In a bizarre year filled with disastrous hurricanes, political woes, and heartbreaking celebrity and musician deaths, 2017 did manage to contain a handful of positives: the several horror masterpieces released to audiences this year. Horror movie (and television) makers did not disappoint, as 2017 released some of the most successful and equally intriguing works for the genre. Because I only started Horrormonal two months ago, I didn’t exactly have a chance to watch and review all of the many horror gems that came out this year, but I have compiled a list of my personal favorites that I did see and love, as well as a short list of the works that I wish I had seen, and will hopefully get to watch, enjoy, and review on here in 2018. Feel free to let me know what your personal favorites from 2017 were as well in the comments!
1. Get Out (Universal)
Back in October 2016 when Get Out‘s trailer was released online for the first time, I knew I was going to love this movie. Absolutely one of the best, (if not the very best, in my opinion) horror movies of 2017, first-time director Jordan Peele relays the story of a nervous young black man going to meet his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time, and the atmosphere feels suspiciously dangerous upon his arrival. With brilliant performances from Daniel Kuluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, and Catherine Keener, Get Out manages to blend all the things I love about some of my favorite horror works: suspense, satire, intelligence, social commentary, and humor. Get Out reminds me a lot of Scream mixed with a little The Stepford Wives, plus a little Rosemary’s Baby: a truly scary story with eerie characters that represent societal extremes, all while making the audience laugh along with its dark humor. The best part about Get Out is that there are a plethora of little details and “Easter eggs” that you may not have caught during the initial viewing, so it makes your second, third, (and fourth) viewing extra enjoyable. Get Out is the horror film many of us have been longing for.
2. mother! (Paramount Pictures) & (Protozoa Pictures)
The lesson that Darren Aronofsky’s mother! taught me this year was to never go by Rotten Tomatoes site’s “Audience score” when deciding whether or not to see certain films- audiences are straight up dumb and lazy, especially American audiences, and want everything spoon-fed to them. Don’t expect anything to be fed to you on a silver spoon with the artistic mother!. This whirlwind of a film may have been marketed as a horror/suspense film, which it kinda was/kinda wasn’t, so perhaps that is why some audiences bashed it so unfairly, but if you possess half a brain, don’t listen to these people. Yes, mother! is one huge allegory for religion, feminism, mother earth, and other social commentaries- and some extreme scenes can be hard to stomach- but rest assured, this is a beautiful film with an exceptional performance from Jennifer Lawrence, as a young wife who feels neglected by her husband, as he keeps allowing uninvited guests into their quiet home. If you don’t understand some of the psychological allegories upon first watching, read some of the reviews and explanations for this movie afterwards, and I guarantee you will at least earn an appreciation for it.
3. American Horror Story: Cult (FX)
Taking place just after the nightmarish 2016 presidential election, this seventh season of American Horror Story tells the story of a small Michigan town that is being torn apart by a ruthless cult leader that uses fear as a weapon for power. With an iconic performance from Evan Peters as Kai Anderson (and Andy Warhol, Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, David Koresh, and Jesus Christ, mind you), Cult may be too much for some to handle, as it tackled so many triggering, current, real life terrors, but overall, it’s an extremely engrossing story with complex characters, clowns, satire, shocking twists and turns, important themes relating to politics/cults/fear-mongering/feminism, and…awesome death scenes. Check out my full review of the Cult season here, and if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it in its entirety on FXNOW.com.
4. It (Warner Bros. Pictures)
So, although everyone and their mother adored this movie when it was released this fall, I definitely enjoyed it, but I didn’t like everything about it. I put this on my best of 2017 list moreso because this movie helped catapult the horror genre this year, as this long-awaited Stephen King adaptation made almost $700 million dollars at the box-office (holy shit). Yes, this film is of very good quality: the cinematography is gorgeous, Bill Skarsgard does Pennywise justice, the kids in the cast are worth rooting for, and it balances a dark, yet heartwarming tone…but It has its share of corny moments, overuse of CGI, plot changes, and other flaws that let me down a bit. However, It is absolutely worth watching, and I’m looking forward to the sequel. Definitely deserves a spot on a best of 2017 horror list, in spite of its flaws.
5. The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Paris Film/Traveling Picture Show Company/Unbroken Pictures/Zed Filmworks) (A24)
Relying on dark and moody atmosphere, as well as the lure of satanic forces that lurk within the halls of a private school, The Blackcoat’s Daughter cuts back and forth between two different story lines: 1) two teenage girls named Katherine and Rose, who are left behind at their boarding/private school while everyone else has left for break, and 2) a young woman named Joan, who seems to have recently escaped from an insane asylum. In what seems to be a plot device that we have seen over and over again, one of the characters becomes increasingly possessed by a demonic force, causing her to do horrible things, but in Blackcoat’s case, character vulnerability and intended sympathy creates a haunting story of characters that you truly do feel sorry for. The film suffers at times with its pace, especially during critical dialogue moments between a few of the more socially-awkward characters, who seem to struggle with basic conversational skills (you just want to scream, “JUST SPIT IT OUT!” at the TV screen), however, as the two stories unfold (and eventually combine) everything begins to make sense, creating a not-so-twist ending- as you begin to figure out what’s really going on three-quarters of the way through- but a very compelling ending nonetheless.
