Welcome to a quarterly review of the year’s best horror movies of 2018 as of right this moment.
We’re officially one-quarter of the way into 2018, and while the real world remains more horrifying than anything we’ve seen onscreen there have already been more than a few stellar horror movies capable of raising our arm-hairs and chilling our blood. Our best-of lists are typically saved for the end of the year, but I’m offering up a quarterly review of sorts in the hopes of pointing your eyeballs towards some great titles that are currently playing or will be very soon.
To that end, this list encompasses 2018’s best horror films — so far — meaning it includes new movies that have been released this year in theaters (or straight to VOD/DVD) as well as titles that previously played festivals and now have an officially scheduled release date in the near future. The only other requirement? They have to be movies I’ve actually seen. (Sorry John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place.)
Alex Garland’s latest is one hell of an experience, and while it’s both a drama of the soul and a trippy science fiction film it’s also more than a little horrific. From the nightmare of grief and loss to the terror of the unknown, the film brings darkness to life with beautiful visuals and colors that feel new as they strike your eyes. There’s also a scene with a bear that brings the horrifying goods. [Currently in theaters]
We’ll probably never get a 28 Months Later, but thanks to The Cured that realization is a bit easier to swallow. This is a zombie tale taking place well after the outbreak and assault and instead focuses on recovery, and it comes with its own drama and terror. Its visual style owes itself in part to Danny Boyle’s film and helps this one deliver suspense, thrills, and intensity as it explores the high cost of kindness. [My review, currently in theaters]
It’s not uncommon for memorably acclaimed horror films to get their start at the Sundance Film Festival — Saw, The Witch, and The Blair Witch Project are just a few — and this year’s breakout looks to be Hereditary. The film focuses on a family in distress as grief and malicious forces have their way with them, and the personal terrors come in the form of some terrifically frightening sequences. The two lead performances are far stronger than the genre typically calls for, and they raise the film’s effect by association. [My review, hits theaters starting June 8th]
Gothic chillers used to be the norm with genre films, but they went out of favor decades ago. One comes along periodically, though, and this year we’ve already had two. (Another great one is right below.) This Irish tale of dark family secrets and the supernatural tells a visually inventive, creepy, and sexy tale about guilt, ghosts, and a gross brother wanting to boink his admittedly hot sister. It’s the best movie that could have also been called The Shape of Water. [Available to rent/buy now on VOD]
The writer of The Orphanage and The Impossible delivers another tale of children in danger with four siblings pretending they’re not orphans in order to avoid catching the eye of social services. It’s the least of their problems, though, as something in their house wants out. It’s a smartly told chiller with a fantastic young cast including George MacKay, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, and Mia Goth. [Hits theaters/VOD starting April 13th]
Mon Mon Mon Monsters
I’ve been singing this Taiwanese film’s praises since last year and even included it on my 2017 year-end list despite it not having a US distributor or release date, but it’s back this year as the fine folks at Shudder are bringing it stateside via their streaming service. Writer/director Giddens Ko delivers a film that not only satisfies monster-lovers and gore-hounds but that also delivers black comedy and a painfully emotional gut punch. It’s a film about how bullies don’t always look like we expect, and it’s a lesson that entertains even as it devastates. [My review, hits Shudder starting March 29th]
Adam MacDonald’s debut feature Backcountry made my Best Horror of 2015 list, and his sophomore effort seems destined to repeat that feat this year. Like that film, his follow-up focuses its terrors in the woods, but it trades our natural fear of hungry grizzly bears for supernatural horrors that are every bit as scary. MacDonald’s tale involves angry youths, devilish deals, and a demonic presence guaranteed to terrify, and it is not to be missed. [My review, available to rent now on VOD]
Les Affames (aka Ravenous)
This zombie-ish tale from Quebec finely hit the US this year (via Netflix) after impressing us in 2017 on the festival scene. It’s a smart and intimate look at a small town dealing with a viral onslaught turning people into maniacal, flesh-tearing terrors, and it manages thrills and bloodletting delivered with beautiful cinematography and emotion. The script does some interesting and fresh things with the concept too helping it stand apart from a crowded sub-genre. [Currently streaming on Netflix]
Rape/revenge movies are never all that pleasant an experience — and they shouldn’t be — but writer/director Coralie Fargeat beats down the ugliness with bright sunlight, a beautiful landscape, and a heroine who retains her sexuality even as she unleashes holy vengeance on the men responsible. It’s a bloody, violent slice of exploitation cinema from France, and fans of dirty pretty things should give it a spin. [My review, hits theaters/VOD starting May 11th]
Director David Bruckner’s solo feature debut may have premiered on the small screen (via Netflix), but it’s plenty big when it comes to the horror. It sends four friends into the woods one year after a fifth friend’s murder, but as devastating as that loss was they’re in for far, far worse. It’s a creepy tale that takes full advantage of its cold landscape, and it features possibly the best creature design of the past few years. Seriously, the beast alone is reason enough to watch. [Currently streaming on Netflix]