Annihilation

Favorite Things: Best of 2018

TOP 10 HORROR FILMS

10. All the Creatures Were Stirring

creatures

There are new Christmas horror films every year, and this is one of my favorite additions of the past decade. The anthology, written/directed by Rebekah and David Ian McKendry, has a little something for everyone and perfectly combines chills, laughs, and the holiday spirit. Click here for my full review.

9. Bird Box

box

I had a difficult time choosing between Bird Box and A Quiet Place, but I thought this film was ever so slightly more well-put together. The film is thrilling while also pulling on the viewer’s heartstrings. What really elevates the film is the concept for the entities killing off the human race. Click here for my full review.

8. Overlord

overlord

This film definitely surprised me. It is visually beautiful, has fantastic performances, and is as exciting as it his frightening. The filmmakers perfectly blend historical events with the horror genre in a way that catches the audience’s attention. Click here for my full review.

7. The Ritual

ritual

The Ritual is dark, mysterious, and brings a depth to your typical lost in the woods subgenre of horror. The film uses gorgeous visuals to create a metaphor for grief and guilt. It also has some of the most beautiful creature design I’ve seen in a while. Click here for my full review.

6. Cam

cam

It’s not every day that sex work is portrayed in a way that is both realistic and non-negative. Cam does just that, plus it has a suspenseful horror twist that catches the viewer’s attention right up until the credits roll. Click here for my full review.

5. Suspiria (2018)

suspiria

This remake of Argento’s classic film brings audiences a new and hauntingly beautiful film. It boasts a compelling plot, outstanding performances, and some scenes of rather shocking brutality. The filmmakers definitely succeeded in honoring Argento’s film while also creating something new and unique. Click here for my full review.

4. Revenge

revenge

Revenge is a film not talked about enough this year. The rape-revenge film, directed by Coralie Fargeat, truly brings something beautiful to the sometimes controversial subgenre of horror. It is visually stunning, has amazing performances, and has one of my favorite scores of the year. Click here for my full review.

3. Mandy

mandy

This film was made for Nic Cage. It is insanity personified with amazing visuals, loads of carnage, and an amazing 80’s aesthetic. Cage shines in the role, and he delivers one of his most memorable performances to date. Click here for my full review.

2. Annihilation

annihilation

This scifi-horror genre bender is one of the most thought-provoking films of the year. It also has some of the best CGI effects of the past decade, creating an absolutely gorgeous film that is also terrifying in its own way. The female-driven film has it’s polarizing moments, but I loved every minute of it. Click here for my full review.

1. Hereditary

hereditary

Hereditary is the kind of horror film that is truly terrifying to me, and it is one of the scariest films I’ve seen in ages. It stuck with me long after the film ended. Toni Collette should win all the awards for her performance, and Alex Wolff held his own right along with her. This is the kind of film that you can watch again and again and still notice new details. Click here for my full review.

TOP 5 SHORT FILMS

  1. Wild
  2. What Metal Girls Are Into
  3. The Night Delivery
  4. Love Cuts Deep
  5. The Day Mum Became a Monster

TOP 5 TV SHOWS

  1. Channel Zero: The Dream Door
  2. Haunting of Hill House
  3. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
  4. American Horror Story: Apocalypse
  5. Ash vs. Evil Dead (ended in 2018)

TOP 5 HORROR EVENTS

  1. The Last Drive-In With Joe Bob Briggs – Shudder
  2. Diners of Death with Joe Bob Briggs – Shudder
  3. A Very Joe Bob Christmas – Shudder
  4. International Horror and Sci-fi Film Festival – Phoenix, AZ
  5. Into the Dark – Hulu

TOP 5 HORROR FILM SCORES

  1. Revenge – Rob
  2. Halloween (2018) – John Carpenter, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies
  3. Suspiria (2018) – Thom Yorke
  4. Mandy – Jóhann Jóhannsson
  5. Summer of 84 – Le Matos

Annihilation

annihilation

Several months ago a biologist’s husband went on a top secret mission. He suddenly returns, only to fall deathly ill; then, both of them are taken in by the military. The biologist learns her husband was investigating an environmental disaster zone, and no one is sure how he got out. She volunteers, along with four other women, to be the next team to enter what is known as the “Shimmer.” Once inside, they realize the very laws of nature are being rewritten.

Alex Garland (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later) directed this film and wrote the screenplay based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel. This is only the second film directed by Garland, but it is clear that he is the next great filmmaker. The plot of this film stands out for several reasons. One is that the film follows a group of five strong, intelligent women. The team consists of a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, a physicist, and a paramedic. Not only are these women physically strong, but they are some of the best in their field. It is great to see this added to the list of recent films focusing on female role models. Another aspect of this film that makes it unique is all the strange and beautiful horrors the team encounters once they enter the Shimmer. Everything we know as natural is altered within the Shimmer, and it results in insane hybrids that shouldn’t be scientifically possible. Some of these hybrids are hypnotically beautiful, others are monstrous and deadly. Finally, the alien threat that caused the Shimmer is another aspect that makes this film stand out. The reason for the alien arrival, and the resulting events, is something rarely seen in sci-fi films. I won’t get too specific, because this is a film you have to see to believe.

While this film is clearly a huge cinematic achievement, it is also not for every viewer. Some of the more abstract scientific themes of the film may not appeal to all audiences. However, this alone shouldn’t ruin the film for viewers. Even if the concepts are a bit complex, it is still a thrilling, often terrifying, and sometimes beautiful film. The excitement alone will hold the attention of most audiences. The other drawback, to certain viewers, will likely be the ending. The film leaves certain questions unanswered, allowing the audience to make their own conclusions. I enjoyed both the strange science of the film and the way Garland chose to end the film, but there will be many people who will not feel this way.

The entire cast is absolutely superb in this film. While each member of the expedition team has stand out moments, there are two who stand out to me as having the strongest performances. Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Jackie) takes over the leading role as biologist and soldier Lena. Portman has always been a talented actress. She brings something a bit different to this performance because not only is her character brilliant, but she was also a soldier. It makes her character uniquely suited for this expedition, and Portman portrays a soldier-like strength that I haven’t seen from her before. Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok, Creed) also shines as the physicist, Josie. Josie is the least mentally stable of the group, and likely should never have been allowed to join the team. Thompson stands out in this role because she gives one of the most unexpected performances, and she reacts to being inside the Shimmer in a very interesting way. It was difficult to pick only two performances, but I would imagine every viewer will have different performances that stand out to them.

This is one of the most visually fantastic films of the year – if not the past several years. The things that happen inside the Shimmer, created in the mind of author VanderMeer, are so bizarre and original. Bringing this to the screen takes an equal amount of imagination and some brilliant CGI. Inside the Shimmer all species, even across different kingdoms, combine to create horrifying hybrids that are often as deadly as they are stunning. CGI is the only way to properly achieve these hybrids, and the work done in this film is positively spectacular. This film is an example of the right way to utilize CGI.

Annihilation is a visionary film that pushes the boundaries of the human imagination. Garland has yet again proven that he is not only a talented screenwriter, but an even more talented director. His talents are perfectly complemented by an extraordinarily talented cast. On top of everything, this film is filled to the brim with the most imaginative imagery, all of it perfectly executed through CGI. While some of the themes will polarize audiences, it is clear that this film is a near-perfect cinematic gem.

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10