Best of list of movies that fall under the horror and thriller genre for 2018.
What's in this Movie List?
It's finally that time of year to finalize the best movies list for 2018. These are my top ten best horror and thriller movies 2018.
This list was intended to be a pure horror movie list. In this day and age, we have gone through a metamorphosis of sorts within the horror genre. Simply calling a spade a spade is really hard, so this year I've thrown the word 'thriller' into the ring. I did this so I could not only include a few movies I adored that was dark but not horror and also so that I don't have readers arguing whether a film should be in the list or not.
As I did last year, I am flicking out a semi-disclaimer. People love what they love and my favorites aren't necessarily your favorites. If your film of the year isn't in this list, check the honorable mentions section. If it's not there, sorry, I probably scored it below 4 stars and those movies simply didn't make the cut this year. This year was a great year for cinema. If you think otherwise, well, you simply aren't watching enough of the right films.
Number 15— Unsane
It's possible this film will be bumped in place of a film yet to drop onto streaming or VOD platforms. I'm thinking Overlord or Suspira might have the goods, but I wasn’t able to get to the cinema for those.
Unsane was a great story though and I really enjoyed it. Another example of a psychological film to enter the arena this year, this particular film is a little underappreciated in my opinion.
In a great setting for a horror movie, Amy is confined to a mental institution to escape a stalker.
The other amazing thing about this film was that it was filmed on an iPhone. It's director Steven Soderbergh has a long list of pretty decent films.
Unsane is a very watchable movie with a lot of strong components. Performances are amazing and I find myself thinking about the story from time to time.
Number 14— Searching
John Cho and Debra Messing gave me the film I was looking for while set in the modern world of social media. Social media can have both positive or negative impacts depending on how you look at it.
Where other films of this type completely miss the mark, Searching had that extra edginess. The story gave me the mystery and thrill I wanted while being absolutely riveting. The whole movie is practically viewed through a lens as David Kim searches for his missing daughter Margot. From start to finish this story was like riding a roller coaster which led to a surprise who-dunnit outcome. If you guessed who the kidnapper was, then you have one up on me.
The other film that could have quite easily made the top fifteen list was Unfriended: Dark Web. I bumped it in favor of not having two films in the same setting. It's now part of the honorable mentions section but it was still a great film. See the full review on my website by hitting the home button and I’ll walk you through the alreranate endings from the Blu-Ray release.
Number 13— A Quiet Place
Oddly, it was the latter half of this list that I tussled with the most. When it came to listing the films I had watched, I four starred a lot of movies this year. When I rate something, generally anything above 3 out of 5 or higher is memorable and something within the structure of the film stood out in some way.
A Quiet Place simply ranked for the casting, the story and the monster itself. The tension and the fact that you could've heard a pin drop in the cinema made for a unique experience. There were a few giggles too from having to stay quiet for such a long time. Eating snacks at the movies has never been as difficult as it was while watching this. Kudos to making a movie with so much silence it must've been one heck of a task while filming.
A Quiet Place's writers and directors created a pretty cool post-apocalyptic world even if the end climax was a little bit of a letdown. It's still worthy of any 'best of' list.
Number 12— Tumbbad
This film was a late entry but it's so full of beautiful imagery, delightful storytelling and wonderful performances that it definitely deserves a spot.
Tumbbad is a story about the Goddess of the universe who loved her first born the most out of all the gods. His name was Hastar and he was known as the most greedy God. So unpopular was he, that the other Gods chose to attack him. Hastar only survived because his mother saved him by letting him sleep in her womb for a long time. It was thought if people couldn't worship him he would be forgotten.
The story is narrated and set out in chapters like a book. Tumbbar is an Indian film, so for non-Indian speaking audiences, you will require subtitles. For those that love foreign titles, this is definitely a must-see. Available in the UK only at this point, keep an eye out for a wider release.
