‘You might not think it from the near complete lack of love from the Academy over the decades, but horror movies have always been home to some of the most exciting and gutsy performances in film. Sure, the nymphettes and dudebros of 80s slashers weren’t often throwing down the gauntlet of cinematic acting, but From the days of Hammer Horror and Universal Monsters, through the bracing nightmares of the 1970s, and so on, horror has always been a home to demanding, thrilling roles for performers. Just look at last year — Gary Oldman took home the Best Actor gold, but I daresay Bill Skarsgard‘s work as Pennywise was just as transformative (and no less aided by makeup). Which is all to say: Give. Horror. Actors. Their. Due. Credit.
With that in mind, I’m looking back at the best horror movie performances of 2018, from the blockbuster hits to the art house indies. And, miracle of all miracles, some of these performances actually have an honest shot at awards consideration this year (Toni Collette has already racked up a Gotham win and a number of nominations, though apparently the HFPA was asleep at the wheel with the Golden Globe noms.)
There are all kinds of delights in the mix this year — dark and dreary roles, physically demanding work, heartfelt, comedic; you name it, horror brought it to the table in 2018. It was also a standout year for the ladies of the genre, particularly for stories dealing with themes of motherhood. For the purposes of this list, I’m keeping the focus to film work, but it wouldn’t be right to talk about the best horror performances of the year without singling out the entire casts of The Haunting of Hill House and The Terror, two extraordinary showcases for performance. Now, without further ado, let’s dig in to the best and boldest horror movie performances of the year!