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Favorite Things: Best of 2019

As another year ends, it’s time for me to reflect on my favorite pieces of horror entertainment. It’s been another amazing year for horror, making it incredibly difficult to narrow down what I thought was the best. From movies to books to music to events, here are all of my best horror of 2019 selections!

BEST MOVIES OF 2019 (Note: I have two #1 films as I couldn’t choose between them)

10. Sweetheart

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I had a really hard time choosing between a few films to take this spot on my list, but ultimately Sweetheart stuck with me more than the others. Released on Netflix just before the end of the year, this film by J.D. Dillard brings together the thrills of an aquatic monster film with the deeper message of a social commentary film. I wish Blumhouse had done a bit more to get the word out about Sweetheart. It has great creature design/effects, a strong performance from Kiersey Clemons, and sends an important message. Full review here.

9. Harpoon

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This film surprised me because the three characters are so unlikeable! Normally this ruins a film for me because there isn’t anyone to root for, but it worked in Harpoon. Instead of rooting for someone to survive, we could all relish in their darkly humorous demise. The small setting on a boat adds to the tension of being trapped with people you hate and the performances from all three leads are wonderful to watch. Full review here.

8. Happy Death Day 2U

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It was hard to imagine there was any way to make a sequel to Happy Death Day. Yet writer/director Christopher Landon was able to double down and make a sequel that added to the mythos, injected even more humor, added some great sci-fi elements, and made the film have even more emotional depth. Plus, it’s impossible not to love Tree, played by Jessica Rothe. Full review here.

7. Crawl

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Everyone knows I’m a sucker for aquatic horror. Crawl was no exception. It drew from multiple fears people have including natural disasters, small spaces, and of course alligators. The film is very exciting and surprisingly gory, which is everything I could want from a killer gator film. Yet I believe the film held back just enough to keep it from getting too cheesy. Full review here.

6. The Perfection

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This was a film that caught me completely off guard. While watching for the first time, it shocked me again and again while also making me question what subgenre of horror it would end up fitting into. The many twists and turns, the unique format, and the overall plot made me fall in love with The Perfection. It may not work as well upon second watch, but I won’t forget how it felt watching it for the first time. Full review here.

5. Satanic Panic

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Satanic Panic is by far the funniest horror film I saw this year. I loved the play on the classic 80’s idea that the rich get rich by worshipping the devil. It allowed for some hilarious hijinks and fun practical effects. Plus, it’s impossible to not fall in love with the trifecta of badass female leads; Rebecca Romijn, Hayley Griffith, and Ruby Modine (especially Modine because she has the best dialogue). Full review here.

4. Tigers Are Not Afraid

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Writer and director Issa López truly created a powerful film with Tigers Are Not Afraid. It offers a unique glimpse into the lives of little kids surviving on the streets of Mexico, with an added supernatural element. The children acting in this film are absolutely fantastic. The balance of cartel violence, eeriness, and heartbreak tell a beautiful story that can appeal to even those who don’t enjoy horror. Full review here.

3. Daniel Isn’t Real

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This is a film with a plot that shouldn’t work on film. Yet Adam Egypt Mortimer not only made it work, but he create a beautiful film about trauma, mental illness, and inner demons. On top of having a great story, the film also has gorgeous visuals and superb performances from the two male leads. Daniel Isn’t Real is the kind of film that really takes an emotional toll and sticks with the audience long after it’s over. Full review here.

1. Doctor Sleep

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The more I think about it, the more I completely adore everything about this film. Mike Flanagan managed to write and direct what, in my opinion, might be the best Stephen King adaptation with Doctor Sleep. Not only did he bring the book to life, but Flanagan also managed to incorporate the film version of The Shining to appeal to fans of both the film and the books. The film really perfectly conveys trauma and addiction in a beautiful way, has fascinating characters, incorporates gorgeous visuals, and has a cast of amazing actors. Full review here.

1. Midsommar

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It might seem impossible to create an effective horror film drenched in daylight, but Midsommar does just that. Seeing truly horrific events unfold in the light and in a beautiful setting somehow makes everything more disturbing. Another emotionally driven film, the way writer and director Ari Aster is able to convey grief, trauma, and the longing for that feeling of “home” results in a memorable film experience. As someone who was once in a similar relationship as the one between Dani and Christian, I found the film to be especially cathartic to watch. Full review here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (Films I watched, but didn’t review – no order)

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, Wounds, The Nightingale, Knife + Heart, Velvet Buzzsaw, Ready or Not

BEST HORROR SHORTS OF 2019

5. Road Trash – Written and Directed by Natasha Pascetta

4. Fanatico – Directed by Hannah May Cumming, Written by Hannah May Cumming and Sam Schrader

3. Hana – Written and Directed by Mai Nakanishi

2. Cemetery Song – Directed by Michelle Prebich, Animated by Justine Prebich

1. Finley – Written and Directed by J. Zachary Thurman

BEST FILM SCORES OF 2019

5. Tigers Are Not Afraid – Music by Vince Pope

4. Black Site – Music by Max Sweiry

3. Candy Corn – Music by Michael Brooker and Josh Hasty

2. Midsommar – Music by The Haxan Cloak

1. Satanic Panic – Music by Wolfmen of Mars

BEST TV SHOWS OF 2019

5. Creepshow S1 – Shudder

4. N0S4A2 S1 – AMC

3. Castle Rock S2 – Hulu

2. What We Do in the Shadows S1 – FX

1. Stranger Things S3 – Netflix

BEST BOOKS I READ IN 2019 (not necessarily released this year)

5. Osgood as Gone by Cooper S. Beckett

4. The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

3. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

2. The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (I know this is cheating since it’s 3 books, but it’s my list so I don’t care)

1. Lady From the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick by Mallory O’Meara

BEST EVENTS OF 2019 (no specific order)

  • Midsummer Scream
  • Portland Horror Film Festival
  • The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder – including the holiday specials
  • Into the Dark on Hulu
  • Joe Bob Briggs Live: How Rednecks Saved Hollywood

 

 

Favorite Things: Feminist Films to Weed Out the Oafs

There has been a lot of clashing in the film community on social media. Much of it has been men targeting and attacking women for having a different opinion than they do. The opinions women are attacked for are often that a film with a feminist plot is good, entertaining, and/or has a great message. The fact that men attack women for these opinions is absolutely insane.