Number 11— Mom and Dad
If two fictional movie characters were ever destined to be together in a film it would be Nic Cage and Selma Blair. In scenes that many thoughts were too over the top and others complained about the flashbacks and camerawork choices, I thought this film was rather brilliant. So brilliant I waited eagerly for the next movie on Cage's agenda— Mandy.
Some may say that Mandy was their film of the year. Although brilliant, it just didn't have that enjoyment factor I was looking for. Sometimes brilliant films aren't your favorite and Mandy was the slowest burn I’ve ever seen. I rated Mom and Dad highly as a fan of virus flicks and a fan of left-of-center horror-comedy.
In Mom and Dad, it's the kids who need to survive. Their parents are trying to kill them as a deadly something-or-other sweeps the nation. I thought it was funny in a sick and twisted way. Being a January 2018 release, at the time of watching, I thought it would be my film of the year. It's not but it could have been if the rest of the years' films had tanked.
Number 10— The Endless
I found my new stalker-like passion for filmmakers, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead when I watched their previous entry Resolution (2012.) Despite finding both were 'soft' horror rather than scary, gory or genre specific horror, this film was pretty darn great.
The Endless sees two brothers receive a weird videotape. The tape suggests they need to go back to a UFO cult they grew up in. Both had widely differing experience and memories of the group they were part of and now as adults find these people are not what they seem.
Everything about this was fantastic story-wise. If you like your soft horror with a squirt of sci-fi then you will seek this out immediately. Do try and watch Resolution prior as the two are connected.
The third part for this story is said to be in the works and there is something called Synchronic listed in pre-production status on a movie platform I like. Due to the literal definition of the word, I'm taking a wild stab Synchronic might be that film. Look out for more details as I hear it on my website by hitting the home button on my profile.
Number 9— Brothers' Nest
Another thriller I had to include in my list is this amazing Australian thriller Brothers' Nest. Starring director Clayton Jacobson alongside his brother Shane with other beloved Australian cast members like Kim Gyngell and Lynette Curran. If you love a story that goes to great lengths to shock while being relatable then don't miss this one.
I knew this would be in my top ten the moment it was over. I screened Brothers' Nest as part of The Fantasia Film Festival. The story is set in a single location which is no mean feat. The two brothers show just how far they will go to protect their inheritance.
Not enough people have seen this film and they should. See the full review and interview with director Clayton Jacobson on my website by hitting the home button on my profile page here on Hubpages.
Brothers' Nest Trailer
Number 8— You Were Never Really Here
Lynne Ramsay the director and writer for You Were Never Really Here is a superstar. I'm yet to watch her other two films Morvern Caller (2002) and Ratcatcher (1999.) We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) though, is where I set the bar as the ultimate portrayal of a serial killer. I've never attempted a review of either of Ramsay's movies because I just couldn't put either of these films into words.
You Were Never Really Here has Ramsay's familiar tone and a quiet hush and tension. A movie that makes you hold your breath for almost the entire story. It also puts forth a narrative that is so brutal and yet doesn't actually show any actual brutality.
In You Were Never Really Here Joaquin Phoenix is a man suffering quite a few traumas and now he tracks missing girls for a living. In what could be the job that kills him, he stumbles upon Nina.
If you want to watch a powerful film with a lot to say while not really saying a thing, then this should be the film you see.
Number 7— The Clovehitch Killer
A thriller to be sure, I would be sad if I couldn't include this film in my top films. I pretty much added the thriller genre to what was supposed to be a top horror list just so I could add this movie and Brothers' Nest into it.
You can find my full review of The Clovehitch Killer on IMBd.com in the critics section or on my website. I even have an article attached to it for an interview I had with the director Duncan Skiles.
A story based on the BTK Killer this one is not your average serial killer movie. In lieu of graphic in your face kills, we see Dylan McDermott star as Don and get to know him through the eyes of his son, Tyler.
If you're going to watch a serial killer movie this year, give this one a go.
