I canâ€™t say I was a big fan of life in general circa 2017 but mercifully, it was a gonzo year in horror entertainment. Itâ€™s like the old saying goes, â€œWhen life hands you lemons, sell those lemons and use the cash to buy a movie ticket.â€ The list below represents my favorite horror offerings from an otherwise odious year. Whether theyâ€™re â€œgoodâ€ or â€œbadâ€™ is somebody elseâ€™s burden to decide, these babies kept my paper boat afloat either way. (In no particular orderâ€¦.)
IT. Yep, some of these picks are going to be obvious no-brainers. How could I not dig one of the most kindertrauma-iest movies ever made? I loved the characters, the town and even the clown and at least two scenes freaked me to the core. Iâ€™ll be looking forward to returning to this one again and again.
GET OUT. This flick is fascinating on too many levels to count and who would of thunk a scene involving someone simply searching for keys could be so damn suspenseful? Taking paranoid cues from ROSEMARYâ€™S BABY and THE STEPFORD WIVES, this scorching social critique is in a league of its own.
SPLIT. Donâ€™t call it a comeback, M. NIGHTâ€™s momma said knock you out. I donâ€™t see how anyone could not be thoroughly entertained by this darkly humorous, twist-infested thriller. Itâ€™s like a long lost Di PALMA film complete with a side dish of BETTY BUCKLEY. My hometown of Philadelphia has never looked better on screen and JAMES McAVOY is non-stop mesmerizing.
ANNABELLE: CREATION. Forget itâ€™s a prequel and part of a franchise; this creepy flick can stand on its own. You could replace the titular doll with any raggedy moppet and itâ€™d work just as well. The camerawork and cinematography are surprisingly exquisite and I love the time period detail and the moving way loss and loyalty are represented. This is a keeper in my book.
THE SHAPE OF WATER. 2017 was not only the year of astounding commercial success for horror films; it was host to some the genreâ€™s greatest critical glory as well. GUILLERMO DEL TOROâ€™s poetic fairy tale clarifies that there are infinite uncharted depths for monster movies to explore.
THE EVIL WITHIN. Iâ€™m not sure if this counts because it was made 15 years ago but 2017 saw its unlikely release (two years after its creatorâ€™s death) and so here we are. This movie is disturbingly bonkers but itâ€™s also a one of a kind personal vision and Iâ€™ve got to throw laurels upon it for originality alone. Batty as it may be, the bizarre effects are eye-popping and the dank, morbid dread it conjures is surprisingly potent.
TRAGEDY GIRLS. Sadly, I donâ€™t get to see more independent horror in these parts and even sadder, Iâ€™ve been burned by so many bad independent horror films that Iâ€™m not crying too many tears over that fact. Thankfully PUFF (The Philadelphia Unnamed Film Festival) knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff and I got to see this HEATHERS-esque dark teen comedy. This flick might have sunk like a stone with lesser casting but its two leads are charismatic as hell. Don’t be surprised if this one quietly becomes a cult classic.
KONG: SKULL ISLAND. Is it kosher if I add a movie simply because Iâ€™m in love with its lead? Good, because I love King Kong! Heâ€™s awesome and he really knows how to throw a helicopter and clearly has a taste for seafood grander than my own (he eats an octopus). I felt like a kid watching this movie and thatâ€™s gold.
TERRIFIER. Speaking of feeling like a kid, this movie brought me back to that unsafe space of watching sleazy VHS tapes as a teen and giddily fearing what obscenity could happen next. I canâ€™t recommend the plot too much (besides the fact that itâ€™s set on Halloween) but killer clown â€œArtâ€ genuinely had me shaking in my shoes and the almost too realistic gore scenes are horrifically impressive.
CULT OF CHUCKY. Long running horror franchises take note — a great way to revitalize a sagging storyline may be to add an interesting new character. Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™d watch any movie featuring my friend â€˜til the end Chucky but the addition of FIONA DOURIFF to the last two CHILDâ€™S PLAY installments has greatly sharpened the killer toyâ€™s blade. DON MANCINI deserves mucho credit for pushing the mayhem into less familiar zones and for keeping fans on their toes.
