2019 was as year that was awfully similar to its most recent astrological brethren, 2018. There were some awfully big, earnest, and well-heeled horror offerings – while at the same time, 2019 served up the weird, the indy, and the quirky in spades!
There were those things that we here at the Scariest Things Podcast desperately wanted to love and cherish (read: Curse of La Llorona), but they turned out to be last week’s warmed over pile of goulash. And of course, we were presented with an extra helping of big budget flavors that often left a vile taste, or worse yet, no real discernable taste in our mouth (read: Pet Sematary).
As we wind down the year and chew on these ghoulish offerings it’s often best to remember not just the good and scrumptious fare, but those films that were new, unique and inventive (read: US and Extraordinary). 2019 really put in a solid performance. Maybe not quite as memorable as 2018, but one that will have me quaking well in to a frightening 2020.
Without further ado, here’s the creepiest happenings from 2019 that pulled in a solid 👻👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
- US: SO. MUCH. Ink has been spilled over this divisive and incendiary horror offering from THE Mr. Jordan Peele. Good. Bad. Indifferent. Some would say it’s all of these things, but I’d say it’s flat out one of the most inventive pieces of cinema to come on the scene in years. Couple it with a one-of-a-kind soundtrack and you’ve got one for the ages. 👻👻👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
2. Extra Ordinary: I laugh. You laugh. We all laugh. Possibly the funniest horror-comedy of all time – yes, you heard that right – Extraordinary deserves a spot at the table with Shaun of the Dead, Young Frankenstein, and Evil Dead II. 👻👻👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
3. Crawl: Big and fun, but never dumb. This chomp-chomp gator romp starts and ends with one heck of a splash. With Sam Rami’s frenetic pacing clearly in the mix, Crawl is the most pleasing horror gateway film of the year. 👻👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
4. The Lodge: 2017 gave us Get Out. 2018 gave us Heriditary. 2019’s dive in to intellectual terror is the Lodge. Just as its forefathers were dark, brooding, thought-provoking, and terrifying, so is this year’s entry into the new age of thinky-horror. Note: thinky-horror is not yet an industry-accepted term, but you heard it hear first. P.S. Watch Extraordinary after the Lodge — not before!👻👻👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
5. Vast of Night: UFOs are real! Well, they might be real. Or, they’re probably imagined. Rather, we’re all crazy and we’re collectively imagining them. Or, maybe, just maybe, they really are real and the space aliens are making us crazy in an attempt to make us believe/not believe that they’re real/not real. All are real possibilities and 2019’s The Vast of the Night lays all of them on the table for us to sort out. 👻👻👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
6. Horror Noire: the conclusions and theories behind the African American horror experience yield a disturbing pattern of repression, racism, and repellent views. This rich and compelling slice of the horror story cannot be told in a single film, though the eyes of a single director, or through a single and powerful bit of acting. The African American horror experience is one that continues to evolve, and bizarrely really hasn’t had its due until the last couple years (Attack the Block, Get Out, Us, etc.). If you do nothing else to celebrate Black History month and African American horror, just park your rump on the couch and take in Horror Noire, or at least another viewing of Ganja and Hess. Both’ll do you good. 👻👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
7. The Hole in the Ground: The new wave of horror cinema is officially upon us all. Gone are the jokey and ham-fisted one liners. Gone are the over-the-top gory pokes in the eye. Gone are the sexually promiscuous teens and their gaggle of poor decisions. Yes, gone are the schlocky VHS-having ways of the 1980s. All these tropes and trends have been dutifully dispatched to the cultural trash bin of yesteryear. As we’re closing in on 2020, we’re now presented with lovingly told stories of deceit and family disfunction. We’re given beautifully shot and well executed cinematography. And horror is now delivered by actors who can…wait for it…ACT. 👻👻👻.5 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
8. Come to Daddy: This year’s Mandy. It’s indy. It’s freaky. It’s horrifying. Less psychedelic for sure, but it’s still one mighty trip. Elijah Wood turns it on inside and out. He’s compelling, terrified, and cute as a button. 👻👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
9. Midsommar: Midsommar is a heck of a film. It’s as dumb as you want it to be, or it’s a hyper-complex rumination on health care, the human condition, and end-of-life decisions. Just maybe, it’s a groovy piece of the highest form of self-indulgence where the editor was afraid to tell the director that the film might have been well-served by leaving 40+ minutes on the cutting room floor. Midsommar is all of these things and more… 👻👻👻 out of 👻👻👻👻👻
10. Mercy Black: Say it ain’t so! A real life ghost story that just might be about real life GHOSTS! Not only is this a solid little flick with a gaggle of ghostly misdirection, it’s also a film that features THE Janeane Garofalo. Sadly, while Ms. Garofalo isn’t in the film too much, her absence is made up by lots and lots of strange and ghoulish apparitions — or not. 👻👻👻.5 out of 👻👻👻👻👻