2017 has come and gone, and now it’s time for 2018 to spread its wings and carry us to a brighter future (It’s far more likely to drop us in a volcano). Though last year proved to be quite the dumpster fire in the real world, cinema buffs were treated to many great films on both large and small scales- including the horror genre, which experienced one of its single greatest years, well, ever. It’s no simple task to rank the 10 best horror movies of such a stacked year, so rather than sacrificing my mind to that unwarranted internal conflict, I’ve decided to simply list the must-watch horror films of 2017, in no particular order, because each of them are pretty fucking great regardless of where they stand.
If I were ranking these films, Andy Muschietti’s big-screen adaptation of the famed Stephen King source material would easily claim the top spot because I’m honestly biased as hell. This isn’t a ranking, however, I can say with confidence that It is one of the year’s must-watch horror films. In fact, judging by the record-breaking box office numbers, you likely already have. Funny, enchanting, and loaded with an equal amount of scares and heart, It stands as one of the all-time best Stephen King adaptations. Welcome to the Losers’ Club, asshole. Bring on Chapter Two.
Jordan Peele would’ve likely been satisfied enough by Get Out‘s stellar reviews and place in 2017’s pop culture, but the director’s debut feature has accomplished more than these basic offerings as it enters awards season as a serious contender- a rare feat for genre films of any kind, especially a horror movie. Peele’s film deftly balances scares and his signature humor against a socially aware and relevant backdrop. Get Out isn’t only one of the year’s best films, it’s one of the greatest horror movies ever made.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
I don’t like to throw “masterpiece” around without putting serious thought behind it, but the word seems fitting when describing the bizarre psychological horror film that is The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Director Yorgos Lanthimos has been turning heads since the release of The Lobster in 2016, and with Sacred Deer, he’s established himself as one of the greatest filmmakers working today. Colin Farrell delivers one of the year’s best, albeit subtle, performances, and the film implores uncomfortable tension to the point of nervous laughter. The less you know about it, the better. You absolutely must experience The Killing of a Sacred Deer for yourself.
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are two of the most promising filmmakers in the business today. With Resolution, Spring, and now The Endless under their belts, they’ve proven to be a fresh voice- offering unique, genre-blending experiences that are much deeper than mainstream offerings. In the case of The Endless, the duo finds themselves firing on all cylinders in front of AND behind the camera, striking a balance between humor and tension that is sure to keep viewers on their toes. You have no idea where the story is taking you, but you trust the filmmakers to deliver- and deliver, they do. For those of you that weren’t able to see The Endless during its festival run, you can check it out when it hits theaters on March 23rd!
The Devil’s Candy
Sean Byrne’s first film since The Loved Ones is impressively tense. Each frame of the film ratchets the intensity and looming dread to almost unbearable levels of suspense. Ethan Embry gives a career-best performance, Pruitt Taylor Vince is reliably sinister, and the hard rock/metal genres of music are utilized in a badass way. I chewed the fuck out of my fingernails while watching The Devil’s Candy. Catch it on Netflix now.
It Comes at Night
Somehow, It Comes at Night became the most hated horror film of the year. Whereas some people find it to be a boring, uneventful, post-apocalyptic waste of time, others, such as myself, believe it to be a haunting, enthralling psychological study of how tragedy and paranoia can affect even the sanest of people. The “It” in question is paranoia and fear. This aspect may be disappointing to viewers who are expecting a more concrete villain, but despite its divisiveness- or perhaps because of it- It Comes at Night is one of 2017’s must-watch horror films.
Holy hell, is M. Night Shyamalan back in a big way. The film-connecting revelation at the end is enough to make Split a must-watch horror film, but it’s the path that leads us to that point that’s truly special. Shyamalan blends humor with soul-squeezing tension, James McAvoy convincingly, and at times, terrifyingly, portrays a character with multiple personalities, and Anya Taylor-Joy continues to shine as a horror actress. It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to say that M. Night Shyamalan made one of the year’s best films, but in the case of Split, he did just that.
The second Stephen King adaptation on our list also stands as one of the best. Mike Flanagan continues to make great horror film after great horror film, but Gerald’s Game may just be his best yet. Carla Gugino gives a riveting central performance, and Flanagan ratchets up the tension of a terrifying scenario while also diving deep into an emotionally heavy story. It’s been streaming on Netflix for a few months now, so you have no excuse not to check it out (Unless you don’t have Netflix, which is kind of weird at this point).
Speaking of films that are streaming on Netflix, Creep 2 made its way onto the streaming service in late December, and it’s every bit as great as the original film. Mark Duplass is appropriately *creepy* in his return to the villainous role, and the uncomfortable and awkward humor of the first film is cranked up to eleven this time around. The Creep franchise is quickly becoming one of our favorites, and this sequel leaves the door wide open for a potential final chapter. Let’s hope that’s the case.
Few films in 2017 were as balls-to-the-wall insane as Joe Lynch’s Mayhem. The horror comedy delivers over-the-top brutality at an almost frantic pace, and it’s glorious to behold. Steven Yeun delivers a layered and charismatic central performance, and the chemistry between himself and co-star Samara Weaving is addicting as hell. The film is a blast of fun, high octane energy from start to finish, with an added bonus of having something of substance to say about following your dreams. It’s impossible not to love.
That rounds out our list of 2017’s must-watch horror films! Did your favorites make the cut? Share your personal rankings with us in the comments and on social media!
You may also like: