2018 is nine months deep now and new horror movies just keep coming! We’ve already seen zombies, ghosts, cults, bears, and Bigfoot, but the one constant is a steady stream of scares, terror, and unease. Newcomers in the past three months include a few festival titles, and while two of them are due in theaters shortly the others are as yet unreleased in North America. They all count towards a great year in horror though!
Quick note: Three of this year’s best releases — Mon Mon Mon Monsters, Ravenous (aka Les Affames), and Revenge — all made my Best Horror of 2017 list based on their festival runs, so I’m not including them this year too despite it being their “official” release year.
Keep reading for a look at the ten best horror movies of 2018, so far, in alphabetical order.
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 depression 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, but while the visceral beats land hard it’s the film’s emotionally haunting observations that will stay with you after the credits roll. [Available on Blu-ray/DVD]
Survival tales are their own kind of horror stories, but this gem blends one man’s fight to stay alive in nature with the pesky interference of something wholly unnatural. It’s like a horror-tinged take on Robert Redford’s All Is Lost or a feature-length version of that bit in Dead Calm where Sam Neill is stuck on the sinking ship — but it’s also its own terrifically tense, suspenseful, and thrilling film. [My review, currently unavailable]
This horror anthology started life as a stage play but finds new life on the screen for a wider audience. A skeptic investigators three stories of the supernatural, and while they offer a variety of thrills the film’s at its most memorable with a framing device which builds into something truly special. Humor plays a big role too, although it’s the unsettling weight of the past that sits at the film’s forefront. [My review, available on Blu-ray/DVD]
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 is 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 as characters we’ve come to care about descend into a truly horrifying reality. [My review, available on Blu-ray/DVD]
One Cut of the Dead
Of the roughly 73 zombie movies released (mostly straight to DVD) each month 72 of them are immediately forgettable. They’re a horde of sameness, but this Japanese feature jumps out as a fresh take on the rotting flesh of zombie cinema. Of course, it starts like something far more familiar, but if you stick with its intentional setup you’ll be rewarded with something truly special. [My review, currently unavailable]
A squad of American GIs go behind enemy lines to facilitate the impending D-Day invasion, but while Nazis remain their most relevant threat there’s also a more imminent one — zombified people with super strength and a hunger for carnage. This is a glorious B-movie on a budget that opens strong with an intense Saving Private Ryan-like assault before shifting gears into a suicide mission with characters we actually care about, fun action beats, and bloody demises. See it! [Opens in theaters on November 9th]
Primal Rage: The Legend of Oh-Mah
Bigfoot movies are my jam — seriously, I ranked 47 of them last year — and I’ll always watch new ones despite the sad truth that most are unmemorable. This year has already seen a few, and this is both the best of the bunch and a terrifically fun horror movie period. It’s a crass creature feature in some ways and stands apart from the rest of the list, but it’s great fun. What starts as a familiar horror trope involving a bickering couple shifts gears with threats from nature, armed humans, and Bigfoot creatures who’ve evolved beyond mere growls and arm-swinging. Script creativity, solid practical effects, and a unique creature design make for a fun time with Sasquatch. [Available on DVD]
Adam MacDonald’s debut feature Backcountry made my Best Horror of 2015 list, and his sophomore effort seems destined to repeat a similar 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 on Blu-ray/DVD]
If you’re going to remake a film like Dario Argento’s Suspiria you really better come with your A-game. Luckily, director Luca Guadagnino only knows how to play A-games, and he delivers a film that honors the original while striking out in bold, dangerous, and striking new directions. This is a beautiful movie in its imagery, sounds, and themes, and it’s a nightmare for all those same reasons. A good nightmare, a great one even, that you’ll want to see on the biggest screen possible. [My review, opens in theaters on November 2nd]
Greed is no stranger when it comes to motivations for evil in horror films, but few use it so beautifully and intensely as this Indian feature. The cycle of greed and desire passes from one generation to the next, and it’s set against the backdrop of English colonization for added dramatic effect. That’s more than enough for a dark tale, but we also get demonic creatures, a hellish pit, gorgeous cinematography, and more. [Currently unavailable]
Honorable mentions: The Cured, Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, Halloween, The Lodgers, Marrowbone, The Ritual, The Strangers: Prey at Night