OUR TOP FIVE HORROR FILMS OF 2017
Chosen by the HCF Critics!
(and some suggestions for the worst and our guilty pleasures)
Over the Christmas period, a few of us at HCF got together over a few drinks and talked about our best and worst horror films of the year. As the drinks flowed, arguments began to surface and at the end there were tears, there was fighting and in the morning there were a few sore heads to go alongside a few regrets, but somehow we still managed to compile this feature for our readers!
Ryde – A slickly made, violent slice of taxi-driven hell, Ryde will make you second-think about getting an Uber anytime soon with its Zachary Quinto lookalike villain preying upon punters.
The Evil Within – This mini masterpiece of a surreal nightmare took billionaire Getty’s grandson 15 years to create and is a wondrous exploration of hellish nightmares. Like any dream you want to wake up from, The Evil Within sucks you in and takes you on its ghost train of horrors. A visual delight
Satanic – This little horror really gets under your skin with its interest in the occult. Eerie and downright creepy, if ever there was a lesson not to mess with things you don’t understand, this would be it
The Kaos Brief – A sci-fi found footage shocker which presents itself like a youtube vlog diary with the lead creating videos for his mass of followers. Brilliantly made and one that will make you question if there’s anything out there and, more importantly, if there was, would you want to know.
Cruel Summer – Who thought that the guy who plays Aaron in Emmerdale could portray such a nasty bastard? In Cruel Summer, viewers are given a harsh look at reality as a young man with autism is targeted by bullies. Gritty and heartbreaking, this this reflection of real-life abuse is absolutely terrifying.
Killer Pinata – How can I not love a film about a pinata on the rampage? It’s fun, colourful and hilarious, everything you could ever want from a movie boasting that impressive title
WORST HORROR OF 2017:
Dark Night – I’ve watched some crap in my time but none have taken the biscuit more than Dark Night, a film inspired by the horrific events that took the life of those at the cinema screening of The Dark Knight in Aurora, Colorado. Dressed up as some art-house type affair, it’s a waste of 85mins as the film comprises of scenes delivered with no backstory, personality or character. Avoid!
Split – M Night delivered a decent film that was heading towards a 3 star rating, before delivering a stunning out of nowhere twist that actually floored me like no other horror film has managed too this year! Perhaps beating his Sixth Sense reveal in the process! Really can’t wait for the next film in this now unexpected franchise!
Creep 2– How do you match perfection? Simple! Just do what you did before, while twisting the story further! The ending may be a little flat, but Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice have created a Michael Myers for the Social Media generation, that deserves more love from horror fans!
Savageland – Who would think that a film mostly about a reel of photos would be so damn frightening! Like last year’s Hell House LLC, the film plays with reality and delivers a stunning tale that makes you sit in your seat with an uncomfortable ease! That one photo will stay with you forever!! Yet another straight to DVD offering that will sadly be missed by the masses!
The Blackcoat’s Daughter aka February – WOW! The son of Anthony (Norman Bates) Perkins delivers a tale that you swear was made in the golden era of the 70’s. A slow burn horror that will creep under your skin and stay with you long after the credits roll! Its a near masterpiece!
Cruel Summer– The only horror film of 2017 that I hated every second of and just wanted to press stop and never watch again! Much like the fantastic Funny Games, Cruel Summer is one of the most gruelling films that you’ll ever see! You’ll be mad at what is happening and feel helpless in doing nothing……! A tragic tale that is a stunning achievement from all involved!
Honourable mentions: Better Watch Out (one of new fav festival film) Leatherface (Nowhere near as bad as some say) Never Hike Alone (This fan film alone shows why the horror genre needs a good old fashioned Jason flick)
HAPPY DEATH DAY – I just loved this Groundhog Day horror more than I should have! Fun with a very likeable lead and it done the impossible by actually got me thinking “who the killer was?” right up until the final reveal and for someone who guessed the killer/killers in most of the Scream films, that is a fantastic achievement!
WORST HORROR of 2017:
Slasher.com: My eyes! My poor poor eyes!
The Ritual – I base a great deal of my appreciation [or not] of a horror film as to whether it scared me or not. The hugely popular It failed to do so much for me despite trying very hard. On the other hand, this particular effort, which probably had no right to work anywhere nearly as well as it did, evoked a creepy feel of being lost in the woods better than any film in recent memory, and the meticulous, unsettling build up wasn’t really ruined by the rushed but quite nerve-wracking climax which even had some original looking creatures for once.
Mother! – I don’t think I actually enjoyed Mother! that much while I watched it, but it stayed with me – and stayed with me – and stayed with me, a sure sign of a notable work, and now I can’t wait to see it again. Whether you see it as being about man’s existance, the art of creation, or the male ego and the female instinct, or something else, this film confirms Darren Aronofsky as one of our most fearless autuers, completely unafraid to be divisive or confusing, and we should cherish his existence.
Get Out – Certain magazines and websites voting Get Out as the best film of the year proved to me that social/political aspects still reign far too high in the eyes of many critics, though you can’t not be impressed by an anti-racist film that sets its sights on white liberals who like to proclaim how right on they are yet still want to remain dominant over black people. And, at least its final act, it did mine a unique mixture of uneasy horror, nervous humour, and social commentary that hadn’t been seen in the genre for some time.
