Tom Beasley examines the best horror movies of 2017, from sharp social satire to an evil clown…
The reaction to 2017’s horror movie slate has, bizarrely, been one of surprise. It’s as if a year of impressive scary movies is somehow a rarity, when in fact the genre has consistently delivered strong movies in recent years.
What is true, however, is that 2017 has been an uncommonly good year for the darker side of cinema. The mainstream corner of horror has produced its most successful movie of all time, while the arthouse world has also delivered the goods and there’s even an Oscar contender in the genre.
But first, let’s head Down Under for one of the nastiest films of the year…
15. Killing Ground
Australia is home to some of the most grim, macabre movies in modern cinema, from Justin Kurzel’s troubling true crime tale Snowtown to the tourism slasher Wolf Creek. This year, Damien Power made his entrance into that world with debut feature Killing Ground, in which a young couple’s camping trip turns sour when two backwoods locals pursue them.
It’s a compelling and gripping tale, told with a rich vein of button-pushing violence. The timeline shifts of the script don’t always come off perfectly, but there’s enough darkness here to keep the horror fans baying for blood happy.
14. Annabelle: Creation
Given how unspeakably terrible the first Annabelle film was back in 2014, its impressive that the franchise has taken such a large uptick with sequel Annabelle: Creation. The origin tale for the creepy doll is an interesting one and, though the film showcases a straightforward adherence to modern horror clichés, it’s delivered with such finesse that it completely holds together.
James Wan and his pool of horror protégés have done a stellar job of expanding the universe of The Conjuring. The popularity of the shared universe model has now made its way to the world of the macabre and Wan is managing to make it work.
13. The Eyes of My Mother
This monochrome horror might not appeal to the most ardent gorehounds, but it’s a terrifying study of a sociopathic character. The pacing is slow and deliberate throughout, despite the relatively brief 80-minute running time. Kika Magalhães is tremendous as an isolated woman who has grown up around violence and is deeply interested in the concepts of death and murder.
The Eyes of My Mother largely keeps its most horrific acts of violence outside of the frame, but there are images here that recall the torture of Audition or Hostel. By exercising admirable restraint, the horror becomes only too potent.
The fact Prevenge even exists is testament to the ambition and talent of Alice Lowe. She wrote, directed and starred in the film while heavily pregnant, shooting guerrilla-style in Cardiff. Lowe plays protagonist Ruth, who is driven to carry out a brutal killing spree by the malevolent foetus growing inside her, voiced with joyous darkness by Lowe herself.
It’s a blackly comic, episodic horror movie punctuated by Ruth’s frenetic, splattery attacks. There’s a rough around the edges feel to the entire film, which gives it a ramshackle charm on top of the regular grisly violence.
11. Happy Death Day
The guys over at Blumhouse have had a remarkable year. On the face of it, Happy Death Day seems like just a premise, but the resulting film has a real sense of fun. It’s not necessarily a scary horror movie, but Happy Death Day is exactly what it needs to be. The film combines fun scenes of murder with a twisty plot and some enjoyable teen wrangling between college students Tree (Jessica Rothe) and Carter (Israel Broussard) as the former tries to use the time loop she is trapped in to solve her own murder.
Years after the slasher movie was seemingly killed off by the self-referential sarcasm of Scream, this shows there’s plenty of room left for an original approach to the masked killer.
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