Well, 2017 certainly seemed to fly by! And this brings about that time of year again where we contemplate our years viewing and attempt to compile a comprehensive list of our favourite movies. 2017 was a good year for movies, horror especially and, it would seem, a continuation of the sequel and/or remake trend which shows no sign of slowing down as yet. A few of these I really enjoyed and have made it onto my list. This year, although it went quickly, has again been incredibly unkind in regards to horror personalities who have passed away. I remember cursing 2016 for it depriving us of some greats but on reflection I think 2016 was preparing us for the carnage of the following year. I don’t want to seem too over dramatic but the loss of George A Romero hit me quite hard . If that wasn’t bad enough literally days later came the news of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington passing, and it didn’t end there. Over the course of the year the horror community said farewell to way too many of its legends. Grasping at the only positive to come from this is that these great people created or acted in our favourite movies that we will always love, cherish and rewatch for decades to come. So without further ado let’s crack on and see what movies left their mark on my memories in 2017…..
10. COLD MOON (Griff First)
A fantastic 80’s style supernatural horror with a great campy feel. It is the tale of the disappearance of a young girl and her family who are murdered and return to torment their killer. Its not particularly well acted in parts but does feature a small role for Christopher Lloyd. It does however boast a good story line, soundtrack and effects. I feel it should have received a warmer welcome and a more high profile release than it did so it earned a place on my list at least. After all it is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Michael McDowell who also wrote Beetlejuice and some Tales From The Dark side episode’s.
Set years into the future, Secret Agent Neil Stryker is sent to stop his former mentor “The Mad Scientist” from using his time machine to destroy the universe as we know it. The brilliant 80’s props and FX are fantastic especially the Goblin puppets. Its hilarious throughout, mostly toilet humour and cock jokes but who doesn’t like that?! Director Rob Taylor and Co-writer Nic Costa play multiple characters plus it also features Walter Koenig and David Ogden Stiers. It really does need to be watched its purile, relentless and cleverly done. This remains one of the funniest movies I have seen this year!
8. GET OUT (Jordan Peele)
A young black man goes with his white girlfriend into the country to visit her parents for the first time. Though he is welcomed by all he is increasingly aware of the odd behaviour of the households “help” and with further investigation reveals a horrifying truth. Im sure many of you have seen this and loved it and rightly so its incredibly well acted and shot with a great story and an unexpected twist.
7. IT (Andy Muschietti)
The eagerly awaited remake of the 90’s mini series adaptation of Stephen Kings novel. We are all familiar with the story of the group of kids in the town of Derry that band together to overcome the school bullies and an evil spirit that takes on the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown who returns every 27 years to feed on children and their fears. I actually prefer this to the 90’s version (sorry!). Yes, Tim Curry was very creepy as Pennywise but I think that Bill Skarsgards version of him went to a new level of terrifying. The kids in the 2017 version were also far superior in my opinion and made it so much more likable than the original.
6. SPLIT (M Night Shyamalan)
A man diagnosed with multiple personalities kidnaps three girls who desperately try to escape before his final most terrifying personality is unleashed. An absolutely fantastic performance from James McAvoy who changes effortlessly between each personality from the fiercely strict female personality of Patricia to Hedwig a cheeky 9 year old boy and everything in between. A great captivating movie from start to finish.
5. THE BELKO EXPERIMENT (Greg McLean)
This is a Battle Royale-esque idea of a fucked up social experiment based in a high rise office block in Columbia. About 80 of the American employees have had an explosive implant placed at the base of their skull when they first started, fitted under the guise of an identity chip, so if they fail to comply their heads explode! With the threat of rather gruesome immanent death looming they have a simple choice of kill or be killed. Really well written, its fast paced with great effects and a proficient cast. Stand outs for me being John C McGinley (who I love a lot) and John Gallagher Jr.
The long awaited eighth installment of the popular SAW franchise certainly did not disappoint, I for one was delighted that they hadn’t messed with the format. John Kramer is still playing his games through various means with inventive traps, kills and the all important twist. As usual, for something so far along in its sequels as this it is open to endless criticism (and this was seriously bashed) but i thought this one really nailed it and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Its very slick in its direction and production, its everything I wanted and expected in a new SAW movie.
3. BETTER WATCH OUT (Chris Peckover)
A suitably festive installment in which a young lad and his baby sitter are subjected to a terrifying house invasion situation. This is a film that you really can’t go into too much detail about without spoiling it so I’ll just say this, if you haven’t watched it yet then you really need to do so!! Brilliant performances from Levi Miller as Luke and Olivia Dejonge as Ashley. This was one of Horror Channels FrightFest goers favourites at the 2017 festival, and rightly so as its a brilliant mix of mean spirited humour, ingenious plot twists and some well shot kills. Even though some crucial moments are off screen this doesn’t seem to lessen the shock value.
