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.
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.
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:
Lars von Trier’s latest film, The House That Jack Built premiered this week at Cannes to polarizing reactions (to put it mildly). It’s a film that follows the development of a serial killer and the five murders (all women) that have defined who he is. Why? Because it’s von Trier and he wants to cause a reaction. But, a film about the murder and mutilation of women in name of a man’s development is not what we need right now. What we need is Coralie Fargeat’s debut film, Revenge. Fargeat’s stylish and gory film confronts how we view exploitation films in a time where we need it most.
Revenge opens with Richard (Kevin Janssens) arriving to a desert oasis with his girlfriend, Jen (Matilda Lutz). She is presented as the perfect woman and sex object: tan, blonde, skinny, perfectly manicured nails, and legs for days. She’s even seductively sucking a lollipop. Then, Richard’s friends show up. These friends drool over Jen, ogling her up and down, and giggling whenever she acknowledges them. However, they take this acknowledgment as sexual advances and when they’re turned down, Stan (Vincent Colombe) rapes her. Instead of the boyfriend coming to her defense, he tries to silence her. But once Jen threatens to call his wife and tell her about his infidelity, Richard pushes her off a cliff. A bit of an overreaction, but to these men, Jen is as disposable as a paper cup. They’re in for a big surprise. What comes next is an hour and a half full of bloody, disgusting, and satisfying revenge.