LOGAN. I know this isnâ€™t considered a horror movie but my library only had the B&W â€œnoirâ€ version to borrow and it ended up tasting like a late night horror classic to me. I mean, essentially, itâ€™s really about people perceived as â€œmonstersâ€ being chased cross-country by an ignorant torch-carrying mob. Furthermore itâ€™s got a killer kid in it so that even further justifies its inclusion here. In any case, I’m sticking with the B&W version and hope to never see it in color.
BETTER WATCH OUT. This movie shocked the hell out of me and I thought Iâ€™d seen everything. The premise is as hoary as the hills, involving a babysitter besieged by intruders during the holidays but before you know it, the old grey mare is flipped on its head. It also happens to feature my hero for life, CANDYMANâ€™s VIRGINIA MADSEN. Do you have a library card? If so, you can watch this FOR FREE on HOOPLA right now. If you donâ€™t have a library card, all I can do is shake my head.
SUPER DARK TIMES. Imagine A SIMPLE PLAN but instead of finding money, a trio of teens accidentally kill a (rather obnoxious) peer. What follows is a haunting nosedive into regret that crashes into true horror. Thereâ€™s something slightly heartbreaking about this movie and its exploration of the limits of social connection. Itâ€™s beautifully shot too, full of memorably moody images and the performances are so real you almost feel like an accomplice.
GERALD’S GAME and 1922. I hope itâ€™s not rude to lump these two together but theyâ€™re both NETFLIX originals based on the work of by STEPHEN KING and theyâ€™re both exceptional works of psychological horror. In fact, they are rather like flip sides of the same coin. GERALDâ€™S GAME explores the mind of an abuse survivor haunted by her past while 1922 rummages through the aftermath guilt of a man who chooses to murder his wife. I found GERALDâ€™S GAME superior in the suspense department but I ultimately preferred 1922â€™s more consistent tone. The other thing these two films have in common is that they both feature absolutely stunning performances from their leads (CARLA GUGINO and THOMAS JANE, respectfully).
ONE DISAPPOINTMENT: ALIEN: COVENANT. I appreciate this film’s visual style and overall impressive artistry but egad, Iâ€™ve never liked an ALIEN movie less. I found myself so surprised by my aversion toward it that I gave it a second viewing hoping it would gel and it only left me feeling more slighted. Maybe movies are like people and there are just some that you canâ€™t click with no matter the effort. On a bright note, it did make me reconsider 2017â€™s other Sci-Fi monster effort LIFE in a more favorable light. That movie at least closed with one truly mortifying scene that really stuck with me.
LOOKING FORWARD TO: WINCHESTER. Hey, my very own brother wrote the screenplay to this movie WINCHESTER and itâ€™s opening February 2 in the US (and March 2 in the UK). It stars HELEN MIRREN (!!!) and itâ€™s all about the fascinating Winchester house, which is said to be one of the most haunted places on Earth. You can read up on Winchester House HERE and watch the spooky, badass trailer below! Hereâ€™s to WINCHESTER starting off another epic year for the genre!
What were you favorite horror films of 2017 and which ones are you looking forward to in 2018? Leave us a comment and let us know!
Yeah, “Get Out” was the Shizzle! “IT” was better than expected. Remember the shitstorm when Pennywise’s pic was released? “Better Watch Out” had a great twist too! Anyone see, “The Love Witch”?
It’s technically a 2016 movie, but I didn’t see it until 2017. I thought it was great!
King Kong san-nakji !!
Terrifier! I am terrified! I guess it has a release date in March? I hadn’t heard good things about All Hallows Eve and I should have known better than to listen to that trashtalk 🙂
I had no intention of watching the Annabelle movie either so thanks for the recommendations
Tomb! I’ve heard a lot of great things about THE LOVE WITCH. Strangely after reading your comment I went to the library and LOVE WITCH was on the shelf staring right back at me. I can’t wait to watch it soon.
I wanted to add THE VOID to this list but I saw it was 2016 also. I’m just going to add it here now: THE VOID (whatever year it is). Actually SPLIT is listed as 2016 too but it was released on Jan 20 2017.
Bloodymary, Yes! ANNABELLE CREATION looks like filler but it’s actually a pretty great movie. It reminded me of THE WALTONS episode when Elizabeth got possessed so that helped too. It’s way better than it looks imo and it’s the only non-used DVD I bought myself for Christmas so that’s gotta tell ya something.
