The first half of 2017 is officially in the rearview mirror, and the horror landscape has changed a lot since the last time we took stock. Back in March, we released a list of the Best Horror Movies of the years so far; three months later, however, films no longer in contention for Best of 2017 are: The Girl with All the Gifts, The Evil Within, The Belko Experiment, Split, Galaxy of Horror, and Kong: Skull Island (although they all still come highly recommended, and some may make the Top 10 in a final, year-end evaluation). To find out what makes these films excellent, follow the link below.
Related Article: The Best Horror Movies of 2017 So Far
The films rising to the top of the pack are, for the most part, serious explorations of primal terrors; gut-wrenching & emotionally devastating movies anchored by genuine human drama. Of course, many of the most hotly anticipated films of the year are still to come; before the year is up, horror fans will have seen Wish Upon, Polaroid, The Dark Tower, IT, Leatherface, Cult of Chucky, Jigsaw, Annabelle: Creation, Flatliners, Happy Death Day, Death House, Jeepers Creepers 3, and God Particle. While some will surely disappoint, having so many genre films to look forward to makes us feel like kids again.
Have a read and let us know if you agree with our choices for the Top 10 Horror Movies of 2017 so far. Do you have a favorite horror movie from 2017 that didn’t make the list? Let’s discuss!
Get Out (Directed by Jordan Peele)
Release Date: 24 February 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could never have imagined.
Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is still the film to beat in 2017. Amazingly, the movie’s even getting Oscar buzz, something almost unheard of for horror movies. Get Out proved there’s a market for intelligent, socially relevant genre films; hopefully, this trend will continue for years to come.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Directed by Oz Perkins
Release Date: 16 February 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: During the dead of winter, a troubled young woman (Emma Roberts) embarks on a mysterious journey to an isolated prep school where two stranded students (Kiernan Shipka, Lucy Boynton) face a sinister threat from an unseen evil force.
Of all the horror movies I’ve seen so far this year, none have gotten under my skin quite like The Blackcoat’s Daughter, a beautiful and tragic exploration of obsession and madness. It’s the convergence of two parallel stories that, at first, seem only tangentially related which really propels the plot of the film and contributes to its devastating conclusion.
The Devil’s Candy (Directed by Sean Byrne)
Release Date: 17 March 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: A struggling painter is possessed by satanic forces after he and his young family move into their dream home in rural Texas, in this creepily haunted-house tale from Australian writer-director Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones).
The Devil’s Candy is a potent stalker horror with satanic undertones, but it’s also a brilliant metaphor for how the relentless pursuit of art can kill families. The artist’s inability to separate himself from his canvas, even to the detriment of those closest to him, is given the same terrifying implications as demonic possession.
Dig Two Graves (Directed by Hunter Adams)
Release Date: 24 March 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: After 13-year-old Jacqueline Mather (Samantha Isler) loses her brother in a mysterious drowning accident, she is soon visited by three moonshiners who offer to bring him back to life, but at a grim cost. As the dark history of her grandfather, Sheriff Waterhouse, is unearthed, the true intentions of the moonshiners come to light.
While light on visceral horror, Dig Two Grave will appeal to fans of Stand By Me and The Lovely Bone; it has a literary depth, a retro feel, and themes that tap into something universal and primal. The film’s a testament to man’s inability to outrun his past with the kind of magical realism one might expect from Guillermo del Toro. More than terror, Dig Two Graves has heart—and impact.
It Comes at Night (Directed by Trey Edward Shults)
Release Date: 9 June 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous order a man (Joel Edgerton) has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within the man as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.
With the kind of brutal nihilism rarely attempted by American filmmakers and enough tension and suspense to turn slow burn into an inferno, It Comes at Night will rattle its audience. It’s a stripped down yet completely convincing apocalypse horror where terror lurks in every shadow. Harrowing and emotionally crippling, It Comes at Night will hurt your heart and haunt your dreams.
The Void (Directed by Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski)
Release Date: 7 April 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: In the middle of a routine patrol, Officer Daniel Carter happens upon a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. He rushes the young man to a nearby rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, only to discover that patients and personnel are transforming into something inhuman. As the horror intensifies, Carter leads the other survivors on a hellish voyage into the subterranean depths of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare before it’s too late.
