By: Ben McBride
2017 may have been a less-than-stellar year in many walks of life, but it bestowed upon us some truly great horror.
Here are my Top 10 Horror Films of 2017:
Darren Aronofsky’s eco-horror allegory is understandably divisive. Even I don’t know how I feel about it completely, even now. But I’m placing it here because it emotionally disturbed me (like it actually stirred up a small anxiety attack post-movie) and it had me thinking about it long after I saw it in the theater. Even if I can’t say I absolutely love it, I have huge respect for what Aronofsky pulled off and I look forward to revisiting it to continue to peel back its layers.
9. The Babysitter
A horror comedy from director McG? Color me skeptical. I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying The Babysitter and found it to be rather tongue-in-cheek funny, and stylistic in almost an absurd manner. And hey, Samara Weaving…I’m single (she’s totally going to read this and call me).
8. Happy Death Day
Another movie I was unnecessarily skeptical of after seeing the trailer was this new release from Blumhouse. The movie features a fun spin on the slasher genre and a main character that you grow to like despite her less than appealing personality at the beginning. Who knew there would be some satisfying character development in a horror movie made seemingly based on its concept? I love when movies prove my expectations wrong, and this one did so while being wholly entertaining.
7. The Blackcoat’s Daughter
Despite this being Oz Perkins directorial debut from 2015, The Blackcoat’s Daughter didn’t get released until early 2017. And what a promising start to a filmmaking career it is. This dark, coldly atmospheric tale hooked me immediately and had me all the way until its reveal at the end. Shout out to some excellent performances from its leading ladies.
6. The Devil’s Candy
The sophomore effort from writer/director Sean Byrne cements him as someone to watch in horror. The Devil’s Candy feels like a breath of fresh air in the originality department. The great family dynamic at the heart of the movie carried me through this engrossing watch and it features a great performance from Ethan Embry.
5. The Transfiguration
A hypnotic and fascinating psychological horror film that feels reminiscent of George Romero’s Martin. It celebrates some of the vampire subgenre’s more accomplished works and makes itself a great addition to the genre.
4. Get Out
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut proves the Key & Peele funny man has got more than what it takes to create a highly intelligent and effective horror film. Social horror may have existed before this movie but Get Out deftly puts the subgenre on the map, and rightly so, as it tackles racial issues with aplomb while delivering very solid horror tension. I was incredibly impressed with Peele’s capabilities as a writer and director, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.
3. The Girl With All The Gifts
This movie kind of blew me away with its originality and depth. The zombie subgenre is well worn territory and this movie breathes new life into it. It’s intelligent, surprisingly charming at times, and heart-wrenching. I had heard good things about this movie but I didn’t expect to fall in love with it.
This slow-burn horror parable follows a girl as she awakens to her true self and discovers she has a taste for the perverse. Perhaps to some this film might be an unusual way to tackle female empowerment and sexual awakening, but hey, it’s the horror genre — we like our shit weird! Writer/director Julia Ducournau (another feature debut here) makes a shocking and compelling film that is beautiful and slightly anarchic in its humor. There is undoubtedly material here that will make some people queasy but the film has a personality that carries you through the hard-to-watch stuff, making you eager to see where it will land. I feel like my top two spots are fairly interchangeable, as I think Raw is one of the best horror movies to not only come out this year, but the past decade.
Some may balk at IT‘s placement as number one, but for me, this was one of the most satisfying horror movie experiences all year. Not only did a studio (Warner Bros) take a risk on R-rated horror, but they allowed it to be made with an uncompromisingly dark tone. IT pulls no punches in terms of disturbing material, but it balances it out with a truly funny and endearing coming-of-age tale. Pennywise is unsettling to say the least and the cast of Losers is fantastic. Director Andy Muschietti crafts this adaptation skillfully and makes a film that greatly improves upon his previous solid entry into the horror genre, Mama. When IT ended, I immediately wanted Chapter Two to begin and it kills me that I have to wait for it. But I’m also very happy that IT was embraced by movie-going audiences and has become the highest-grossing horror movie of all time (domestically). Welcome to the Losers’ Club, people! You’ll float too, you’ll float too, YOU’LL FLOAT TOO!