TERRIFIER is probably not for everyone but I loved being in the zone of feeling not quite safe with a slasher again. I still have to see ALL HALLOWS EVE. But like ANNABELLE, TERRIFIER does an excellent job of standing on its own.
Great wrap up, Unk! I’ve seen “Shape of Water” twice now, and can not get it out of my head. Del Toro’s masterpiece, for certain. “It” captured kids with the same magic that King does in his writing. I had not seen a movie that did that with his work so well since “Stand by Me.” The scene with them all swimming in the quarry was easily my favorite part of the movie.
I had not heard of “Super Dark Times,” but I can’t wait to see it now. Thanks for the heads up on that one!
For 2018, I am really looking forward to “Mom and Dad,” but, if I am being completely honest, it’s because watching Nicholas Cage go full Nicholas Cage is always a treat!
Happy 2018, Kindertraumites!
I just heard of MOM AND DAD for the first time yesterday. It’s going to be playing at the South street Cinema in a month! I have to remember to check it out. Btw- You can currently find “Super Dark Times” on Netflix.
Also, sorry if anyone is here looking for the Friday Funhouse puzzle- I didn’t finish one in time today. This Friday really jumped up on me. We’ll have another one soon though! Hope everyone has a great weekend.
Wow! Thanks for the recommendation for THE EVIL WITHIN. What a breath of fresh air. It’s been awhile since I watched something so original (visually) that was still entertaining. It makes you wonder what genius future films we lost when Getty died.
Dr Nick! I’m so glad you saw THE EVIL WITHIN! That at least proves I didn’t hallucinate the whole thing. It’s such a singularly strange and surreal movie! Getty certainly captured something unique. There’s something that feels like true madness in that movie. I agree- I’m so grateful to whoever made sure this one made it to the screen and I agree- I wish he could have made more movies!!
Great post, Unkle L! It is the only one I have seen on the list, and I loved it. Like DDD said, it truly captured the kids.
I want to see The Shape of Water very much, but it takes forever for good movies like this to play down here.
How cool about your brother! I have always been fascinated with the Winchester Mystery House.
Great wrap-up, Uncle Lancifer! I agree with your choices (of the ones I’ve seen) and thanks for pointing me to several titles I hadn’t heard of. Very cool about your brother’s movie. I took the Winchester house tour when I was a kid on vacation with my family. We still make fun of our tour guide who rushed through her memorized lines in a bored monotone.
Excellent list Unk! I was on the fence about seeing “Super Dark Times” but I’m sold.
Speaking of “Dark”, have you checked out the German Netflix series by the same name? Good stuff. However, you know that tv/film trope where some obsessed person has a wall covered in photos, notes and drawings all connected by strings? You basically need to make one of those yourself to follow the plot in Dark.
Also, are you gonna be able to pull some strings and maybe get to meet Helen Mirren? You’re connected now Unk! Exploit it!
Great list! I have to throw some love out there to HAPPY DEATH DAY and THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER, both of which were roaring good horror films that deserve to be future cult classics. (And BLACKCOAT is about as Kindertrauma as they come!)
Mickster, You’re going to love SHAPE OF WATER. I can’t wait to see it again. I wish I could go see WINCHESTER with you.
Geoff, Oh man, I would love to take that tour! And I’d hope to get that same tour guide!
chuckles72, a friend has been recommending DARK to me also! I’ll have to check it out. I’m trapped in another binge right now. I wish I could tell you i was currently binging with Helen Mirren but that’s not the case (yet).
Which reminds me, has anyone watched THE END OF THE F**ING WORLD on Netflix? I really enjoyed it (except for one scene with a dog).
MONDO DIGITAL-Oh no, I should have put BLACKOUT”S DAUGHTER on the list! I remember thinking I was going to include it with PERSONAL SHOPPER and then when I found out that one was from 2016 I think I dropped them both. Thanks for bringing it up! I recommend it too and it should be on here.
Sadly, I have not seen HAPPY DEATH DAY yet. I was really looking forward to it so I don’t know what happened. Maybe I’ll add it after I see it. Thanks for the reminder.