short films

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

XX

XX-poster-final

XX is a unique horror anthology in that not only stars women, but all of the shorts are also written and directed by women. Since women writing and directing in the horror genre tend to be few and far between, it is refreshing that these talented females collaborated to create this film. The anthology starts with what could be called an overarching story, but really it is simply a bizarre string of stop motion images to set the eerie tone for what’s to come. While there didn’t seem to be much of a purpose to the stop motion animation other than to act as a visual intermission between segments, it was still quite beautiful in a disturbing way. In order to properly review the rest of the film I will divide by each segment in order of how they were shown.

The Box: This segment was written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic. Her work has primarily been in short films up to this point, and you can see from this segment that it is something she does very well. The Box is about a boy who looks into a gift box belonging to a man on the subway. From that moment on he completely loses any desire to eat for no apparent reason. The rest of the film focuses on the mother, played by Natalie Brown (The Strain, Channel Zero), as she watches her family wither away into nothingness. The makeup and practical effects used to make the son look like he’s starving to death are disturbingly realistic. This short is a slow burn into darkness that is atmospheric and somewhat melancholy. It is a beautifully done short that is also well acted, but I found myself wanting just a little more from the ending.

The Birthday Party: A woman finds her husband dead the morning of her daughter’s big birthday party. Trying not to ruin the celebration, the woman does what she can to keep the body out of sight. This short is written and directed by Annie Clark (also known as St. Vincent). While Clark is known for her music, this is her first attempt at writing and directing a short film. One of my favorite things about this short is the twisted sense of humor about it. Additionally, it had a strange, brightly-colored mid-century modern look to it that reminded me a bit of Edward Scissorhands. I also thought Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness, Up in the Air) was hilarious and relatable as the mother, Mary. This is probably the most visually stunning of the shorts in this anthology, and the most fun.

Don’t Fall: Of all the shorts in XX, Don’t Fall feels the most like a classic horror film. Written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound), this short follows a group of friends going on a hiking and camping trip in the desert. After the four friends find ancient cave paintings, one of the friends becomes possessed by a creature that was depicted in those paintings. This is by far the most frightening of the shorts, as well as the most action-packed. There are some excellent shots set up in such a way that the possessed girl appears to be doing things that should be impossible. It is easy to see how the filmmakers achieved these scenes, but it doesn’t take away from the visual impact.

Her Only Living Son: This short is written and directed by Karyn Kusama (The Invitation, Jennifer’s Body) who is probably the most well known of these four women due to her previous work in horror. The story follows a mother preparing for her only son’s eighteenth birthday. In the days leading up to this we learn that her son has some sociopathic tendencies that get worse as his birthday approaches. The main aspect of this short that I really enjoyed was the sense of impending doom. Also, one could easily look at the story as an unofficial sequel to Rosemary’s Baby (and perhaps that was the intent). I thought Christina Kirk (Love is Strange, Taking Woodstock) performed the role of Cora, the mother, quite well. Despite this I still didn’t love the character. She is a bit too meek throughout most of the film and can’t muster the strength to control her son’s dangerous actions.

The aptly named XX (so named because the XX chromosomes determine female sex) is a celebration of women creating bewitching works of horror. These shorts result in a highly entertaining anthology focusing on different areas of horror. While each of them are marvelous in their own way, I would have to say my favorite segment of XX is The Birthday Party. It is quite fitting this anthology would be released during the eighth annual Women in Horror month. By watching this film you are lending your support to women who want to make a name for themselves in the horror industry by working behind the camera rather than in front of it. This is a trend I hope to see more of in the future.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10