Are you sick of Best of the Year Lists yet? I hope not, because I've been putting mine off as long as possible. But for the best possible reason, I swear! There's no denying it has been a banner yeah for horror. In addition to being some of the highest-grossing films of the year, we saw a flood of critically acclaimed horror offerings stepping out of their midnight slots to become festival favorites. There have been so many flipping fantastic horror movies in 2016 that I've got a great list here for you even though I still haven't gotten to see Raw, Train to Busan or Demon. And I've probably missed a bunch of others. An embarrassment of riches, 2016. And since we know the greatest horror films are made during times of social upheaval, it looks like 2017 is going to produce even more riches. So, we've got that going for us. Anyway, here you go. And just to make it more difficult on myself, they're in order...
10. The Monster
This was a late addition to the list, knocking Green Room out of my top ten. Why? On the surface it's a creature feature in the most traditional & satisfying sense. I'm sure you'll be as psyched as I was to find that the monster is an actual person in a costume. That alone would almost be enough to earn the movie a spot on my list, but the heartbreakingly realistic mother-daughter relationship that is revealed through well placed flashbacks gives it an added layer of pathos that elevates it to something really special.
9. The Greasy Strangler
Bless this movie's weird little heart. I haven't seen anything this gleefully nutty in a long time. Never thought I would consider a movie filled with grease & penises to be refreshing, but here we are.
8. The ABCs of Death 2.5
Another unexpected surprise, this anthology featured more new talent than a year's worth of horror convention screenings, all trying their very hardest & all seeming to have a blast doing so. Almost every short is a winner, which is more than can be said for the previous offerings in the series.
7. The Invitation
The Invitation answers the age-old question "Could this party possibly get any worse?" Yes, my friends, it could. Great performances & expert direction put us on edge almost immediately, despite the deliberate pace & slow build. This is a great return to form for Karyn Kusama, whose last couple films were ruined by studio interference. I can't wait to see what she does next.
6. Under the Shadow
Last year we had A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, which explored the role of women in the middle east. This year we have a more straightforward but no less fascinating depiction of the same topic. Some of the special effects missed the mark, but Under the Shadow ultimately succeeds in using the supernatural to make us feel the real horrors of war & oppression.
5. I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives In the House
This movie about a Shirley Jackson-esque author has the feel of one of her books. It's quiet, understated & eerie, & while not much happens, it casts a kind of spell on you. While admittedly not suited to everyone's taste, it worked for me like wow.
Not since Hellraiser & Event Horizon have we gotten such a visceral & horrifying glimpse into hell. You wouldn't think the humor or the sing along scene would work with that, but it totally does. If you haven't seen it I'm sure that sounds ridiculous, but you're just gonna have to trust me.
If you're going to make an homage picture, you could certainly do worse than Repulsion. As uneven as Mickey Keating's other movies have been, this one feels like it popped out of his head fully-formed. Every sound, every flickering shot & every change in expression from the excellent Lauren Ashley Carter contributes to one unnerving little movie.
2. The Eyes of My Mother
One of the coolest things about horror movies in 2016 is how many great first features we saw. Six out of the ten on this very list in fact, including the top two. Nicholas Pesce came seemingly out of nowhere & dropped this gorgeous movie on us, which gives us a look at the making of a psychopath from her own point of view.
1. The Witch
What's left to say about The Witch? Praise has been heaped all over this movie like so much chopped wood falling on your dad's head. So allow me to remind you about the scene pictured here. Remember this part? How chillingly ambiguous it is about whether the boy is actually being delivered from suffering by God or is only mocking his family's piety? That's powerful stuff. What makes The Witch an instant classic is that nearly every scene in the movie is just as powerful as this one.