it’s not always as reality projects. In other words, this is a terrifying fight against demonic forces that takes a child’s weightless threats (“I wish you were dead!”) and attempts to make them come true.