If any of you listen the Eye on Horror podcast (which you all should), you know that I have a pretty loose interpretation of the word “horror.” Actually, I hate the phrase “that’s not horror,” because elements of horror can be found in just about any movie.
This time of year, you’re seeing a lot of lists, and they all probably contain pretty much the same ten or fifteen movies. And there’s a reason; movies like Hereditary, Suspiria, and Halloween are great. But this list is a little different. These are the movies that some people may not consider to be “true horror,” but should appeal to horror fans nonetheless – Fringe Horror. So, without further ado, here are my Top Ten Fringe Horror Movies of 2018.
This movie has nothing to do with Trump’s wall. Border is a creepy little Swedish movie about a customs officer who, because of her innate talent of being able to smell fear on people, excels at detecting people smuggling contraband into the country. When she meets a kindred spirit, things get weird. To say more would spoil it, but just know that neither the border agent nor her new friend are normal people.
9. The Endless
The Endless is about two brothers who escape a cult, only to be drawn back to it when they receive a strange videotape in the mail. This one was written and directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the guys behind Resolution and Spring (who also play the two brothers). Again, without spoiling anything, just know that, while seeing the pair’s earlier movies is not necessary for enjoyment of The Endless, it does add an extra layer of excitement.
Speaking of excitement…RAMPAGE!! Those of you who do listen to Eye on Horror have heard me and my cohosts Jon Correia and Jacob Davison go on and on about this one. For me, I love this modern kaiju movie unironically, mainly because I was a big fan of the video game and it holds a special nostalgic place in my heart. And besides; how can you go wrong with giant apes, wolves, and alligators? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is just icing on the cake.
There has been a small rash of movies over the last few years, like the Unfriended series and The Den, that use modern technology as filmmaking tools, and Searching is one of the best. It’s about a man who…searches…for his missing daughter, using her computer and social media accounts to find clues. It’s a fascinating mystery that takes more than one dark turn as it plays itself out.
6. Assassination Nation
Sort of like Spring Breakers meets The Purge, Assassination Nation is about a town that falls victim to a data hack that exposes all of its citizens’ dirty little secrets. Four high school girls find themselves at the center of the controversy, and let’s just say that things get a bit violent. Assassination Nation is a bit like watching a music video that’s an hour and forty-eight minutes long – it’s hip, fast-paced, and full of surreal imagery. One of the most unique movies of 2018, and it features the single best camera shot of the year, too.
5. You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay is one of the most challenging filmmakers working today, and it’s a shame that it’s taken so long for her to follow up We Need to Talk About Kevin, but You Were Never Really Here was well worth the wait. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a veteran who tracks down missing girls for a living. His jobs frequently get violent, but his latest gig is his most brutal. A surprisingly sensitive performance from Phoenix and a stellar score from Jonny Greenwood are the anchors for this one.
Upgrade is about a man who, after suddenly becoming quadriplegic, has a microchip implanted in his spine that not only allows him to move his arms and legs again, but gives him superhuman abilities…and computer-smart advice to go with it. He immediately goes out to get revenge on those who crippled him initially. Written and directed by Leigh Whannell and starring Logan Marshall-Green, Upgrade is sci-fi action at its finest. It’s like what Venom would have been if it actually was the kind of movie that Tom Hardy thought it was.
Thoroughbreds is about two girls who rekindle a lost friendship. The fact that one of them is a bit unstable means that their relationship leads to a crazy murder plot. The cast is the highlight of this one, with the two girls being played by Olivia Cooke (Oujia, The Quiet Ones) and Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split), and with the late Anton Yelchin (Green Room, Fright Night) appearing in his final screen role. Thoroughbreds is a bit like Heathers if the Heathers were actually psychotic.
2. Bad Times at the El Royale
Remember when The Cabin in the Woods flipped that whole cabin in the woods cinematic trope on its head? Drew Goddard’s follow-up, Bad Times at the El Royale, does the same thing to the seedy hotel pulp archetype. It’s about a group of people that ends up at a hotel on the California-Nevada border, and none of them are who they are pretending to be. Mischief and misdeeds ensue. There’s an incredible cast in this one as well that includes Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Cynthia Erivo, Cailee Spaeny, and Lewis Pullman. Bad Times at the El Royale has got more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, and the final act is, let’s say, explosive.
1. A Quiet Place
Ok, so A Quiet Place is a bona-fide horror movie, but since I’ve seen people claim that it’s not, I’m including it here. Also because it’s the best movie of the year and belongs at the top of any best-of list, horror, fringe, or regular. John Krasinksi’s movie about a family that is trying to get by in a world that is full of monsters that are attracted by even the slightest of sounds is nothing short of a masterpiece. I saw it in theaters twice, and both times there were people leaving with popcorn buckets that were still ¾ full because they were afraid that their munching would make too much noise. There’s not much that’s more intense than a theater full of people sitting in rapt silence, hanging on every second of a movie. That’s the experience that A Quiet Place delivers.
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Feature image: Chris Fischer.