Weekend Binge: Here are the top 13 most chilling horror movies of 2017 to watch this Halloween
As a run up to Halloween, we’ve selected the top 13 horror movies of 2017; from the record breaking It to some undiscovered gems like Gerald’s Game, Get Out and Creep 2.Updated: Oct 28, 2017 15:40 IST
Every week, we will curate a collection of titles - movies, TV, general miscellanea - for you to watch (and in some cases, read, or listen to), in a series we call Weekend Binge. The selection will be based on a theme which binds the picks - which could be extremely blunt in certain instances, or confusingly abstract in some. No rules apply, other than the end goal being getting some great entertainment to watch.
While the idea is to base the theme on the week’s major events - it could be the release of a new movie, or show - we could also use this opportunity to comment on our world in general, and turn to art to wrap our heads around some of the more difficult stories of the past seven days.
It has been a fascinating year for horror movies. Usually, each year produces a handful of breakout hits - the sort of film that plays to packed houses at genre festivals, gets scooped up by upstart studios, and is premiered at midnight screenings amid frenzied online buzz - films like Don’t Breathe (2016), or The Witch the year before that. But 2017 has been different. This has been the year of blockbuster horror - thanks mostly to the record-breaking It.
You’ll read about the fantastic Stephen King adaptation here, in our list of the best horror movies of 2017, along with a selection of smaller films - gems like Get Out (our top pick) and mother! (whose existence itself is a bit of a miracle).
So as a run up to Halloween, we’ve selected 13 outstanding horror movies from 2017, in no particular order:
Split is perhaps the most Hitchcockian film M Night Shyalamalan has made: Tight, claustrophobic, and when it needs to be, completely and utterly bonkers. It’s the sort of film that can – like James McAvoy’s character – switch effortlessly between white-knuckle thrills, gory horror, and when you least expect it, grotesque, morbid humour.
It’s at its best – ironically, for a scary movie – not when it is tormenting its young heroes with fresh evil every 15 minutes, but when it’s laying in the fields with them. In that regard, it’s a better coming of age drama than it is a scary film - but that’s what elevates it.
While most of the attention was understandably directed towards It, 2017 will, in the years to come, be recognised as the bringer of a new Golden Age for Stephen King adaptations. It’s kind of incredible that three King adaptations - we’ve spoken about It, and we’ll shortly get to 1922 - feature on our list. And it’s a testament to his talents as a horror storyteller that each of these movies is wildly different from the others. Gerald’s Game is a cracking psychological horror film - with an irresistible premise, near-flawless execution by director Mike Flanagan, and a sympathetic exploration of potent themes.
With 1922, director Zac Hilditch has made a stately horror picture about broken families, jealousy, and the sins of the father — all staple Stephen King themes. He employs a gorgeous, psychological slow-burn approach to the storytelling, and punctuates it with sudden bursts of visceral horror. It’s a film that strides just as confidently through scenes of duplicitous dialogue as it does in moments of shocking gore.
Life is a remarkably well made movie. Almost too well made in fact, for the sort of film it is (a largely derivative thriller which borrows heavily not only from the goofy monster movies of the ‘50s, but also from gory ‘80s horror and pulpy ‘90s action). But it’s telling that in a year that gave us a bonafide Alien movie, the blatant ripoff turned out to be the better film.
The problem with Raw is that it’ll always be remembered as the cannibal movie that left audiences at Cannes scurrying for the exits. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a coming of age film. It’s a film about not fitting in. It might even be a film about getting periods. Who knows? But what we can all definitely agree on is that it’s more than just a movie in which moody teens eat each other.
The Babysitter is a joyous take on the home invasion subgenre - like the next movie on the list, Better Watch Out, which we’ll get to in a moment - and at 85 minutes long, it moves at a clip; there’s barely a moment that goes by in which someone isn’t having their head caved in, their boob shot at, or their skull sliced open. It isn’t a film for the faint of heart, or those easily offended, but it has the makings of a cult classic, or at the very least something to dive into this Halloween.
Better Watch Out
Although there’s no way of telling what the demand is like for a Patrick Bateman origin story, Better Watch Out answers that question with resounding confidence. Yes, the world needs an American Psycho prequel. Who knew? While it takes a while to get into its groove - there’s about a half-hour chunk during which you don’t quite know where it’s going - when it settles in, regardless of whether or not you’re on board, it morphs one of the most jaw-droppingly bold horror movies of the year. Better Watch Out is a terrific Christmas film, a deranged love letter to Home Alone, and a twisted takedown of toxic masculinity.
The Devil’s Candy
In 2009, Aussie director Sean Byrne burst onto the scene with a gloriously subversive take on torture porn. It didn’t make much money at the box office, but it became a cult success in the years that followed - and rightly so. More importantly, though, it afforded Byrne the luxury of making more insane horror films, and The Devil’s Candy is another winner - a demented tale about madness and demonic symbolism and, oddly, heavy metal.
Looking at the list we’ve got so far, it’s rather encouraging to see just how diverse these movies are - they flirt with science-fiction, social commentary, psychological thrills, period drama, and found footage. But The Void might be the most unusual of them all: It belongs to a niche subgenre known as Lovecraftian horror, a great example of which would be the first Alien movie, Stephen King’s The Mist and the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. Lovecraftian horror deals with the unknown, and our inherent fear of it - and The Void is a fine example of how movies can evoke an eerie atmosphere from virtually nothing. As Steven Spielberg once said, “What you don’t see is often scarier than what you can.”
At a time when the found footage subgenre was being talked about as a passing fad - and admittedly, as far as mainstream horror was concerned, it was - along came a precious little movie called Creep. Like most of Mark Duplass’ works, it was a mishmash of tones and themes, equally dark and funny. But its most impressive feat was that it really understood the immediacy that the found footage style of filmmaking brings to a story, the unnerving realism it adds, and the psychological bond it forges between the audience and the characters. Because Creep 2 is the only sequel on this list - besides Split, of course - it would really make sense if you went back and watched the original first.
One paragraph simply isn’t enough to talk about Darren Aronofsky’s fever dream of a film. But honestly, an entire volume of books wouldn’t be enought to discuss the astonishing vision on display here. They don’t make films like mother! anymore, certainly not on this scale and with such stars - there is never a scene in which the camera isn’t inches away from Jennifer Lawrence’s face. Fair warning though: This is the sort of film that has the power to scar the best of us, so as Walter White once said, “tread lightly.”
While Get Out is overtly about the current racial climate in America; police violence, and the deep-rooted anger different communities harbour against each other, it’s themes could easily be transported to India.It could be just as powerful a film about the class divide and casteism. And that’s the power of great cinema, especially great genre cinema - it transcends borders, and strikes universal themes. It wouldn’t be too surprising if Get Out breaks the decades-long prejudice against horror movies at the Oscars. It certainly deserves it.
First Published: Oct 28, 2017 09:34 IST