2017, you may have had your low moments, but in regards to horror films, you came out on top. Between the success of independent horror films along with the box office smash hits surrounding IT and Get Out, horror is firmly cementing itself as a genre that should be taken seriously. When it came to deciding my favorite horror films of the year, I struggled only because there were so many incredible ones to choose from. After narrowing them down, I've chosen my top 5 of the year and can only hope that 2018 will bring us just as many incredible movies to choose from.
#5 - VICTOR CROWLEY
I was one of the lucky few that attended the secret screening of Adam Green's VICTOR CROWLEY under the guise that it was the 10th Anniversary screening of Hatchet. I hadn't been the biggest fan of the Hatchet franchise prior but I respected the fandom surrounding it. With that said, I was absolutely blown away with VICTOR CROWLEY. I thought the continuation of the story and how it was executed was stellar and I loved seeing some of the returning characters as well as some brand new faces. Along with the screening, director Adam Green gave a heartfelt speech that hit me right in the center of my heart and brought to light how devastating and all consuming depression and mental illness can be. Overall, being able to attend such a special screening and hearing about Green's rise from depression made this one of the best experiences I had this year.
#4 - IT
This year was a huge year for horror, most notably due to the huge success of IT. Though I have a love/hate relationship with Stephen King's "It" novel, the film, a re-imagining of the 1990 mini-series, brought to life King's vision in a way that was both heartwarming and terrifying. At its core, the story is a coming-of-age one that was depicted brilliantly through the talents of the young actors. As for Pennywise, though I love Tim Curry's rendition, Bill Skarsgard hit a grand slam with his interpretation, truly becoming the new face of terror.
#3 - ANNABELLE: CREATION
I'll be honest, going into this film I had very low expectations. Though I'm in the minority when it comes to the first film (I didn't hate it as much as the rest of the world did), I didn't think it warranted a sequel, let alone a prequel. Boy, was I wrong. Director David F. Sandberg went full tilt with ANNABELLE: CREATION resulting in a movie that was not only fun and intriguing, but also legitimately scary. Though you never actually see the Annabelle doll move during the film, the implied notion and overall feeling of dread anytime it was on screen, made it so that you never wanted to be in the same room as that ever watching evil creation. Out of all the films on this list, ANNABELLE: CREATION was without a doubt the most terrifying for me.
#2 - GERALD'S GAME
I know, two Stephen King adaptations on one list, but where IT involved the supernatural, GERALD'S GAME involved the horror that humans are capable of along with the terror that our mind, and memories, can bring forth. I'll be honest, this film made me hate men on a deep level; between Jessie's (Carla Gugino) husband, played by Bruce Greenwood, and her father, played by Henry Thomas, these characters manipulated and used Jessie for their own selfish and disturbing reasons. I had quite a strong visceral reaction to this film and it has stayed with me since my first viewing. GERALD'S GAME, on a technical level, showcases superb acting, especially from Carla Gugino, and expert storytelling per the direction of director Mike Flanagan. I had been a fan of Flanagan's work prior to GERALD'S GAME, but I truly believe that this film, especially in the way in which he has it unfold, is truly his masterpiece thus far.
#1 - MOTHER
It's been a long time since a film has impacted me the way that MOTHER! has. I had the chance to preview it a few weeks before its release and at the time no one, including myself, really had any inclining of what the film was about; however, that didn't stop the rumor mill from spreading. With marketing that teased a possible remake of Rosemary's Baby, and a film that featured America's sweetheart, Jennifer Lawrence, audiences went in with a false sense of comfort, only to explode with anger and rage towards the film. I, for one, adore MOTHER! and it's one of the best films I've ever seen and easily my favorite from director Darren Aronofsky, The fact that Aronofsky was able to get a huge studio such as Paramount Pictures to release this film as a mass market movie astounds me. This movie made me feel rage, anger, confusion, and legitimate surprise; a range of emotions that I rarely feel while watching a film. It took me days to comprehend the full meaning of it and it made me question a lot of my upbringing and the religious sense. Through all of that, though, it ended up making me FEEL. I love this movie, I love Aronofsky for not giving a singular fuck, I love that so many people were angry, I love the horror and beauty that is presented and I love that this film challenged me. That is why it's my favorite film of 2017.
As I said, there were so many films to choose from this year, and so many that got a 5 star rating from me that deserve honorable mentions. They are as follows:
S. Craig Zahler's BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99
Nacho Vigalondo's COLOSSAL
Sean Byrne's THE DEVIL'S CANDY
Julia Ducournau's RAW
Sean Brosnan's MY FATHER DIE
Along with these great films, I also need to give a shout out to the best short films of the year which include:
Remi Weekes' TICKLE MONSTER
Laura Moss' FRY DAY
Reed Van Dyk's DEKALB ELEMENTARY
Roseanne Liang's DO NO HARM
Izzy Lee's RITES OF VENGEANCE