The Best Horror Movies of 2019

Ghost stories, creature features, psychopaths, and more make up the best horror movies of 2019.

Rewind Horror

10. Belzebuth (Mexico)

Belzebuth

If you’re like me, well first off congratulations, but second off, you’re probably also bored and let down by horror movies featuring possessions and the devil as its main threat. What I’m saying is, no, I don’t love The Exorcist (1973). Possession films are too often dull in their approach and execution of good versus evil tales, but sometimes a movie comes along that succeeds anyway through original story elements, interesting characters, and atypical plot turns. (So yeah, I do love 1990’s The Exorcist III.) To that end, I also love this Mexican chiller pitting a big gruff cop and a thrown together team of paranormal investigators against a demon with a voraciously bloody appetite for dead kids. From its opening set-piece in a hospital’s newborn wing to a dark journey underground and into the blackest of hearts, Belzebuth is an unnerving, harrowing, and suspenseful watch.

Available to stream on Shudder.


9. We Summon the Darkness

We Summon The Darkness

Ah the 80s. A time for unruly youths dressed in denim, leather, and attitude to congregate with other like-minded folks for big hair and heavy metal. Three young women head out for some fun, but when they go home with a van full of boys afterward the night goes from good times to bloody times. Ignore that other movie with the more direct title as this is the “satanic panic” movie we deserve. It’s a smart, funny, surprising, bloody great time, and while the whole cast is terrific both Alexandra Daddario and Maddie Hasson are the entertainingly kick-ass MVPs. The film has fun riffing on America’s fearful obsession with cults and devil worshipers and delivers laughs, thrills, and bloody demises along the way.

Currently on the festival circuit.


8. It Comes (Japan)

It Comes

Thank jeebus for Japan as the country’s brilliant filmmakers continue to deliver films that delight and demolish expectations with equal measure. At its core this is an exorcism tale, but toss those bland, preconceived notions out the window as Tetsuya Nakashima has no time for traditional antics when there’s a wholly bonkers world just waiting to fill the screen. This is an amazingly ridiculous tale about a family targeted for evil and the fight they and others put up to stop it, and while it’s serious at times it’s a wild blend of horror, comedy, and human commentary. The film constantly subverts expectations as it delivers spectacle, surprising turns, and ridiculous fun that shifts from intimate terrors to more large scale set-pieces. It’s unreal, and it is something special.

Currently on the festival circuit.


7. Extra Ordinary (UK)

Extra Ordinary

More than a few horror/comedies made the cut this year, and that’s both a good sign and highly unusual. It’s a tough combination to pull off, but like the others on this list Extra Ordinary delivers big laughs in a dark and bloody setting. Here a psychic with low self-esteem takes one more stab at using her abilities for good when a local girl falls prey to a devilish American intent on sacrificing her to Satan. Will Forte plays the villain, hilariously, but the rest of the cast is equally as brilliant with very funny turns from Maeve Higgins, Claudia O’Doherty, and Barry Ward. Seek this one out, sit back, and enjoy the hell out of it.

Currently on the festival circuit.

6. Crawl

Crawl

Animal attack movies were at their peak in the 70s with stone-cold classics like Grizzly (1976), Day of the Animals (1977), and Piranha (1978), but the advent of animal rights advocates (a good thing) and excessive CG (a mixed thing) has made worthwhile ones hard to find these days. Turns out even CG critters can be made entertaining with the right filmmaker — think Jaume Collet-Serra and The Shallows in 2016 — and this year that combination is Alexandre Aja and Crawl. His energetic and playful direction combined with solid CG and a strong lead performance by Kaya Scodelario help turn an alligators on the loose tale into a wildly entertaining story of survival against bad weather, worse luck, and some very hungry gators.

Available on disc and digital via Amazon.


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