The Clovehitch Killer Trailer
Number 6— Halloween
A biased and adulterated spot in my 'best of' list has to belong to this movie. A solid revival and face-lift from directors and writers who shouldn't have. I rated this purely on its own volition as a slasher. Halloween 2018 should be kept at a small but tiny distance away from other cinematic efforts, nevertheless, though, I really enjoyed this. I will most definitely watch it at least a dozen times as part of marathons I regularly have with this franchise.
I thought it was a massive coop reprising the role of Laurie Strode with the original one and only Jamie Lee Curtis and I adored the speckled nods to previous films, original casting premises, fan theories and being able to bring a character like Michael Myers into a present alternate world. So what if the opening was corny and the kills were generally off-screen? I don't.
In Halloween 2018 Laurie Strode pegs what should be but probably won't be her final battle. Michael Myers is the guy who hunted her from the moment he set eyes on her. A love story of the slasher kind—does Michael love Laurie or does he really just want to kill her. Will we ever know?
Number 5— What Keeps You Alive
I find myself defending What Keeps You Alive as a high caliber film. Amongst reviewers complaints are its predictability, it's generic stamp and that it continues well past where it could have ended.
I liked it though. It had amazing cinematography and, it's an underlying portrayal of the central character through the lens of Jules. I felt the writing was strong and had just the right dose of information teased out at just the right time.
A tale from a favorite filmmaker of mine, Colin Minihan is one-half of the Vicious Brothers who also made It Stains the Sands Red and Grave Encounters. I've yet to write up my full review for this, but it's coming soon.
Number 4— Terrifier
Hello, Art the Clown. Lots of people classify Art as though he is nothing but a two-dimensional puppet. Damien Leone's character for Art, a superhuman machete-wielding clown with a heart made from dirt and dust was something I absolutely had a blast with.
Terrifier won the Fright Meter Award for Best Actor. It screened for a few years at film festivals before finally dropping in August 2018. It's now featured on Netflix.
The portrayal of a silent mime-tastic killer (played by David Howard Thornton) who allowed a fellow diner take selfies with him before later hunting the two lovely ladies down will be a cult classic in years to come.
As a slasher fan, I invoke the right to cheer and be grossed out all at the same time which is what this film ultimately had me do. Terrifier had one of the most brutal kill scenes I watched all year. It also saw me publish an article showcasing every film this guy starred in. See the full article on my website by hitting the home icon on my Hubpages profile.
Number 3— Incident in a Ghostland
For cementing itself firmly into an area which included a multifaceted storyline, surprises and, great performances. One cast member was literally scarred for life and, Ghostland was a standout film for me this year.
It was a film I was able to talk about at great length with a myriad of people over the course of a few months. After watching this film conversations saw me learn more about this story along the way.
Pascal Laugiers' previous film, not only put him on the back foot of eager fans wanting something better, more gruesome and more shocking that his widely renowned Martyrs (2008), but for me, releasing a film in English when it's not his native language shows exceptional skills. Some viewers commented on this being his downfall, however, I strongly disagree.
Ghostland follows a mother who inherits a home from her eccentric aunt and moves there with her two daughters. Soon after they begin to settle in, vicious intruders pay them a visit and the daughters fight for their lives. Strange things happen when, sixteen years later, the daughters find themselves back at the house.
See it, if you hate it, I'll send you a sticker.
Number 2— Hereditary
Another thing I enjoy is a divisive film. Hereditary was that film for many. There is a clear divide between love and hate in response to this movie and not too much in between. A time when people raised their swords in protest that this movie is not a horror film simply because they weren't afraid. I wholeheartedly place Hereditary into the jaws of the horror genre for more than one reason. Was I scared? No, but that does not mean it belongs somewhere else.
For me, it was love and I loved it for its clear portrayal of mental illness and also for its ability to wind in a king of demons deep into the story.