6. The Devil’s Candy (IFC Midnight)
This modern horror- dare I say- masterpiece tells the story of a young, struggling couple and their daughter who move into a new house that may contain a dark past and satanic entities within its walls. On the surface, it’s a haunted house story that has been told a thousand times before, but what makes the The Devil’s Candy so special is that you absolutely fall in love with this family. The dad and teenage daughter are crazy metalheads who bang their heads to Metallica in car rides, while the wife/mom is as cool and supportive of a mom that anyone can hope for during trying circumstances. I found myself audibly crying out, “Noooo!” whenever something horrific happened to any of the family members, making this an effective character-rich horror film. This movie is also as equally dark as it is light-hearted. Candy serves as a love letter for metalheads who love the horror genre (i.e. me), but anyone and everyone who watches will find themselves rooting for this family to come out of this house alive. Well worth the Netflix stream.
7. Split (Universal)
I went back and forth with myself on whether or not M. Night Shyamalan’s Split deserved a spot on my favorites of this year, but I decided it deserves a recommendation, at the very least. In what is arguably one of Shyamalan’s better works within the last several years, Split is an otherwise familiar kidnapping thriller that manages to be amplified times ten, as our villain (James McAvoy) possesses dissociative identity disorder, in which he has 23 different personalities that can change at any given moment. In true Shyamalan style, Split isn’t so much a horror film per se, but it is a psychological thriller, which contains the usual twist ending that directly links to another past film of his. McAvoy’s outstanding performance strongly drives this thriller, as we watch him impeccably transform into any of his given personalities like a light switch, from scene to scene. Shyamalan also once again shows love to my home- the Philadelphia-area- as Split mainly takes place in one famous Philadelphia location that was not fully revealed to the very end (and which I admittedly did not see coming.) This isn’t the top of the list for me in terms of best of the year, but it is certainly a decent contender.
As promised, here are a few of the critically-acclaimed 2017 works I wish I had seen before the year ends (I will eventually get to see them, I promise):
- It Comes at Night (A24) After watching Joel Edgerton star in (and write, produce, and direct) one of my favorites of 2015, The Gift, I so badly wanted to check out his most recent lead role in It Comes at Night. The film is said to be centered on two families that form an alliance during a post-apocalyptic world, only to realize they should really be fearing things inside their inner circle, instead of the things that lurk outside their doors. I’ve read that this critically-praised thriller heavily relies on both atmosphere and relationships between characters, making it a worthy watch.
- Creep 2 (The Orchard) If you’re searching for a fun, quickie horror ride that involves an innocent man alone in the woods with a seemingly manic psychopath, Creep is the watch for you. With a similar plot, its sequel is apparently also about a videographer who accepts a job offer to film a man that claims to be a fascinating serial killer, before she quickly realizes that no shocking piece of art is worth being alone with this guy for. I had a blast watching the original, so I’m hoping its predecessor follows suit.
- Annabelle: Creation (Warner Bros.) I was just as shocked as you were to hear that this prequel to the The Conjuring spinoff’s lackluster Annabelle was getting decent reviews when it was released this last summer. With critics describing it as “scarier” and “more effective” than the original, Annabelle: Creation is apparently a vast improvement, proving that no matter what the circumstances, possessed dolls with ill intentions that are loosely based on true stories (!!) will never not be scary in horror movies. As someone who told their mother to return the beautiful porcelain doll that she bought me because I didn’t want it “looking” at me as a child, I’m sure Creation will only add to my phobia of friggen dolls.
- A Cure for Wellness (20th Century Fox) Now, I have read mixed things about this stylish “trapped-in-a-place-I-don’t-belong” thriller: some saying it’s too predictable, while others calling it a “smart thriller for dumb people” (TheVerge.com), I still would like to eventually check out this puzzle of a place, where the characters are taken to for a cure of a illness that I’m probably going to guess they don’t actually have in the first place. Are they being experimented on? Are they victims of a Nazi-like cult that is killing them off one-by-one? Who knows, but I am a little curious.
- Stranger Things (season 2) (Netflix) I haven’t gotten around to watching the second season of this beloved Netflix original, but from what I hear, I’m missing out. Stranger Things has already been renewed for at least two more seasons, and for good reason: its current critics score on Rotten Tomatoes holds an impressive 94%. I’m looking forward to finding out exactly how much little Will has changed ever since returning home from the Upside Down, as well as meeting the new characters that have been apparently introduced in this most recent season.
I’m ecstatic that there is SO much quality horror content coming out in recent years that I am actually struggling to keep up with seeing all of it- horror is often considered the redheaded stepchild of cinematic genres, and finally more people are taking it seriously from the help of all the good stuff that has come out recently. Please let me know some things that I may have missed from 2017, as well as what you’re looking forward to for 2018 (blog post will be up on that in a few weeks, by the way). And thanks to those who have been following Horromonal for the last two months, and as we reach into 2018. Cannot WAIT to watch and discuss and write about all the good horror that is supposedly coming out next year.