It’s almost Halloween, didn’t you know? So let’s catch up on the scariest films so far this year
Weird, wanting to be scared, isn’t it? Why would anybody actually want to be scared? What a weird feeling. Like, it’s completely understandable wanting to laugh - laughing is fun - so stick on a nice comedy film. But watching a horror movie, well, that’s not going to make you laugh, is it? It’s going to make you all worried and tense and on edge and sweaty and just absolutely not having a very nice time of it.
Thing is, in our humble “o”, that is fun. And it seems we’re not alone, seeing as how big business horror is at the moment. It’s always been trundling along, enjoying its peaks and not caring about its troughs, but 2018 is thankfully seeing a nice little influx of genre fare - it’s all very exciting.
But what about all the stuff that’s already come out? Surely you’re gonna want to chomp down on all that first? If that’s the case (it is, it is the case, it’s almost Halloween for flip’s sake), then here are the best horror flicks to have already hit our screens this year - get stuck in:
A Quiet Place
Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt
Running time: 1hr 31min
People making noise during horror films is absolute unforgivable. So much rides on the atmospheric, silent moments that any goddamn crunching or rustling completely ruins the moment. So if you saw A Quiet Place - the world’s most silent movie - in a cinema, then gutted, absolutely gutted, because it was ruined. A great movie, that is entirely based on how bloody quiet it is, not one to be ruined by some oblivious fool sat behind you, shoveling mounds of popcorn into their mouth.
But hey, watch it on your own, at home, in silence and it’s absolutely great. Because what a premise: Get killed if you make any noise. It’s as simple as that and if that isn’t one of the greatest basic concepts for a horror movie we don’t know what it is.
Cast: Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Gabriel Byrne
Running time: 2hr 7mins
Floating headless corpses? Dark magic? Mental illness that leads to a harrowing family breakdown? Yep, this is what you get – and more – from Hereditary, written and directed by US filmmaker Ari Aster.
This surreal film about a family haunted by the death of their secretive Gran is a real topsy-turvy ride, and fans of the proverbial ‘yuck’ should bring a sick bag - it sneakily contains one of the most gratuitous moments you’re likely to see this side of Love Island.
Also, watch out for 15-year-old Milly Shapiro, the unsettling star of the film. She’s got a long, terrifying future in front of her.
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac
Running time: 1hr 55mins
There are a great number of very scary things in this world, and one of them, as we are all aware, is a giant bear that has a skinless skull for a head and screams like a human being. Never seen one? Well, they absolutely exist, and they will absolutely wet you, if Annihilation has anything to say about it.
Maybe not a straight-up les horreur, this sci-fi movie still contains a nice, heavy handful of trauma to go with your dinner. Mutant crocodiles? Skull bears? Wall-vine-heads? You better believe this is going to shit you up the big guns, buddy.
It’s also “critically acclaimed”, whatever the hell that means.
Available to stream on Netflix
Mom and Dad
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair
Running time: 1hr 23mins
Imagine if one day, your parents decided that instead of say, sitting down to watch a movie with you, they instead wanted to brutally murder you with a chainsaw? That would be bad, wouldn’t it? Well, that’s what happens in Mom and Dad, complete with an absolutely unhinged Nic Cage putting in his most deranged performance in years.
Oddly funny, scary and absolute nonsense. A real, unabridged steam-train of utter nonsense, this film is. Glorious, must-see, berserker nonsense.
Cast: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer
Running time: 1hr 45mins
Rating: MATURE, whatever that means. (It’s a 15, basically)
Movies about Ouija boards are absolutely nothing new, and as such, nor is this Spanish Netflix horror film. Its plot is entirely rote: a girl mucks about with a Ouija board and then things go massively wrong. Thankfully, however, it’s from director Paco Plaza, who directed REC, which means the scares are laid on Nutella thick. So, nothing entirely groundbreaking in terms of plot, but, boy, oh boy, it is still scary. And isn’t that the single thing we want from a horror film?
Also, it’s based on a true story in the way that Texas Chainsaw Massacre is based on a true story. I.e. not, but don’t let that stop you Googling it all afterwards.
Available on Netflix
Cast: Johnny Galecki, Anna Friel, Anjelica Huston
Running time: 1hr 21mins
If you could completely rid your entire body of toxins and sin to start again from scratch, would you? Even if that meant puking up a weird slime monster? That’s the very important question that The Cleanse asks, as a down-on-his-luck bloke (played by Johnny Galecki from The Big Bang Theory - don’t let that put you off) decides to attend an oddball retreat to begin afresh. Only once he gets there, things take a gooey turn.
For the majority of its running time, The Cleanse doesn’t precisely act much like a horror film, but as it creeps inexorably on, you’ll feel those neck hairs start to argue with one another, and once the haunting final frame arrives, you’ll be absolutely clear what you just saw was ‘horrifying’.