2. THE RITUAL (David Bruckner)
A truly great dread laden, creepy, monster movie about a group of friends who venture to Sweden to build a memorial to a friend they lost. They end up taking a shortcut through the forest where they sense a sinister presence, meet a very odd group of people and a beast that will haunt your dreams for weeks to come after watching this. I saw this when it was at an Odeon cinema Scream Unseen showing and the movie we were all expecting to see was the new Flatliners. Quite frankly I was relieved that it wasn’t Flatliners (which I still haven’t seen) the fact that it was The Ritual was actually a pleasant surprise as I don’t expect any version of Flatliners would have come close to the sheer panic and fear you will experience when watching The Ritual. I really like everything about it, great characters, setting, soundtrack and effects. It has a certain Blair Witch type element to it but I thought they did it very well.
1. THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (Andre Ovredal)
A Father and son team of coroners are given a mystery body to investigate. The body of this young woman seems relatively unharmed but on further inspection as they delve further into the autopsy they discover the extent of the horrors this body has endured. The more bizarre their findings become the more danger they are in as the mysterious Jane Doe’s true identity is discovered. Brilliantly executed with a great score and fantastic on screen relationship between Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch. Filmed almost completely in their basement autopsy room it is cleverly shot with some wonderful anatomically correct graphic depictions of the autopsy itself and truly gripping terror at the presence surrounding the characters. I saw this way back at the beginning of the year in March and ever since then there has been no doubt in my mind that this is the best movie I watched in 2017!!!!!
As well as that list though there were others that I thoroughly enjoyed but just got pipped to the post by the others on my list. You may have also noticed that as a self proclaimed Zombie fanatic the list is annoyingly devoid of zombie movies, this is not through lack of trying but I have to admit that the zombie movies I have seen released this year have not wowed me that much, I have seen some good ones but none I would deem list worthy I’m afraid. This would no doubt have been different if I had been able to watch the highly recommended IT STAINS THE SAND RED that I have heard so many good things about and am desperate to see but alas it was not to be so.
I would just like to mention a couple of zombie comedies that I very much enjoyed though and they are PRESIDENTS DAY (David Zuckerman) (this might actually have been released in 2016 though so my apologies but I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here) and ZBURBS (Greg Zekowski) as both are a lot of fun. Other non-zombie movies I feel need a bit of an honourable mention and are a definite recommend from me are; B&B (Joe Ahearne), FREEHOLD (Dominic Bridges), DEATH POOL (Jared Cohn), CIRCUS KANE (Christopher Ray) and finally BETHANY (James Cullen Bressack).
There were also a few movies out that I watched with high expectations but on viewing I left the cinema feeling rather flat and unimpressed with. A group that I would like to categorize as the “meh” movies of 2017. Now this is my own personal preference so feel free to disagree …
IT COMES AT NIGHT (Troy Edward Shultz)
Not a terrible movie but the trailer was incredibly misleading making it look way more interesting than it was when in fact nothing really happened at all.
ANNABELLE: CREATION (David F Sandberg)
One I enjoyed a fair bit to start off with. I am very freaked out by dolls so found the majority of it suitably creepy but I was not a fan of the ending at all and they should not have followed the girl into her later life.
RAW (Julia Ducournau)
Once again I did enjoy this but it was not at all as gruesome as I was expecting. I think, or rather, I know that I let the media hype of this get the better of me. According to some reports I read people were leaving the cinema in droves to vomit as it was so disgusting. I actually found it rather tame and certainly didn’t notice anyone running off to regurgitate their popcorn when I went to see it, which was a shame.
MOTHER! (Darren Aronofsky)
I basically have to admit that this was not my kind of movie. A lot of it I just did not get but I do have to admit that I don’t think I’ve felt that many different emotions all at once then I did when I saw this! Mostly it was frustration but that then gave way to rather a lot of inappropriate bouts of laugher when I don’t think I should have been (the scene with the new born baby springs instantly to mind!) finally culminating in sheer confusion and disbelief at what the hell I just saw. I feel that it does need to be seen too truly understand what I’m going on about but don’t blame me if you come out the other end of it being highly agitated and none the wiser.
With every great and maybe not so great movies comes a few that you watch and wonder how the hell they made it out into the big wide world. Surely someone in the editing process had realized how unbelievably awful these were and put a stop to them before they made it out but it would seem not. Those of you that have seen the 2 movies I’m about to mention you have my deepest sympathies but hopefully I can stop a few of you from wasting your time on them.
I feel a little bit bad for saying it but they are both directed by the same person and they are; ALIEN REIGN OF MAN and THE 13th FRIDAY (Justin Price) I’m sure he is a lovely, decent bloke but I just cannot and will not bring myself to watch another one of his movies they are just so unbelievably bad in every way, words fail me. Please just avoid at all costs! All negativity aside 2017 was a good year and of course we all have ones we love and some we hate. I haven’t looked too far ahead to see what is in store for us in 2018 in great detail but I am intrigued by Hector Hernandez Vicens DAY OF THE DEAD: BLOODLINES. Yes its another remake and we all know it could go either way but I really want to see it! Plus I think I mentioned this on my piece last year but I’m still eagerly awaiting the release of Chris Sun’s creature feature BOAR. Is it ever going to make it over here? I know it has been released in Australia but will it make it any further? Is it already out and I am just completely unaware? All of these questions and more will be answered by the end of this year, I hope!!
Article by Sarah Budd