In honor of those troglodytes, I’ve created this list of five feminist films for women to show men (especially ones they are considering dating) in order to weed out the cretins from the good guys. To be clear: men don’t necessarily have to like all of these films since everyone has different taste. But if they sympathize with the men I point out in each film, or they’re against the feminist messages, then it’s time to kick them to the curb!

(This list will contain spoilers so avoid if you haven’t seen one of these films)

1. Black Christmas (1974)

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Many people seem to forget the feminist message sent in Black Christmas, but if you watch it again it will become glaringly obvious. In this classic slasher, we watch Jess (Olivia Hussey) as she reveals to her boyfriend that she is pregnant and intends to get an abortion. Her boyfriend, Peter (Keir Dullea), immediately reacts by trying to control Jess and force her to keep the fetus. However you feel about abortion, one person should not have control over another person’s body.

Peter, and his reaction, is clearly portrayed as a villain in the film. I’ve heard people say Peter is meant to be a red herring in the film, making the audience believe he could be the killer. To me, it was obvious he was never the killer, but he’s just as villainous as the serial killer. Both Peter and the killer are trying to ruin Jess’s life in their own way. If a man agrees with Peter and thinks he should have been able to force Jess to keep her pregnancy, effectively taking away her autonomy and destroying her life, then get rid of him now!

2. You’re Next

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This might be the least obvious choice on this list, but hear me out. In You’re Next Erin (Sharni Vinson), who is arguably the most badass final girl ever, has to fight for survival as a trio of masked men attack a family get-together. The twist comes when she discovers her own boyfriend, Crispian (AJ Bowen), was in on the murder plot in order to inherit his family’s fortune. While Crispian insists the plan was for Erin to survive as a “witness,” the betrayal and living hell he put Erin through leads to her stabbing him in the neck.

It’s bad enough that Crispian plotted to kill his family, who he didn’t seem to care much for, but to put the girlfriend he supposedly loves in danger is taking it too far. Erin was attacked, stabbed, chased, beaten, and almost killed by multiple people throughout the film. All of this is because her boyfriend and one of his brothers wanted the family’s wealth. If the person I loved and trusted put me through all of that, I wouldn’t care if he had instructed the killers to keep me alive; I would also stab him in the neck. If a guy you’re dating thinks Crispian did his best to keep Erin safe, run away immediately!

3. Revenge

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Horror fans are very familiar with the rape-revenge subgenre of horror. What makes Revenge a bit different is how the lead, Jen (Matilda Lutz), is portrayed. She isn’t the typical demure, innocent young woman typically seen in these films. She dresses provocatively, she flirts and dances with different men, and she is dating a married man. Jen is raped by the friend of her boyfriend. Then, instead of defending her, the trio of men push her off a cliff and leave her for dead. It is very satisfying to watch her take her revenge.

Unless you’re dating a complete monster, chances are they are against rape and will root for the victim seeking revenge in these types of films. Yet, because of the way Jen is portrayed, there are some men who don’t feel like she is justified in killing the men who wronged her. That’s why her character is so important, because it reinforces that what you wear or how you act doesn’t matter; no means no. If you know a guy that thinks Jen is just a slut who got what she deserved, kick him in the balls and kick him to the curb! (Full review here)

4. Midsommar

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One of the most popular horror films of the year, Midsommar takes the audience on a journey with Dani (Florence Pugh). Dani’s boyfriend, Christian (Jack Reynor), is a terrible boyfriend. He doesn’t seem to really want to be with Dani, but he stays with her out of familiarity and continually emotionally manipulates her and cheats on her. Watching how horrible he is to Dani, and to their friends, makes it all the more satisfying to watch his fate fall in Dani’s hands. The moment Dani finally smiles as Christian burns alive is quite the cathartic moment.

All of Christian’s actions in the film are for his own personal gain, including his manipulation of Dani. Even after everything she goes through with losing her entire family, he can only think of himself. It’s fine if you think Christian maybe shouldn’t have been burned alive. While I think it’s fantastic and well deserved, it can be interpreted as a bit extreme. Yet, if you’re with a guy who doesn’t see anything wrong with Christian’s treatment of Dani and their friends, definitely ghost his ass! (Full review here)

5. Black Christmas (2019)

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This newest re-imagining of Black Christmas has been engulfed in controversy. The only reason for the controversy: it has a feminist message that tells men their time is up, and they can’t get away with treating women like garbage anymore. This film depicts a group of strong, independent sorority sisters being hunted down and killed by evil frat boys. These guys are condescending, misogynistic men who are prone to violence against women. Unfortunately for them, these women fight back, and they make the frat regret coming after the sisters.

Even before the film was released, men were complaining about the message of this film. They make all sorts of claims about all the different reasons this film is going to suck when it all comes down to one thing: they can’t handle feminism and women being shown as strong enough to take down men. The film isn’t perfect, so it’s one thing for them to simply not enjoy the film. If a man doesn’t agree with the message the film sends or he thinks this message isn’t important, leave him out with the rest of the trash! (Full review here)