The Limehouse Golem – This Victorian murder tale ticked all the boxes for me: great period feel, intriguing detective hero, good mystery, clever storytelling [what a twist!], a bit of social commentary, some great directorial touches like the suspects seen as doing the killings, some twists on hackneyed devices like the race against time to save the heroine from hanging which did definitely not pan out as expected, plus plenty of gore in what was in part a slasher. And yet it’s been rather neglected, but then times are hard.
A Cure For Wellness – No doubt me placing this criminally neglected film higher than Get Out will cause gasps from readers wondering if I’ve totally lost my marbles, though seasoned viewers will have learnt to expect the unexpected from me. But up until the final act, Gore Verbinski’s beautiful Euro-Gothic nightmare of a film, crammed with artistic and meaningful shots, and never wasting its lengthy running time, unsettled me like few other films had done so for a while, as well as evoking all sorts of questions about society and what it means to live well.
IT– I wouldn’t call 2018 a vintage year for ‘guilty pleasure’ films, movies which you know aren’t that good but which you cannot help but enjoy, so I guess I’m going to have to with It. I honestly don’t think It was that great [sorry], being little more than a series of CG-heavy scare sequences, except that it failed to actually scare me, but it was fun, it was exciting, it was often funny without turning into a comedy, and the kids were terrific with fine chemistry
WORST HORROR OF 2017
WISH UPON– A film so ineptly put together that the colour correction changes several times, this consisted of little more than a series of quick cuts barely piecing together the story, along with a thoroughly dumb heroine who continued making wishes even though people are dying. But then this was a film that asked us to believe, for example, that a box has sat in a bin on the street untouched for ten or more years, in an area where her father scavenges the same bins several times a week. Insulting, pathetic dreck.
It -horrors most lucrative effort at the box office is a worthy if not remarkable remake of the 1980’s cult TV movie.
The Blade of the Immortal -Not technically a horror film but uses up more of the red stuff than the entire Babycart series put together
Gerald’s Game -think twice before kinky, bed gymnastics with a dodgy ticker. Stephen King proves he is still keep you checking nothing unholy has crawled underneath your bed.
Get Out -clever, twisted and highly entertaining
They come at Night -truly unsettled me more than any other film this year. Leaves the bulk of the fear to your imagination.
David Smith’s List
Annabelle Creation -I really didn’t expect this to make my top 20 let alone top 5 – but sometimes I’m happy to be wrong. The prequel to the prequel to The Conjuring and the best in the universe aka franchise. Slowly builds the tension in act one for a relentless ghost train in two and three. Really creepy set pieces, a tense atmosphere and outstanding turns from the two child stars.
Tragedy Girls -Hilarious and bloody – a perfect blend of horror and comedy that excels in both areas. Think of Heathers’ more punky sister. Yet beneath the cartoon violence and nihilism, there’s something touching about our leads’ bond and something sad about their need for validation. This is driven by two of the most watchable central performances of the year and a super stylish aesthetic.
Elle- I was in two minds about including this. Not because it isn’t a great film, as its fantastic, but because I wasn’t sure whether or not I could call it horror. However, with the black comedy about trauma giving way to the most disturbing celluloid relationship of the year, I thought I couldn’t not. Dark, emotionally challenging viewing with an unforgettable protagonist. The best I’ve seen from Paul Verhoeven.
Raw-A dramatic and haunting black comedy horror. A powerful coming of age, with a mature look at sibling dynamics, mixed with great special effects and an epic soundtrack. At first I liked it but didn’t love it, though in the days that follow it gave me a lot to think about. Not as gory, nor gratuitous, as some have suggested, but all the better for it. And with its smart loom at eating disorders, and parallels with rape culture its the only cannibal film likely to make you empathise and sympathise with the cannibal.
Gerald’s Game-A film it took days to shake off. Very powerful horror, with stunning central performances, that goes from one of the ugliest scenes of gore I’ve ever seen to one of the most emotional endings. What makes Flanagan’s achievement is even more astounding is how much he does with a single setting and how well he masters such difficult source material and subject matter. Not only is this my pick for the year, it’s also maybe among my top ten of all time.
Honourable mentions: Get Out (laugh out loud with solid commentary) Better Watch Out (seasonal classic with a mean twist) It Comes At Night (masterful tension in an understated paranoid thriller) Cult of Chucky (Chucky returns in one of his best, most sadistic offerings yet) Leatherface (fuck you – I liked it. A thrilling, ugly road trip).
Jigsaw -the latest entry in the biggest horror soap opera is as twisty as the series has ever been. Look, Jigsaw is never going convert anyone this late on, but for fans that dug the labyrinth lore of the original series this is a more than worth follow up. Shamelessly implausible traps, silly turns and more WTF moments than most franchises manage let alone individual movies. Way more entertaining than any part 8 has the right to be.
WORST HORROR of 2017
Rings – Samara in the viral age is a premise with great potential, that gets completely botched in the most idealess movie of the year. It’s not all terrible, with a couple of effective scenes including the air bound opener. But beyond the first twenty minutes it’s yet another rural mystery as our heroes discover a town with a dark secret.
And that is it readers, for another year, which leaves us all to say one thing……
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL AND THANKS FOR READING!