You didn’t think the 2018 review posts were over did you? Maybe everywhere else on this world wide web we’re all tangled up in, but not here! I was shocked to look back at my posts this year to see that I didn’t do a single Halloween Scene post which means I didn’t write about horror AT ALL in 2018. That’s ridonculous. So, I’m making up for that here with a list of 10 newer horror flicks I dug last year.
I’m going to kick off with a pair of throwback movies. First up, let’s talk about Bedeviled, written and directed by Abel and Burlee Vang. Hitting in 2016, this film follows a group of friends who find themselves haunted after downloading a Siri-esque app called Mr. Bedevil.
Between his creepy appearance and his ability to mess with these kids even when they don’t have possession of their phones, Mr. Bedevil seems to be a new take on the ol’ Freddy idea. I’m sure that very idea will turn off many old school horror fans, but I thought this was a nice little story that not only gets into some social issues, but also digs into the dangers of the tech-based FOMO so many seem to get caught up in these days, not to mention the larger worries of social media.
Far from perfect, especially when it came to figuring out how it all worked, I liked this movie that probably wasn’t for me in the first place.
The other throwback I dug was Damien Leone’s Terrifier, which is about a full-on clown dubbed Art who is also a slasher of epic proportions. I haven’t seen them, but this character also appeared in Leone’s short Terrifier as well as his segment of All Hallow’s Eve. He’s definitely one of the creepiest new slashers I’ve seen in a long time (maybe since Chrome Skull in Laid To Rest?).
Jam packed with a mix of mundane and mad characters plus a healthy cocktail of dread and some of the bloodiest gore scenes I’ve seen in quite a while, Terrifier offers up a lot for anyone looking for a new slasher film in the vein of the old school. It won’t blow your mind, but it will definitely entertain.
Shifting gears from films that did their own thing while feeling familiar, 2015’s Patchwork co-written by Chris Lee Hill and Tyler MacIntyre and directed by MacIntyre (the guys who made Tragedy Girls, a film I have yet to see) took me on an all-new journey. I heard about the film when they appeared as guests on my favorite horror podcast Shock Waves and mentioned this earlier film. It happened to be on Netflix, so I put it in my eyes.
And I sure am glad I did. The idea here is that three different women get kidnapped and seemingly killed by mysterious forces only for them all to wind up inhabiting the same body because their parts have been sewn together! That translates into two different kinds of scenes, ones where we see the pieced-together woman walking around and the other where all three women are present and talking to each other!
There are certainly nods to some of the classics in this film and a tone that might feel more at home in the 80s, but I give MacIntyre and Hill a lot of credit for giving me something to watch that I’ve not only never seen before, but never even thought of! I’m all the more excited to watch Tragedy Girls and keep an eye on their careers moving forward.
As it happens, I have been following a good chunk of writer-director David Bruckner’s career without even knowing it. He’s done segments in the anthologies V/H/S and the excellent Southbound, but also the Netflix film The Ritual.
In this one, a group of friends in their 30s — including one of the Andys from Hot Fuzz, Thomas from Downton Abbey and the guy with glasses from Alien Vs. Predator — get together to hike through Sweden as a way of remembering their friend Rob who was murdered in a convenience store robbery not long before.
Not well trained for the excursion and just barely concealing deep-seeded anger towards one another, the fun reunion devolves into a fight for survival as an injury leads them to change their course, a decision that puts them directly in contact with malevolent elements intent on putting them through the physical and emotional ringer.
Before long they’re drenched in rain, reeling from terrible nightmares and facing off against some supernatural threats that made my skin crawl. As a guy who’s had the same group of guy friends since grade and high school who also meets up with them for weekend hangouts, this one worked its way into my brain and I still think about it quite a bit even though I first watched it back in March. Actually, now that I think about it, a re-watch might be in order.
Finally, and this is admittedly a cheat, I’m closing out by talking about the second and third seasons of the Syfy series Channel Zero. If you’re unfamiliar, this anthology show is helmed by Nick Ancosta who bases the entire six-episode season around a particular Creepy Pasta (an online horror story usually referred to as a true story that’s usually been added to by many other folks), though these have all been traced back to an actual source for legal and storytelling reasons.
So far, the first season Candle Cove has been my favorite as it revolves around a bunch of grown-ups remembering a kid’s show that never existed when they were kids. However, I watched that one in 2017 so I can’t count it (but definitely check it out if you haven’t).
In 2018 I did watch both No-End House and Butcher’s Block. I’m not going to get into the details of either because they’re both pretty heady and out-there, but if you’re looking for beautifully shot, often disturbing efforts from huge talents, then give the show a shot. Even looking back now, I remember certain images and how they made me feel rather than story details. I’m hankering to get into the fourth — and potentially final — season The Dream Door, but I’ve got to be in a good head space because it will certainly mess with my emotions.