At this point, it’s pretty much an indisputable fact that we’re living in a new golden age of horror cinema. 2016 was incredible, 2017 was even better, and 2018 has been a horror show through and through, with exceptional on-screen nightmares to match the real-life tumult and discord dominating the airwaves worldwide. It’s no secret that horror thrives during the dark times, offering people a safe outlet to hash out their anxieties and demons on screen, and this year, we saw some of the most vital creative voices in filmmaking turn their attention to the genre, from established industry heavy-hitters to extraordinary first-time directors.
We got witches, zombies, monsters, cults and Nazis. Hell, we even got the return of Michael Myers. And it was good! (More on that later.) There were historical ruminations and internet-age fables, big-budget and independent, cheeky B-movies and unapologetic art films. Regarding themes, it was a major year for family-fueled thrills — in particular, the horrors of parenting — and an even bigger year for women’s stories. The only bad thing about horror movies in 2018 is that the year has to end eventually. With that moment upon us, I’m looking back at the best of the best in a year that seemingly had a boundless wellspring to give.
Two obvious but necessary statements to get out of the way. 1) Horror is one of the most personal genres out there — everyone’s phobias and reactions are different when such primal matters are on the line, so obviously what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. 2) Ranking movies in inherently silly, but it’s just how these things are done darling, so as always, take them with a grain of salt. I’ve been working on this list for weeks and the rankings have shifted more times than I care to admit. Of course, none of that’s the point — the point is to put a spotlight on the best and scariest horror movies I loved this year.
But first, a few honorable mentions because I had to cap the list at a certain point: Apostle, Satan’s Slaves, The Clovehitch Killer, Tumbbad, The Ritual, and that one pool scene from The Strangers: Prey at Night are welcome in my home any time. Then there’s The House That Jack Built, which deserves its own category as a film that I respect almost as much as I dislike. Now, without further ado, the best horror movies of 2018.