Another year has come and gone, which means 12 more months of horror has to be discussed. While I’ve been thinking of this list for some weeks now, I have been dreading making it for just as long.
I am not the greatest when it comes to ranking films, so the list you are about to jump into will be in no particular order. My memory also isn’t the greatest, so I’m already sure that I will be forgetting something, only to slap myself later for doing so.
My list is by no means representative of the opinion of all horror fans and quite frankly, I expect that your list will look completely different from mine. Also, keep in mind that I did not get to watch every film that I planned on throughout the year, so if you see one of your favorites missing from here, it may simply be because I just did not get around to watching it.
With all of this said, lets jump into it.
Us – A lot of eyes were on Jordan Peele as he geared up for his second entry in the horror realm. The funnyman surprised fans from all over with his breakout hit, Get Out, so he had to really bring it with this follow-up. In my opinion, although it differed quite a bit from his horror debut, Us was a fantastic film from start to finish. Its mix of violence and well-placed comedic relief, along with an original script, makes this one a perfect multi-time watch.
Pet Sematary – As soon as any type of reboot or remake is mentioned, the whole world implodes and horror fans are up in arms. The funny thing about this is that most of the remakes that I’ve seen over the years are actually quite good in my opinion. Sure, co-directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer took some liberties with their iteration, changing things up a bit from both the original film and the Stephen King novel that it was adapted from, but this one still has a lot going for it; A talented cast and a new take for a perhaps younger horror audience are always welcome if you ask me.
Midsommar – Like the aforementioned Jordan Peele, Ari Aster made huge waves with his first feature film. In fact, if you look at my best of list from last year, you’ll see Hereditary featured along with the other greats. Midsommar is a totally different beast from the Aster’s 2018 debut, but his particular brand of creating terror under peculiar circumstances is ever-present. Bright, sunny days and smiling faces fill the screen as bizarre rituals are performed, making it easy to feel uneasy while watching. On top of that, Florence Pugh’s performance is outstanding and reason alone to give this a film a shot if you haven’t done so already.
Brightburn – Horror cinema can come in all shapes and sizes and when elements of sci-fi and action are thrown into the mix, the results can certainly be exciting. I knew this David Yarovesky-directed film about a young boy who discovers he has superpowers was going to be something I refused to miss as soon as it was announced. The performances from all parties, including Elizabeth Banks and David Denman, are fantastic from start to finish, and while I actually wish this film was a bit longer, it still satisfied the need I had for the superhero-gone-evil flick I never knew I wanted.
The Prodigy – I almost skipped this one altogether, but sitting at home bored out of your mind can be a good thing sometimes. I went to the theater randomly one day to fill time and expected a mediocre modern day horror flick with little to write home about. Boy, was I completely mistaken, as Nicholas McCarthy’s evil kid flick blew me away. In my full-length review, I believe I compared this one to the original Child’s Play. While we all know that story as a serial killer who inhabits the body of a doll, this one is different only in the fact that instead of a doll, it is a little boy who is inhabited by said killer. I feel like a lot of people skipped this one, just as I originally planned on doing, but I must insist you check this one out if you haven’t done so already!
Ready or Not – There are some movies that you just know you are going to enjoy immensely straight away. Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett’s Ready or Not was one of those movies. This Samara Weaving-starrer has the perfect blend of comedy and gruesome violence, a combination that is not that easy to pull off. I loved everything about this film and really cannot wait to see what these filmmakers bring us next.
Child’s Play – Just like Pet Sematary, the announcement of a new take on a cult classic like Child’s Play immediately had the horror community throwing a collective fit. I will admit that I wasn’t sure what to expect as stills and trailers began surfacing, but I am extremely glad that I gave this one its fair chance. Yes, it is quite different from the original 1988 rendition, but there is lots of fun to be had with this one and if you can, for one minute, ignore the fact that you love that oldie but goodie so damn much, you, too, can enjoy this one as much as I did!
