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By James Whittington, Tuesday 1st January 2019
It's been a real bumper year for horror movie fans. 2018 delivered up more cinematic scares than most years, it also saw he return of some of one of the most iconic monsters of all time.
Ghost Stories The movie that breathed new life into the portmanteau genre, Ghost Stories is a sublime excursion into the smart minds of two incredibly talented people; Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman. Phillip Goodman (Nyman), professor of psychology, arch-skeptic, one-man 'belief buster' - has his rationality tested to the hilt when he receives a letter apparently from beyond the grave. Played totally straight and written and directed by Dyson and Nyman from their own celebrated stage play, Ghost Stories delivers an unforgettable experience and proves once again that Andy Nyman is one of our finest actors and each scene he appears should be cherished.
The Ranger Jenn Wexler gave us one of the biggest hits of FrightFest 2018, The Ranger. This full-bloodied, retro shocker delivered big style as well as having one of the coolest soundtracks of the year. The idea is straightforward; a park ranger sorts out some unruly teens in his forest but one of them who stands in his way. By using smart camera work and an even smarter attention to pacing, Wexler is certainly going to go on to even bigger things. Can't wait to see what she does next.
Pyewacket Teen horror is a difficult horror genre to get right, mainly because most of the time the teens in the movie are just brats and you don't connect with them. Adam MacDonald's Pyewacket jumps this fence perfectly and delivers a film that refreshes the concept of black magic whilst building up the tension to an off the scale level. Leah (Nicole Munoz) is forced by her unstable mother (Laurie Holden), to leave her friends behind and move to a house in the woods. Isolated, Leah turns to Black Magic to release her anger. Naively she performs an occult to invoke the spirit of a witch to kill her mother. Jumping from nightmarish visions to pure horror moments, this is the slow-burner of the year with standout performances from Munoz and Holden. Their ability to give a natural depth to their characters makes it and even more chilling experience.
Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil Ever wished that Terry Gilliam made more movies? Paul Urkijo's demonic movie Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil fills that void amicably being a joyous celebration of inventiveness and satisfying storytelling. Ten years after Civil War in Spain 1833, Usue (Uma Bracaglia) seeks escape from her abusive guardians and constant harassment from villagers. But her doll ends up at the property of Patxi (Kandido Uranga) a lonely and feared blacksmith who is the keeper of a terrifying secret. Urkijo gaves the audience exactly what it wants, a joyous piece of cinema that mixes folklore, superb characterisation and real heart. Eneko Sagardoy who plays the demon Sartael steals the movie.
Anna and the Apocalypse Hands up who likes musicals? Now hands up who likes horror movies. Now hands up who likes both at the same time? Anna and the Apocalypse is such a beast which has given us all a new Christmas movie to watch annually. Anna is a straight-A student, struggling with her mom's death, total friend drama, and the fallout from wasting her time on a very attractive boy. But a zombie apocalypse majorly disrupts the holiday season. This crazy premise really works thanks to a truly talented cast and crew and some great tracks. The young players perfectly and director combine the two genres in a movie that wouldn't be out of place in the West End.
Lifechanger If you like your horror that's surreal but has one foot firmly in reality, then Lifechanger is for you. A shape-shifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves but had to leave behind for her own safety's sake. But moving between body snatches is becoming confusing, mind-bending and more debilitating by the minute. This heart-breaking movie has real soul to it, a perfect blend of pathos and smart fiction, you really don't know where the film will go and ultimately leaves you an emotional wreck.
Halloween Probably the most anticipated horror movie of the year, Halloween became the biggie with fans and at the box-office. With Jamie Lee Curtis back as Laurie Strode and original director John Carpenter doing the score, the movie became an event. And boy did it deliver! It's been 40 years since Laurie survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers, now faces a terrifying showdown when Michael returns to Haddonfield. By picking up directly from the 1978 original, director David Gordon Green took the themes and some of the camera work from the original and polished them into one of the finest slashers. Curtis owns this movie, her empowered take on Strode is mesmerising to watch and Carpenter's score cranks up the tension perfectly.
Leigh Whannell added another string to his creative bow in 2018 with a stylish piece of Sci-Fi that delivered so much action you needed a lie down after watching it. Set in the near future, tech controls nearly all aspects of life. When Grey is made quadriplegic in an accident his only is an experimental computer chip implant called STEM that allows him to achieve miraculous feats of mind and strength. But then STEM starts to take full control of his body and the true nano nightmares begin. This is only Whannell's second feature as a director and proves he has a vision for style as well as writing scripts full of substance.
One Cut of the Dead The breakout movie of the whole of the FrightFest event, One Cut of the Dead is a superb, low-budget piece from Shin'ichiro Ueda. A film crew is shooting a zombie horror flick in an abandoned water filtration plant, allegedly used for human experiments by the military. Just as the director browbeats his actors and demands more special effects blood, a real zombie apocalypse erupts, much to his auteur delight. A meta movie that builds on an incredible 37-minute opening shot, it turns itself on its head leaving you in a spin of originality and precise storytelling. This movie will be huge when it gets its big release this year.
A Quiet Place Another movie that generated so shedload of buzz was a new piece from actor/director John Krasinski, and it made all the right sounds and got a lot of people sitting up and taking notice. In A Quite Place, a family of four must navigate their lives in silence after mysterious creatures that hunt by sound threaten their survival. To put it simply, if they hear you, they hunt you. A real hit at the start of the year, the movie became known as something you had to experience rather than just watch and if anyone was sitting next to you eating popcorn, well, you weren't responsible for your actions!
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