Badass Women, Stunning Visuals, and Subverting Expectations: Looking Back at This Year in Horror

2018 was a year of amazing horror films. While a certain Vogue article may disagree, 2018 was a year for pushing boundaries in the genre and creating complex female characters who weren’t just vehicles for over-the-top sex scenes. It was a year where “woman” no longer meant singular sex object, with films like Revenge, What Keeps You Alive, and Cam. It was a year of experimentation, as seen in Mandy and Possum, which create unique, and psychedelic, visual experiences. While the past five years have been full of this kind of boundary-pushing, from The VVItch to Get Out, 2018 continued to showcase the diverse voices in the horror community and demonstrate how the face of horror is changing.

While this piece will primarily highlight the positives of horror in 2018, this was not a year without its failures. The Nun, Truth or Dare, Winchester and more made up this year’s big blockbuster releases, and all were met with a resounding shrug; these movies made to draw the big crowds to the box office instead kept the horny teens away. The two horror films that drew crowds this year were A Quiet Place and Hereditary, two films that strayed away from the typical horror narrative and created unique stories that perhaps wouldn’t always make their way into the mainstream. Despite the bigger name flops, indie horror filmmakers really showed up to create pieces of horrifying media that resonated both throughout the horror community, and in some cases larger audiences.

Redefining Genres

Rape-revenge films are commonly exploitative, over-the-top, and torturous to their female characters. Think of films such as I Spit on Your Grave or Ms. 45. But, director Coralie Fargaet wanted to change this with Revenge, a film in the vein of the French New Extremity that uses rape as more than a plot device or site of spectacle.

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Best Films of 2018

2018 has been a wild year for film, from wildly entertaining sequels (see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again and Paddington 2) to Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest in dry, yet tragic, humor to a horror film featuring tongue clicking, a nut allergy, and dead pigeons. It has been year for powerful women, both in front of and behind the camera, from the women of Annihilation to Crystal Moselle and her look into the world of women skateboarders. It has been a year to interrogate representations of masculinity, from Joe in You Were Never Really Here to Reverend Toller in First Reformed. It has been a year of terror, love, laughter, and exhaustion, both literally and cinematically. The films of 2018 truly captured the strange and turbulent atmosphere that has thrown us all into a state of near-constant anxiety.

The Much Ado team has relished in this anxiety, seeing many of 2018’s best, and worst films with the help of film festivals such as Cannes, NYFF, and BFI, MoviePass (RIP), and AMC Stubs A-List. After much deliberation, Letterboxd rankings, and last-minute trips to the cinema, we present Much Ado’s top 25 films of the year.

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Much Ado’s Best Films of 2018 (So Far)

We may only be halfway through the year, but there have already been plenty of great movies to sink our teeth into. From slow-burn indie darlings to crowd-pleasing blockbusters, the past six months have provided something for all tastes, proving that we don’t have to be mid-awards season to experience great cinema. Check out the following 15 films that we think are the best of the best:

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‘Annihilation’ is a Nightmarishly Beautiful Entry to the Modern Sci-Fi Renaissance

Alex Garland is a science fiction writer that has a lot to say about humanity. His 2014 debut film Ex Machina followed a programmer studying a big name CEO’s invention of artificial intelligence, evolved into a complex study of what defines a “human.” The film was an exceptionally directed dive into the ideas of ego, gender roles, sexuality, and autonomy. His follow up feature, Annihilation, walks a different path from Ex Machina in scale. In his sophomore film, Garland shifts his style from a one-location thriller to a spectacle-filled journey through different environments. But Garland does not abandon his core philosophies, he develops them. Horrific yet gorgeous, Annihilation evokes the same feelings of previous science fiction films, but delivers a wildly original, personal, and experimental look into human themes.

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From left to right: Natalie Portman as Lena, Tessa Thompson as Josie Radek, and Gina Rodriguez as Anya Thorensen holding the alligator.

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Most Anticipated Films of 2018

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2017 was a crazy, whirlwind of a year for cinema, with great films that left us on the edge of our seats like Get Out and Dunkirk, but now it’s time to start thinking about the countless films we can’t wait to see in 2018. Especially as the 2018 Sundance Festival comes to an end, we can’t help to think 2018 could be another great year for film. Ranging from small, independent films to major Disney blockbusters, here are some of the films our staff desperately anticipating.

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