We’re over halfway through the year - it’s time to catch up on the scariest films
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 - we’ve got a hell of a lot of terrifying goodness coming our way in the second half of this year - 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), 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.
In cinemas now
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: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali
Running time: 1hr 30mins
Woods are scary. Going into them is scary. Finding weird huts in them is scary. Getting murdered by an all manner of incomprehensibly terrifying hell-fuel is, we posit, scary. Which is why The Ritual is scary, because it is about all of those things.
Sure, there’s been a million horror movies about people going into the woods and meeting weird things (it’s cheap to shoot, obviously), but this one somehow manages to wring something fresh out of the tired formula. Case-in-point: you know when you’re watching a horror film, and you get to the big reveal at the end, and 97% of the time it’s a crushing, film-ruining disappointment? Well, the end of this is the absolute opposite of that. It’s something you’ve never seen before, and it blew our little socks off. Top stuff.
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.
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.
Available: Nowhere, just yet - look for an October release over here
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.