3 from Hell – I waited years for Rob Zombie to return to the filmmaker I had seen with his 2005 hit, The Devil’s Rejects. With each passing film, I became more and more disappointed, eventually coming to the conclusion that I would never get that same level of genius back from this man. Alas, the inevitable sequel was finally announced and then released, bringing me from the brink of eternal broken-heartedness. The long overdue reunion with the Firefly family was a bit different from what I had anticipated, but I still loved every bit of it. Seeing Otis, Baby, and newcomer Foxy getting up to no good for 90+ minutes was a great experience and I thank Rob Zombie for finally giving us long time fans what we so desperately needed.
Bliss – Every film I’ve mentioned so far was one that I’ve experienced in an actual movie theater. While this one was not released in that same capacity, it does not take away from the experience I had with it. In fact, this one is my favorite of them all, hands down. Joe Begos’ past films were always ones that I enjoyed to a certain extent, but it wasn’t until my viewing of this, his third feature-length picture, that I realized how much of a master of his craft he really is. I literally cannot think of one bad thing to say about Bliss and I implore you to drop what you are doing, after you finish reading this of course, and immediately get your hands on a copy of this film. It absolutely needs to be experienced by any and everyone.
I am not the biggest fan of episodic television series. It mostly has to do with the fact that I simply do not have time to watch all of the content being pumped out by every channel, network, and streaming service that exists today.
I did include a short list of episodic shows in last years list, however, so I felt the need to do so again, no matter how short it may be.
You – Having only watched season 2 of this Netflix offered series a few short days ago, it is obviously the most fresh in my mind. I wasn’t even aware that a second season was available until I happened to randomly open the app on my smart TV and saw it being promoted largely across my entire screen. I quite enjoyed this season, much more than the first even. The returning Penn Badgley does a great job as the show’s main attraction, serial stalker and murderer, Joe Goldberg, er, Will Bettelheim, er, whatever you want to call him, and the introduction of Victoria Pedretti (“The Haunting of Hill House”) was another perfect reason for me to watch.
Mindhunter – Just like “You,” the second season of this series, also presented by Netflix, was a more enjoyable watch than the first. It does offer more of the same from the 2017 premiere season — the studying of serial killers, the creation of FBI profiling methods, etc — but with fantastic performances by individuals playing the likes of Charles Manson and David Berkowitz, these 9 episodes flew by for me. This season revitalized by fandom of the series and I actually am hoping for a third season sooner rather than later.
As I hope to still have the attention of at least some of you at this point, I won’t keep you much longer. While a lot of my horror is digested through a screen, that doesn’t mean it is strictly limited to those means.
Horror content can be found in almost all mediums. This year was big for me in terms of returning to reading actual novels, so I feel the need to make brief mention of a book or two from 2019.
Joe Hill’s Full Throttle is a collection of short stories, some a bit older and some new, that should be read by all fans of the author. It has a bit of something for everyone and I am extremely happy I picked up a copy for my collection.
Unfortunately, that is the only book I read that actually came out in 2019, so I won’t list any more of those here. I will, however, mention a few comic book titles that also have to do with good old Joe Hill, as well.
Having partnered with DC Comics for a subsidiary line of horror-based titles, Joe Hill and company have unleashed The Low, Low Woods, Basketful of Heads, and The Dollhouse Family, with even more on the way. The subject matter for each of these new ongoing series differs quite a bit from one another, but rest assured they are all worth your time. Be sure to visit your local comic shop (yes, those still exist) to ask about these titles and more from other horror writers!
Anyone who follows me on here, on my YouTube channel, or on social media knows that I have always been a huge fan and supporter of the horrorcore sub-genre of hip hop. This year was also a big one for that scene with some exciting releases from artists like Isolated Beingz, Razakel and The Slice Girls, The J. Hexx Project, Bad Mind, Don Orias, and many more that I know I am forgetting. I do plan on writing a more in-depth analysis of those releases and more in the coming weeks, so I will leave it at that for now.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you very much for sticking with me! As you can tell, 2019 was a big year in horror and that is only taking into account what I could include here without taking up another 30 minutes of your time. I could have easily added at least another 10 films and even more titles from TV, books, etc.
The past 12 months have been great for horror fans, whether you love big mainstream blockbusters or low-budget gore flicks, and I am excited to see what the next 12 have to offer. Stay tuned to RepulsiveReviews.com, as I plan on bringing you some of the best and worst that 2020 has to offer.