Almost a film akin to the viral Facebook conundrum "is this dress blue or gold?" Hereditary poised the question of whether this film was the result of mental illness or a curse passed down through the family.
Which was it for you?
The story sees Ellen, as the matriarch of the Graham family who passes away. Her daughter’s family begins to unravel terrifying secrets about their ancestry as they try to understand the circumstances of the part they play.
Number 1— Upgrade
Firstly, look, don't fight it. It simply can't be helped that this is in the top spot. Some people watch movies to be mortally wounded, some watch them trying to find something more frightening than real-life and some are me.
I watch movies for lots of reasons. Most of all if a movie ticks a couple of boxes then they are the ones I adore.
Upgrade gave me that holy crap! scene. I also had to look away from a scene I deemed awesome while also being disgusting. This film encompassed phenomenal action combined with a great fast moving story infused with horror elements.
It didn't have the depth that other superbly crafted and probably more deserving films had. It also didn't have the finely tuned performances of many other movies I watched this year (somehow, I amassed over 200 logged films according to Letterboxd.com.)
Upgrade however, was the coolest thing I watched out of them all.
If you've not heard of it, I've seen it classified as body horror and I agree. Grey Trace is left paralyzed after being brutally mugged one fine evening and he's offered a cure from a wealthy inventor. The cure is an implant from a chip called STEM. STEM gives Grey superhuman strength along with some pretty cool other skills. He then uses this to find and take revenge on those that ruined his life.
See this if you haven't. I don't know anyone who hated it outright.
Honorable Mentions In No Particular Order
- Tigers Are Not Afraid (this film is still doing the festival circuit, but I screened it for Fantasia Film Festival. Hopefully it will be released for inclusion in 2019.)
- Cannibal Club
- 14 Cameras
- Mandy (mentioned in the entry for Mom and Dad)
- Welcome to Mercy
- Await Further Instructions
- The Dark
- The Night Comes for Us
- The Cured
- The Strangers, Prey at Night
- Empathy Inc. (Another film still doing festivals and will hopefully drop for wider audiences in 2019.)
- Bird Box
- The Body (Into the Dark)
I wasn't able to get to the cinema for The House That Jack Built, Overlord or Suspira. The Little Stranger and, The Possession of Hannah Grace and Bandersnatch are still high on my watch list.
Look out for reviews on those soon and a possible jamming or one title listed here into this list.
Thanks for reading.
© 2018 Mother of Movies and Series Reviews
Mother of Movies and Series Reviews (author) from Moreton Bay, Queensland on September 15, 2019:
Yes, I’m aware of the incident. It’s a terrible thing that happened to a young actress and apparently one that could have been avoided. I’m sure that compensation and suits will sort it out. There is also a case currently about a stunt double who lost an arm in a motorbike crash recently for Resident Evil. Accidents do happen. The film, however is amazing.
derpne on September 15, 2019:
Incident in a Ghost Land will forever remain in my mind as a film that most websites fail to address properly. An absolutely horrible accident befell one of the main actresses, and the people who made the film all but committed criminal negligence in how they handled it. She now is permanently disfigured because proper procedure was ignored during a stunt.
Mother of Movies and Series Reviews (author) from Moreton Bay, Queensland on March 13, 2019:
Thanks so much Sam! I think 2018 was an amazing year for cinema. I would’ve added Overlord had I seen it prior to last week too. That film was fantastic!
Sam Shepards from Europe on March 13, 2019:
Thanks for this list, was not keeping up with films that well last year due to work. A nice selection of horror, some are the usual suspects, but there is enough here to keep my busy a couple of weeks.
I liked The House That Jack Built, Lars von Trier is hit or miss in my book. The last one is worth it again.
Mother of Movies and Series Reviews (author) from Moreton Bay, Queensland on January 01, 2019:
Thanks Umair, I appreciate that! It took quite a while to decide this year.
humair999 on January 01, 2019: