Happy New Year, my hellions! I hope you all survived the holidays with your gray matter intact. With the start of the new year comes the obligatory list of horror movie badassery. The genre has been on a roll lately and I was hoping to close out the decade with a bang. Alas, that wasn’t so. I was genuinely worried that I wouldn’t find 13 good flix to put on my list. Thank Cthulu (and a case of the Christmas cruds) that I had some downtime to search desperately for any and all horror movies and my new Roku to help me watch them. So, let’s get on with it, shall we? And as always, I’ve provided trailers to get your motors humming.
#13 – SWEETHEART
This little number dropped on Netflix just in time to make the 2019 cut. It was The Creature From the Dessert Island and I dug the hell out of it. A girl washes up on a beautiful, remote island, only to find out there is a killer sea creature that comes ashore each night looking for fresh (or even dead) meat. Two gills up!
#12 – US
Yes, I know Jordan Peele is the second coming of John Carpenter, Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling all rolled into one. Us is a slick flick with some great performances and real laugh out loud moments. But once I tugged on the story’s thread, the whole thing just fell apart for me. It gets on the list for its quality. Just don’t spend any time trying to figure out the logic of it all.
#11 – PIERCING
What a hella weird movie. Just what the doctor ordered on a cold and dark December night. A man decides he absolutely must kill a hooker and gets a hotel room ready for the dirty deed. Only the lady of the evening is nothing he was expecting. The city is comprised of models and you never get a sense of time and place. It’s a freaking fever dream that would give David Lynch or David Cronenberg a right stiffie. Mia Wasikowska is outstanding.
#10 – SATANIC PANIC
Pretty pizza delivery girl goes to the very wrong house and gets mixed up in a night of sacrifice at a suburban cult. All I can say is that this is a blast. Zippy, bloody, funny as hell, because that’s where these soccer moms and dads want to party. Rebecca Romjin as the cult leader is just killer bee. One of my favorite horror comedies, for sure.
#9 – ZOMBIELAND 2
I had zero expectations for this one, especially since it’s been 10 years and an Oscar win since the first. But damn was I wrong. What makes these movies is the chemistry between our 4 survivors: Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin. I’ll be the first to say the zombie genre should have its head cut off, but then this comes along and forces me to eat some crow (brains). Now I actually want a third helping!
#8 – HARPOON
Three old friends take a trip to the sea and end up murderlizing each other in my biggest surprise of the year. The budget here is small, but the writing and acting are large. It’s plain fun in the sun with a dash of backstabbing brutality and cannibalism??? You have to see it to believe it.
#7 – CRAWL
A full on b-grade monster movie that gets a wide theatrical release? Shit yeah! Director Alexandre Aja drops a father and daughter into the eye of the storm where they are trapped in their rapidly flooding house filled with and surrounded by hungry alligators. Way better than it should be, Crawl is a throwback flick that’s only missing Ray Miland or Doug McClure. A must see.
#6 – THE NIGHTINGALE
In all honesty, this is the best movie I saw all year. It’s technically not a horror movie, though some things happen here that step well beyond anything Jason Voorhees has ever done. A woman with nothing left to lose tracks down the British soldiers who waster her family in 1825 Tasmania. Not for the faint of heart, this will both depress the heck out of you and lift you up.
#5 – MIDSOMMER
The second cult movie on the list, Ari Aster has done it again with his follow up to Hereditary. This is one long, trippy movie with an ending that will leave you speechless. Aster’s artistry flows from the veins of Kubrick and can be thoroughly enjoyed with no sound at all. He’s definitely working out some issues about pain and loss through his movies. This was also the year of looong horror movies (I’m talking to you, It 2) and the director’s cut of Midsommer is over three hours long! Worth every minute.
#4 – TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID
This Mexican import grabbed me by the feels and kicked the ever-loving shit out of them. A band of orphaned children in a town run by a drug cartel are hounded by cartel killers. I haven’t had a movie affect me emotionally like this in a long time. It’s part fairy tale, part way-too-real and wholly unique and amazing.
#3 – VILLAINS
I’ll bet dollars to donuts most of you haven’t even heard of this one. I was lucky enough to catch it in the theater during it’s 3 day run. Starring Maika Monroe (It Follows) and Bill Skarsgard (Pennywise), this is instantly my favorite home invasion movie. A bumbling couple break into the home of 50s-looking homicidal maniacs. This is one I will own and watch every single year until I drop dead from too much horror.
#2 – READY OR NOT
Hands down, the most fun I had at the movies all year. Samara Weaving is cementing herself as the IT GIRL, knocking it out of the park in this satire about rich asswads who sell their souls for fortune and fame. I laughed so hard my jaw hurt. The kills are great and the ending is sheer perfection. Not one missed note. When I walked out of the theater, I said nothing was going to knock this from my number one spot. And then came…
#1 – DOCTOR SLEEP
I have no idea how Mike Flanagan pulled this one off. He had to make a movie that was a sequel to the movie, The Shining, as well as the book, and the follow up book, Doctor Sleep. This is the kind of stuff that needs to be studied in film school. It gives you all the nostalgia you have for The Overlook and adds a new chapter to the tale of Danny Torrance that is simply mind blowing. The movie itself is gorgeous to look at and the performances by Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson are spot on. This is a sweeping epic that you rarely see in horror and it’s a shame the opinions of boneheaded critics kept people from going to see it. I’m absolutely gobsmacked (love that word) by what Flanagan accomplished here and will be adding it to the steady rotation. I could write a book on all the things that make this great, but I’ll spare you all.