This has been a pretty good year for horror at the box office, but a kind of uneven year for the genre at the box office, though I’m sure there are some out there who disagree. There were some popular horror films this year I wasn’t a big fan of and some others I didn’t bother with. Most of my choices this year ended up being pretty indie but that’s the way it goes some times. Also worth noting that I’m viewing The Shallows and 10 Cloverfield Lane as being more akin to thrillers than horror movies and I’m viewing The Neon Demon as being more of a… whatever the hell that movie is.
- Darling: Darling is one of those movies that wears its influences on its skin (in this case those influences being Repulsion and other movies inspired by Repulsion) but it does manage to feel like it adds on that template though smart execution. The movie is laser focused on being this cacophonous sort of mental portrait of a woman who is truly batshit insane. The film uses some really intense editing choices and sound design choices to make the film this fairly intense if perhaps a bit thin experience.
- Hush: Don’t Breath was the preferred home invasion film involving a disabled person by most people this year, my favorite in that very specific sub-genre was the under-seen little movie Hush. In this film the disabled person (a deaf woman) is the victim rather than the villain, which is probably a less daring choice but it’s one they’re actually capable of pulling off. The rest of the movie doesn’t re-invent the wheel but it does build tension at times and it does build believable scenarios about how this sort of situation would play out.
- The Invitation: The Invitation is kind of one of those odd cases where you’re not actually sure if what you’re watching is actually a horror movie or if the characters in it are just paranoid. Set over the course of an evening dinner party, the film follows a guy who begins to think the people hosting this party are up to something. The movie does a pretty good job of giving you just enough to think that the guy’s suspicions are valid but also enough to see how it could go the other way. When all is revealed the suspense scenes are nothing too special, but it does recover with a pretty well executed “Twilight Zone”-esque final couple of shots.
- Under the Shadow: Under the Shadow is an entrant in the “the monsters are a manifestation of the protagonist’s psyche” sub-genre of horror. I suppose any horror movie could be interpreted in that way, but some put this sort of reading more front and center than others. Set in Iran not long after the revolution and during the Iran-Iraq war, the film depicts a woman being haunted by Djinn, which may be a manifestation of her society’s restrictive norms entrapping her.
- The Witch: There are a lot of people making horror movies who sometimes seem like they haven’t seen a horror movie made before 1974 and live almost entirely in the shadow of John Carpenter. Good movies can certainly be made running off that template but there’s something immensely refreshing about seeing a horror movie made by someone who has dug deep into the roots of horror and macabre literature to make a movie that taps into primal fears while still making a movie that lives up to a lot of the modern standards of what makes good horror.