I can’t help but feel underqualified to write a list of my 5 top horror films for 2017, since I haven’t seen nearly as many as I’d like. I know for a fact there are at least another hundred that are completely worth the time, and almost certainly at least a percentage of those would be worthy of inclusion on this list. Sadly, I’m ill-equipped, so I have to make a mad kamikaze run at this, probably exploding myself horribly in the process…but here we go!
#5 – LIFE
LIFE wears its influences on its sci-fi/horror sleeves. Let’s face it, it’s an Alien clone with a studio budget, name actors, and a really nasty CGI extraterrestrial. It’s fun despite its derivativeness, and ends with a gut-punch that works whether you see it coming or not. Sure, the production values are the only thing preventing it from being a SyFy original, but it’s nice to see something like this on the big screen these days that isn’t a remake.
#4 – THE ENDLESS
Spring was one of the best horror films of recent years, successfully mixing romance with Lovecraftian grotesquerie, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s follow-up, THE ENDLESS. The film finally hit screens on the indie circuit this year, and while I don’t think it’s as strong as Spring, it still delivers another fun slice of clever, mysterious sci-fi that stands head and shoulders above any similar fare released by the major studios this year.
#3 – GERALD’S GAME
A Stephen King adaptation that isn’t complete ass – a true rarity! In fact, it was really, really not ass! I read the book before indulging in the film, and for a story that relies so much on internal dialogue and conflict, director Mike Flanagan did a fantastic job of translating King’s harrowing tale to the screen.
#2 – MOTHER!
“Misunderstood” is the main word that comes to mind when I think of Darren Aronofsky’s intense biblical allegory, MOTHER!. Aronofsky wanted to do something different here, and ended up scaring off the mainstream audiences. The backlash against MOTHER! was legendary, which is sad. It deserved better. It’s a smart film, exquisitely made and offers something fresh for those willing to look below the surface.
#1 – IT
I want to be the guy that unearths some unknown, obscure gem and holds it high above my head screaming, “Look, this is my favorite film of the year! You’ve never heard of it, which means my tastes are superior to those of the plebeians who slide into the multiplexes like philistine slugs year in year out!”
But I can’t. I’m putting the most widely released, successful and commercially appealing horror film of the year at the top of my list because, well, it’s solid, entertaining, and likable. There might be a lack of Tim Curry, but everything else makes up for it. I have to ask, what’s going on? Two Stephen King adaptations in my top 5 of the year? Are the tides turning? Are filmmakers learning how to put his work on the screen?
Oh yeah. The Dark Tower. Maybe not.