One of the darkest and most uncomfortable watches of 2018 was Matthew Holness’ psychological British horror film Possum. Starring Sean Harris (24 Hour Party People, Harry Brown) as a tortured and disturbed man Philip who returns to his childhood home to confront his despicable stepfather played by Alun Armstrong (The Mummy Returns, Sleepy Hollow). With aesthetics covered in dirty fingerprints and sickening secrets, Possum crawls with all eight legs underneath your skin and provides a constant atmosphere lurking with creepy crawlies and an awful past that needs to be burnt alive.
9. You Were Never Really Here
Joaquin Phoenix (Walk The Line, Her) delivers another stellar performance in You Were Never Really Here from director Lynne Ramsay, who outstanded us with her previous sombre film We Need To Talk About Kevin. We follow Joe who is a former solider and now partakes in private security jobs that require a penchant for extreme violence, as he searches for a missing girl. Phoenix is convincing as he provides sequences laced with trauma from his past, and as he slowly becomes engulfed with delusions that are hard to distinguish. As the conspiracy grows while Joe searches for the girl, the violence pairs the pacing and becomes more disturbing with every punch.
Character-driven and harrowing, Netflix original film Cargo from Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling is an example that zombie films don’t always have to be slathered with disembowlments. Andy is a down-to-earth father who finds himself facing the end of the world with his baby daughter in tow. His only vision is to find someone that can protect her from the apocalypse, but that’s a tough plight when stranded in the Australian outback. Martin Freeman drives this film with his perfect performance as a doting Dad trying to ensure his daughter can survive. A refreshing take on the zombie movie that will continuously break your heart while making you desperate for a happy ending.
7. The Night Eats The World
Another zombie film, but this time it’s psychological which often seems impossible when it comes to flesh eating monsters. The Night Eats The World (or La Nuit A Dévoré Le Monde) comes from Dominique Rocher and displays that you don’t need to focus solely on gore. Sam played by Anders Danielsen Lie attends his ex’s party to awaken and find that the zombie apocalypse has begun. Isolated in an apartment building in the centre of Paris and with nowhere to go, he begins to make a plan for survival. The Night Eats The World intelligently portrays a realistic setting for the apocalypse and focuses on the plight of man during such a disaster. Loneliness and despair are far more terrifying than any undead in this film.
6. The Endless
A few years ago I was recommending to everyone that would listen a little independent film called Resolution from two unknown filmmakers called Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson. Hopefully a few of you listened, because it would have prepared you for the outstanding follow-up that is The Endless. Moorhead and Benson play both the leads in this film, and manage to perform just as well as they direct. When two brothers receive a cryptic message from a cult they previously escaped from, they decide to return to find closure that the cult was nothing more than just a strange community. Combining science fiction with horror, The Endless is smart, twisting and surprised me just as much as Resolution did. These two directors are going places!
For many years Nicolas Cage has become an internet sensation; he is a million memes, GIFs, his face is on pillows, t-shirts and just about anything you could imagine. Although it’s knocked his reputation as a credible actor, it seems that nothing will stop the Cage from performing and that’s why Mandy is so fucking amazing. Director Panos Cosmatos (Beyond The Black Rainbow) designed a film that was specifically fit for a Cage rage and it works exceptionally well. When Red’s girlfriend Mandy is taken by a Satanic cult, he delves into a bloody nightmare to get his love back. This psychedelic film is like an acid trip gone bad, with knife-tipped dicks, demons that make the Cenobites look like puppies, dream-like sequences and astronomical levels of violence.
Leigh Whanell has been delighting audiences with horror films for some time now, but nothing has delivered quite like his latest film Upgrade did. After a mugging that leaves him without his wife and to live as a paraplegic, it seems that Trace has lost the life he had built for himself and his partner. When a millionaire offers him an artificial intelligence system implant that will give him back his ability to move, it seems too good to turn down. Trace soon learns he has super human strength and uses it to exact revenge on those that destroyed his life. Logan Marshall-Green first caught my attention in The Invitation, and delivered once again in this film. Upgrade has all the elements you could wish for; action, body-horror, revenge, sci-fi and more. It’s slick, stylish and shot so well that you’ll be pumped with adrenaline.
3. A Quiet Place
You might be more familiar with John Krasinski as Jim in comedy TV show The Office, but as director of A Quiet Place he proves that he’s more than just a pretty face and witty jokes. Set in a world where monsters attack at any slight noise, one family must stay silent in order to survive. If you managed to escape from hearing the buzz around A Quiet Place then you must have been hiding underneath a rock as this film was a horror that dominated 2018. Through the inventive use of sensory horror that explored how humans would survive without one vital tool of communication, this film has breached way for a new wave of films that use sense including the most recent Bird Box. This film also featured deaf actress Millicent Simmonds which was a great way to show inclusion of actors with disabilities is possible.
2. The House That Jack Built
The number 2 spot on this list had been reserved for the extreme and controversial film Climax from a personal favourite director Gaspar Noé (Irreversible) but to my dismay and disappointment (in myself) I’ve not been able to see this film. Therefore it only seems suitable to give this spot to the only other film deserving of it which is from another of my favourite directors; The House That Jack Built from Lars Von Trier. Perturbing the audience once again with a cerebral serial killer film starring the incredible Matt Dillon as an aspiring architect with a love for clean lines, sharp interiors and slaughtering women and children whenever possible. This controversial film made me fall in love with Von Trier even more and his completely over-the-top style of filmmaking that takes the piss out of himself, the audience and society at every turn. Read my full review/swoon here.
Was there really going to be any other film in this spot? It seems almost impossible that anyone could deem Hereditary not worthy a spot in the top five horror films of 2018, yet there are some out there… Ari Aster’s directorial debut film embodies everything that should come from a disturbing horror movie that stays with the audience for afterwards. Slow yet beautifully paced with well-timed shock moments that will leave your jaw a mile behind you. Some of the most impressive performances ever given in horror from Toni Collette, Alex Wolff and Milly Shapiro. There’s really nothing more to say than if you somehow missed this film from 2018 – go watch it now.
What were your top horror films of 2018? Let me know over on Twitter!