Artwork via Chris Fischer

It’s a tough job naming the “Best” Horror Films of 2018, since everyone’s criteria for what they want out of a horror movie is vastly different. To some, the “best” means the scariest, but if I judged solely by what films disturbed me the most then that damn Overboard remake would likely be a contender this year. (If I watched it that is.)

2018 was also challenging to keep up with. We got sci-fi thrillers, franchise reboots, Netflix Originals, and everything in between. It saddens me the Halloween reboot was nowhere near my top 5 or possibly even my top 10. However, I’m thankful so many original horror films and TV shows were killing it in 2018. I will shamefully admit I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to this year, but here are some of my favorites looking back on what 2018 had to offer.

5. Upgrade

Upgrade
‘Upgrade’ – Blumhouse Productions

This sci-fi, fringe horror film written and directed by Leigh Whannell is a fresh take on a familiar concept. Modern Luddite Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) must unwillingly turn to the aid of a state-of-the-art computer chip implanted in his spinal chord when his wife is murdered, and their attackers leave him paralyzed from the neck down.

The brutal fight choreography doesn’t just function as action filler; it also works to illustrate Grey’s symbiotic relationship with his A.I. companion S.T.E.M.. Grey often looks like a passenger in his own body as he watches in horror while S.T.E.M. overrides his motor functions to carve up some baddies. Logan Marshall-Green delivers a poignant performance all the way to Upgrade’s satisfying conclusion.

4. Ghost Stories

‘Ghost Stories’ – IFC Midnight

Ghost Stories made our skeptical main character Professor Goodman, and audiences alike, question everything we thought was real in this eerie anthology. Each segment was utterly spine-tingling as Goodman’s bizarre investigation continued to raise more questions than answers.

The film begs to be analyzed and rewatched for the subtle themes and clues on the way to its mind-bending climax. But, as the title suggests, even the casual viewer will appreciate this anthology just for what it offers on the surface…Some damn spooky ghost stories.

3. The Ritual

‘The Ritual’ (2018) – Netflix

It’s become common for modern horror films to a pull bait-and-switch when it comes to paranormal elements, but The Ritual embraces the supernatural without going off the rails.

The Descent is often referenced as one of the best modern horror movies, and The Ritual shares many of its virtues, while being its own unique story. David Bruckner’s backwoods horror film is everything 2016’s Blair Witch reboot should have been. Ominous, patient, atmospheric, and downright creepy.

2. A Quiet Place

‘A Quiet Place’ – Paramount Pictures

Never have I sat in a packed theater twice for the same movie and have been able to hear a pin drop both times. A Quiet Place is a sleek, white-knuckle experience with a hook that proved to be more than a gimmick. John Krasinksi’s venture in the horror genre took everything he learned from dramas and applied it to a focused, gripping tale.

Krasinski’s A Quiet Place doesn’t stand out just because of its interesting concept, and suspenseful storytelling. It also remembers to be heartfelt, and make you care about the characters. That’s why sometimes fresh eyes like Kransinski’s can be invaluable in the horror genre.

1. Hereditary

‘Hereditary’ – A24

Ari Aster’s masterful Hereditary relentlessly amped up the suspense and refused to provide audience the sweet relief of jump scares. The tension is torturous throughout, and many of us will never forget the infamous car scene that left audiences wide-eyed with bated breath for what seemed like an eternity.

Hereditary plunges a family into a nightmare as we watch the Graham’s get torn apart by tragedy and evil. Incredible performances by Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, and Miley Shapiro coupled with merciless tension leaves us haunted by this disturbing family affair.

Honorable Mentions:

Mandy

Mandy – photo courtesy SpectreVision/RLJE Films.

Panos Cosmatos takes us on one hypnotic journey for vengeance that looks like heaven, but feels like hell. Needless to say, you can get lost in Mandy’s stunning, technicolored visuals the same way you lose all track of time staring at a lava lamp. The late Jóhann Jóhannsson gifted this film with what would sadly be one of his last beautiful scores, and helped take audiences on this surreal adventure of rock and revenge.

Nicolas Cage delivers a performance teetering between sorrow and insanity in that way only Nicolas Cage can do. I never thought I’d be so zen watching a bloody chainsaw death match, but this film puts you in such a trance that nothing could possibly ruin it.

Apostle

Apostle
‘Apostle’ – Netflix

Gareth Evans, best known for The Raid films, clearly knows how to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Seeing the writer/director bring his dynamic visual style and knack for suspense from hard-hitting crime thrillers to a horror/thriller was a thing of beauty.

The Guest’s Dan Stevens delivers another brilliant performance in Apostle as a man who’s trying to infiltrate a cult controlled island to save his sister. This bleak period film is elevated by gorgeous cinematography and Evans’ ability to tighten the screw with nail-biting scenes and a tight script.

What are some of your favorite horror films of 2018? Let us know in the comments!

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