A love letter to practice FX and an homage to 1980s era horror ala Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator and John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Void is completely unnerving, overflowing with suspense, and utterly Hellraising. Like the other films on this list, The Void succeeds in no small part because of the human drama at its core, specifically a relationship that failed after the death of a child juxtaposed against the untimely arrival of a new baby.
Raw (Directed by Julia Ducournau)
Release Date: 10 March 2017
Official Synopsis: Stringent vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) encounters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world during her first week at veterinary school. Desperate to fit in, she strays from her principles and eats raw meat for the first time. The young woman soon experiences terrible and unexpected consequences as her true self begins to emerge.
Watch out Get Out; Raw is hot on your heels in terms of competition for the best horror movie for 2017. The unflinching body horror is just as grotesque as you probably heard, but it’s the coming of age story (and the relationship between sisters) that makes Raw truly engrossing, compelling, and unforgettable.
A Dark Song (Directed by Liam Gavin)
Release Date: 28 April 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: An unholy alliance between two damaged souls leads them on a disturbing descent into the depraved realms of black magic. Sophia (Catherine Walker) is a grieving and desperate woman with a secret. Joseph (SIGHTSEERS’ Steve Oram) is an anti-social, alcoholic expert in the occult who reluctantly agrees to help her. Holed up in a remote cabin amidst the desolate wilds of Northern Wales, the two embark on a grueling series of dark rituals that will push them both to the physical and psychological breaking point.
Most horror movies involving séances and supernatural invocations produce instant results, which is certainly not the case in A Dark Song. An occult ritual designed to give a broken woman her heart’s darkest desire binds two tortured souls through months-long exercises in meditation, introspection, and anguish. The ending is cathartic, mind-bending, and absolutely unforgettable; A Dark Song is often difficult to endure, but there a tenderness to it that’s genuinely heartwarming.
I Don’t Feel at Home in the World Anymore (Directed by Macon Blair)
Release Date: 24 February 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: When a depressed woman is burglarized, she finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves alongside her obnoxious neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals.
Those quick to complain by denying I Don’t Feel at Home in the World Anymore qualifies as a horror movie need to jump in a lake; seriously. There’s plenty of unflinching violence, not to mention a brilliant supporting turn by Jane Levy as a completely adorable and unhinged heister, to keep aficionados pleased as punch. Fans of deadpan humor will be in heaven; those who revel in revealing expositions on life’s ridiculousness will swoon. Horror fans with intelligence and heart will have a blast, even if it doesn’t feel like a genre flick until the 3rd Act. Give it a whirl; you won’t regret it.
Prevenge (Directed by Alice Lowe)
Release Date: 24 March 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: Follows Ruth, a pregnant woman on a killing spree. It’s her misanthropic unborn baby dictating Ruth’s actions, holding society responsible for the absence of a father. The child speaks to Ruth from the womb, coaching her to lure and ultimately kill her unsuspecting victims. Struggling with her conscience, loneliness, and a strange strain of prepartum madness, Ruth must ultimately choose between redemption and destruction at the moment of motherhood.
Prevenge is a horror comedy on the surface, but this is a laugh now, cry later experience. A metaphor for the hijacking of the female body by a fetus, pregnancy is a jumping-off point for a larger exploration of karma, vengeance, and grief. Written, directed, and starring Alice Lowe (the star/writer of Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers) shines in every respect.
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Life (Directed by Daniel Espinosa)
Release Date: 24 March 2017 (USA)
Official Synopsis: Astronauts (Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds) aboard the International Space Station are on the cutting edge of one of the most important discoveries in human history: the first evidence of extraterrestrial life on Mars. As members of the crew conduct their research, the rapidly evolving life-form proves far more intelligent and terrifying than anyone could have imagined.
I was so focused on the release of Alien: Covenant, I barely gave Life a second thought when it was released theatrically in March. It was only after my extreme disappointment with Ridley Scott’s Alien-prequel/Prometheus-sequel that I gave Life a spin when it arrived on DVD. It’s not straight-up horror, and the alien is a CGI blob that’s ultimately too pretty to be scary, but Life had the tension, pacing, and claustrophobia Scott’s Covenant missed completely. If Alien: Covenant left you unsatisfied, Life may be just what you need to fill that hole.