Funny though, too. Lots of silly, farty sounds up in this.
Cast: Andy Nyman, Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse
Running time: 1hr 38mins
The original Ghost Stories stage play is utterly terrifying - it could simply be down to how deafening it was, but it made us shout at the absolute upper echelons of our poor voice-boxes. Screeching like air-raid sirens we were. The scares may not be quite as visceral in the film adaptation but this is still a very good, spooky time time in a dark room if you’re into that sort of thing.
Once, portmanteau horror film were all the rage - flicks like Creepshow, Tales From The Crypt and Trilogy of Terror would spin three or four creepy stories into one full-length film. Thankfully, there’s been a welcome resurgence of late, with this UK effort being one of the better ones - as always, some segments are better than others, but overall it’s a fun old fest.
Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens
Running time: 1hr 48mins
Rating: Finally, a fucking 18
All revenge films are good, bar none, there are only: good ones, really good ones and ones that’ll whip your boxers round your head and catapult you head-first into the sun. Thankfully, this feminist revision of the rape/revenge tale is towards the latter, sun-end of the scale.
If you like seeing wronged-women turning the tables on their attackers in extremely bloody ways, then yep, this one is for you. We may have a new badass, feminist idol on our hands, here, everybody.
Cast: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Callie Hernandez
Running time: 1hr 41mins
Horror movies about doomsday cults are what great horror is made of. Red State, The Wicker Man, Kill List, the ‘Safe Haven’ segment of V/H/S/2 - it’s a very ripe subject from which to mine the scares. And this one is no different - two brothers revisit the cult they escaped from ten years earlier, only to discover that maybe everyone wasn’t so deluded after all…
Slow-burning horror can often be something of a drag but the drip-drip of weirdness that this one feeds you is perfect so that when it eventually all hits the cataclysmic fan you’re fully wound up to feverish levels. What the filmmakers (who made the highly recommended Spring) have done here with such a low-budget is astonishing - a real brain-puncher.
Cast: Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, Pilou Asbaek
Running time: 1hr 50mins
Rating: 18 (YAY!)
Half Saving Private Ryan, half Big Stupid Nazi Monsters Being Sexually Predatory, Overlord is one of those films that is both the best it could ever be and really hard to recommend to people you don’t know that well in case they think you’re peculiar. Executive produced by J.J. Abrams (and at one point rumoured to be part of the Cloverfield mythos), it’s the absurdly violent tale of an American battalion in World War Two who stumble upon some secret monstrous Nazi experiments and find themselves fighting not only Nazis and monsters, but Nazi monsters.
Game Of Thrones’ Pilous Asbaek plays one of the most grotesque villains in cinema history, a sleazy, grinning supersoldier missing half his face, while Wyatt Russell channels his dad Kurt more than ever before, and newcomer Jovan Adepo makes an awesomely terrified reluctant hero. A high-budget B-movie with a lot of really satisfying Nazi deaths, it’s the only film you’ll see this year where you’ll be slightly disappointed that, in the bit where an undead Nazi monster is trying to impale someone on a shard of his shattered ulna, he doesn’t quite manage it.
In cinemas November 7
Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson
Running time: 1hr 40mins
Maybe not a straight horror flick, this one, but it’s certainly horrifying enough in places. Part sci-fi, part revenge flick, this relentless movie sees a paraplegic fitted with a state-of-the-art microchip that enables him to walk again, but also talks to him and helps him track down his wife’s killers, turning him into an unstoppable killing machine in the process. It’s essentially Venom, but good (even down to Tom Hardy lookalike Logan Marshall-Green in the main role).
It’s directed by noted horror-dude Leigh Whannell (writer and star of Saw), and it’s difficult to see how he’ll ever beat it - this is top-drawer stuff. Ultra-violent, ultra-cool and ultra-bloody-amazing. You’ll want to watch it again the very second it finishes.
Available for pre-order on Sky Store
Summer of 84
Cast: Rich Sommer, Graham Verchere, Judah Lewis Judah Lewis, Caleb Emery Caleb Emery
Running time: 1hr 45mins
Stranger Things has had quite the effect on the horror community, and with such a runaway success, the inevitable imitators follow. However, just like IT before it, Summer of 84 is one of the good ones. In fact, the influences are so strong in this one (Rear Window, The Monster Squad, The Goonies, Fright Night), it’s such a surprise that it emerges as its own beast - a retro horror mystery which lulls you into such a sense of light-hearted, family-friendly security - that come the horrendous finale, you’re well-and-truly sucked right the hell in.
Kids suspecting their neighbour is a bad, bad man is nothing new, but when it’s done this well, it doesn’t really matter.
Also, the soundtrack bangs, mate.