2017 was a great year for Horror - a retrospective
2017 was an incredible year for horror. With the event of the highest grossing horror film of all time (the "It" remake at around $700 million), the horror genre is clearly on the up and up. Last year was not only a fiscal success, but the quality of films has only risen to new artistic heights with films like It Comes at Night, Raw, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. But there were some that undoubtedly failed, too. Though the winner was clear, 2017 offered enough of every type of scare to satisfy near every type of horror fan. And a few to leave some horror fans scratching their heads.
Though I may be incredibly biased against Ridley Scott, I truly thought this film represented the worst of horror in 2017. Sure, it holds the lofty Alien title above it, and it did have one pretty good horror-ish scene to it, but it still manages to take everything that Prometheus did sort of well and throw it in the bin.
This film isn’t awful. That is the best compliment I can muster. Maybe diehard fans loved it, and maybe I am just a Grinch, but I thought this film was about as stupid and dull as any in the Saw franchise (barring the first). Tobin Bell is still pretty great, but his minor presence alone isn’t enough to make a poorly thought out film work. My only hope going into 2018 is that this franchise’s life isn’t torturously dragged out unfairly, like so many of Jigsaw’s victims.
While the phrase “Lovecraftian cult attempts to summon the alien from The Thing” may hold a ton of promise, The Void utterly failed to cash in on this ludicrously stacked premise. It had all the elements there to make it a classic film, it even bolstered a ton of practical body horror effects, yet it felt the need to mask them in tons of flickering shadow and obscured camerawork. I truly envy people who can love this film, because when I think of all it could have been, it breaks my heart.
A Cure for Wellness
This film was predictable, but very nice to look at. A Cure for Wellness is one of those films that is pretty enough keep a viewer engaged for around an hour, even with a sub-par plot. But this film ran for two and a half hours. The main character was insufferable, and the creep-factor was not even present as everything in it you have seen time and time again. Definitely watchable, unlike some this year, but not great for repeat viewings.
The Girl with All the Gifts
It is amazing to think that nearly 50 years after what we consider now to be the modern zombie, the zombie genre has mostly run its course (with a notable exception being Train to Busan). However this film makes a valiant attempt to revitalize the genre through character-driven post-apocalyptic drama.
Cult of Chucky
Although have never seen a Chucky film prior to this, I was stunned that a movie this far into a franchise still had so much life left in it. There really didn't seem to be much needed as far as backstory goes as far as I could tell, and while not masterfully comedic this film did manage to elicit a number of guffaws from yours truly. Cult of Chucky is a good movie to switch off to, even if you are unfamiliar with the series.
While not the best holiday movie in recent memory (Krampus takes the cake on that one) this film managed to successfully walk the line between Christmas silliness and sinister psychopathy. While it did lose steam by the end, and the twists and turns weren’t overly twisty or turny, it does make for an entertaining holiday helping if you are tired of Krampus already.
While it wasn't entirely ‘my thing’, I can fully understand why some people love this film. Darkly funny and expertly shot, this movie truly exemplifies what I imagine it to feel like to have a felonious fetus fostered inside me.
What a remarkable surprise, M. Night Shyamalan is back at it (with ‘it’ being not woefully garbage films). While the concept itself seems quite far-fetched and gets further-fetched until after the end, it is pulled off with a skill that only a truly talented director could muster. Interestingly shot and brilliantly acted (special kudos to James McAvoy), Shyamalan manages to take a slightly interesting idea and iterate on it until it becomes a ride to see just how far it will go.
On first viewing this film is incredible. Boasting a diverse look and feel it is a joy to behold as it skips from one engaging story to the next. Yet upon revisiting it I found it to be lacking in substance, with only one short being gripping enough in a classic horror sense (Don’t Fall). Yet I still highly recommend a single watch at least (especially if you are a fan of St. Vincent).
Easily the most engaging of the passengers on the recent Stephen King hype train, It revamps the 1990 miniseries adaption of the 1986 Stephen King horror novel. Though I personally didn't think it was all too frightening – there were perhaps a few jump-scares too many – the movie itself was a joy. Each of the kids did a marvelous job, and Pennywise the clown, with much love to Tim Curry, has never been scarier (when he isn’t sprinting at the camera with a startling sound, that is).
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Killing of a Sacred Deer is easily the most striking movie on this list. More experimental than most, yet somehow it manages to corral all of the odd and uncomfortable stylistic elements at its disposal into a building dread and sense of the uncanny that I haven’t felt since The Shining.
The Devil’s Candy
While perhaps not a technically better film than The Killing of a Sacred Deer, this film is what I think will be looked back on as classic b-grade horror. With flawed yet believable characters and choices and a slow burning malevolence, The Devil’s Candy certainly succeeds at bringing a raw terror and uneasiness which has been lacking in the genre through recent years.
A Dark Song
Being a low-key and slow paced film, A Dark Song certainly isn’t for everybody. However if a brooding character-driven horror movie centering around an occult summoning by two opposing main character sounds good to you then this movie is a brilliant and underrated gem in this year of horror brilliance.
Raw boasts what I consider to be the most stunning visuals in a film from 2017. Though not for the squeamish, Raw lives in a happy middle ground between a type of visual splendour as presented in Suspiria and a classic cannibal gross-out affair. It is a horror film with a tremendous sense of humour and style to spare, though maybe don't go in on a full stomach.
It Comes at Night
While many may say that this movie doesn't fully fall into the realm of horror, it truly did scare the pants off me. It does lack many elements that are essential to so many modern horror films, but if you can find a more tense film from 2017 I’d like to hear it. This film gave me a headache watching it in the theatre simply due to the stress that my whole body was undergoing. That being said, it is essential to watch this movie in the darkest room you can find. Oh, and it is dang beautiful too.
In any other year this would have been barely a contest. However, while other films may look better stylistically, this one was just an all round tour de force (I have always wanted to say that.) On the off chance that you haven’t seen this, just watch it; it is the perfect length and remains engrossing throughout. In a year with so much choice that there is a film for everybody, this is truly a film for everybody. Heck, my mother enjoyed this film.