Another year of horror films have come and gone. As we bid adieu to 2018, we look back on all the terrors and frights that graced our cinema screens and streaming platforms. 2018 was a big year for horror, delivering indie stunners like Revenge and Mandy, the revival of the quintessential slasher 40-years later in David Gordon Green’s Halloween, as well as some festival standouts and flicks that exploded into theatres through word-of-mouth, like Ari Aster’s Hereditary, and John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place.
In 2018, I viewed over 100 NEW horror and genre films. Some of them were in cinemas with eager horror audiences, others at film festivals, or cowering over my laptop in a press room while media interviewed talent and napped around me. Films from tiny budgets of only a few thousand dollars and a group of filmmakers with a dream, to big studio endeavors with explosions, flamethrowers, and nazi zombies (yes, I’m talking about Overlord).
Before I begin counting down my top 10 horror films of 2018, here’s a quick rundown on how my list will differ from the others popping up all over the horrorverse. Firstly, I use ‘horror’ loosely. I don’t want any @’s saying “These aren’t horror!” All of the films on my list veer into the genre film spectrum in some way, and I’ve deemed them all fair game. Second, some of these film’s aren’t out yet. This list contains films that premiered at festivals in 2018 and saw wide release – whether to cinema screens, VOD, or straight to DVD. This may seem like an annoying decision at first, but think of it as the list that keeps on giving! Some of these titles you can watch right now, some you’ll have to look forward to as they find their way to full release in the new year. Lastly, these selections come without commentary. I’m just going to lay them out, and encourage you to check out the Nightmare on Film Street Bonus Episode where Jon and I go through our Top 10 lists in more detail! It’s now available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, & Spotify.
One last thing before I drop my picks – I want to shoutout all of the film festivals we attended in 2018 for having us, and for continuing to celebrate genre film in a big way. It’s because of these festivals that we saw a majority of the films that we did in 2018. Nightmare on Film Street exists because of film. In addition to all of the talented filmmakers and storytellers, film exists because of those that celebrate it. In no particular order: Sundance, The Overlook Film Festival, Fantasia Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, TIFF Midnight Madness, Toronto After Dark, and Blood In the Snow Film Festival. Our Contributing team also has the opportunity to cover Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, Ithaca Fantastik, Boston Underground, Cinepocalypse, and the North Bend Film Festival.
Alright, without further lollygagging – Here are my Top 10 Horror Films of 2018!
10. Unfriended: Dark Web
Director: Stephen Susco
Writer: Stephen Susco
Cast: Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, Betty Gabriel
Plot: After finding a laptop, a young man goes online to play a game with five of his good friends. He shows them a mysterious folder that plays disturbing videos of people who appear to be in danger. They then receive an anonymous message that tells them they will all die if they disconnect or call the police. The planned night of fun quickly turns deadly as each user becomes the target of something sinister while the others watch helplessly in terror.
Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writer: David Kajganich (based on Characters by Dario Argento/Daria Nicolodi)
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Grace Moretz, Mia Goth
Plot: Young American dancer Susie Bannion arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Co. When she vaults to the role of lead dancer, the woman she replaces breaks down and accuses the company’s female directors of witchcraft. Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist and a member of the troupe uncover dark and sinister secrets as they probe the depths of the studio’s hidden underground chambers.
[Editor’s Note: Wait a minute! Didn’t I give this movie a complicated and lackluster review? Yep, sure did. Suspiria ultimately made the list because upon re-watching, it is one of the most creative and conversation-provoking films of 2018. I stand by my original arguments in my review of the film, and those still are indeed still my opinions, but I believe this film succeeded in being a discussion piece for 2018 and has earned a spot here.]
Director: Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi, Adesh Prasad
Writer: Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, Rahi Anil Barve, Anand Gandhi
Cast: Cameron Anderson, Ronjini Chakraborty, Deepak Damle
Plot: A man and his son encounter a legendary demon while searching for hidden treasure in 19th-century India.
7. Bad Times at the El Royale
Director: Drew Goddard
Writer: Drew Goddard
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson
Plot: The El Royale is run-down hotel that sits on the border between California and Nevada. It soon becomes a seedy battleground when seven strangers — a cleric, a soul singer, a traveling salesman, two sisters, the manager and the mysterious Billy Lee — converge on a fateful night for one last shot at redemption before everything goes wrong.
Director: Tilman Singer
Writer: Tilman Singer
Cast: Johannes Benecke, Jan Bluthardt, Lilli Lorenz
Plot: A rainy night. Dazed and numb, Luz, a young cabdriver, drags herself into the brightly lit entrance of a run-down police station. In a nightspot, Nora seductively engages police psychiatrist Dr. Rossini in a conversation. She tells the Doctor about her old schoolmate Luz’ rebellious past at a Chilean school for girls.
Director: Panos Cosmatos
Writer: Panos Cosmatos, Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache
Plot: In the Pacific Northwest in 1983, outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence. When their pine-scented haven is savagely destroyed by a cult led by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand, Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with deadly fire.
Director: Cory Finley
Writer: Cory Finley
Cast: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin
Plot: Childhood friends Lily and Amanda reconnect in suburban Connecticut after years of growing apart. Lily has turned into a polished upper-class teenager who has a fancy boarding school on her transcript and a coveted internship on her resume. Amanda has developed a sharp wit and her own particular attitude but all in the process of becoming a social outcast. Though they initially seem completely at odds, the pair eventually bond and hatch a plan to solve both of their problems.
Director: Chang-dong Lee
Writer: Jungmi Oh, Chang-dong Lee (Based on the Short Story ‘Barn Burning’ by Haruki Murakami)
Cast: Ah-In Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jeon
Plot: Jong-soo runs into Hae-mi, a girl who once lived in his neighborhood, and she asks him to watch her cat while she’s out of town. When she returns, she introduces him to Ben, a man she met on the trip. Ben proceeds to tell Jong-soo about his hobby.
2. The Guilty
Director: Gustav Möller
Writer: Gustav Möller, Emil Nygaard Albertsen
Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Omar Shargawi
Plot: Alarm dispatcher and former police officer Asger Holm answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins.
Director: Ari Aster
Writer: Ari Aster
Cast: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne
Plot: When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter and grandchildren begin to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry, trying to outrun the sinister fate they have inherited.
Were you surprised? I sure was. Before I send you off to tweet, share, and recommend your own picks from 2018 – here are a few of my Honorable Mentions that didn’t quite make the top 10, but were amazing flicks in their own right – Apostle, Ghost Stories, Dans La Brume, A Quiet Place, Overlord, The Wind, and The Scythian.
Now, I know you’re itching to tell me off for not having A Quiet Place and Halloween on my lists, but before you go – thank you for being a part of the Nightmare on Film Street community in 2018. Jon and I appreciate every review, pledge, download, tweet, follow, and share. We’re so grateful to be a part of this community, and we wouldn’t be able to create podcasts, reviews and articles, without our amazing Contributing team, and you – the FIENDS.