I’m going to make a bold statement: 2017 is the best year for horror movies of the 21st Century—and we’ve still got an entire thrill-filled quarter to go. I’ve assembled a list of the absolute best horror offerings of the year so far, and we’ve still got a ton of great stuff coming down the pike; before the year is up, we’ll have also seen Cult of Chucky, Happy Death Day, 1922, Amityville: The Awakening, The Crucifixion, The Shape of Water, Super Dark Times, Jigsaw, Leatherface, My Friend Dahmer, and Tragedy Girls, among many others.
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Below, in no particular order, are my picks for the Top 15 Horror Movies of 2017 (So Far); have a read and let us know what you think in the Comments section. Are your favorite horror movies from 2017 on the list? Which genre offerings are you most looking forward to as we march towards 2018? Let the debates begin!
IT (Directed by Andy Muschietti)
Official Synopsis: Seven young outcasts in Derry, Maine, are about to face their worst nightmare — an ancient, shape-shifting evil that emerges from the sewer every 27 years to prey on the town’s children. Banding together over the course of one horrifying summer, the friends must overcome their own personal fears to battle the murderous, bloodthirsty clown known as Pennywise.
I’ve already gone out on a limb to declaring IT will absolutely top lists of the Best Horror Movies of 2017, but it’s also a contender for best genre offering of the 21st Century (so far). Andy Muschietti’s direction is bold and Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise is instantly iconic. Fans are already chomping at the bit for IT: Chapter 2, scheduled for release on September 6th, 2019.
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47 Meters Down (Directed by Johannes Roberts)
Official Synopsis: Young sisters Kate and Lisa and travel to Mexico for a vacation filled with sun, fun and adventure. Lisa needs some extra persuasion when Kate suggests that they go diving in shark-infested waters. Safe in their protective cage, the thrill-seeking siblings come face to face with a group of majestic great whites. Their worst fears soon become a reality when the cage breaks away from their boat, sending them plummeting to the ocean floor with a dwindling supply of oxygen.
While I agree in general with those who claim 2016’s The Shallows is a more entertaining shark-centric horror, but in my opinion, 47 Meters Down is superior. While it kicks off with a dismissible after-school-special vibe, it descends into a truly terrifying nightmare with way more balls than The Shallows (which is a literal day on the beach by comparison). The twist, semi-fake-out ending irked some fans, but I loved it; I found the conclusion both nihilistic and triumphant.
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Let Me Make You a Martyr (Directed by John Swab and Corey Asraf)
Official Synopsis: Adopted siblings (Sam Quartin, Niko Nicotera) hatch a plot to kill their abusive father (Mark Boone Junior), a local crime boss who won’t go down easily.
Let Me Make You a Martyr got lots of press when it ran the festival circuit in 2016, with many critics praising an ice-cold performance from Marilyn Manson as a sadistic hitman. When it was released on DVD & VOD last January, however, horror enthusiasts weren’t rushing to see it. Yes, it’s a depressing descent into violence featuring sexual abuse and incest, but there’s much more going on in this film than you first realize; it becomes a metaphysical conundrum you won’t soon forget. You can see it now on Shudder.
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Get Out (Directed by Jordan Peele)
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 never could have imagined.
Get Out, the debut film from Jordan Peele is the third top-grossing R-Rated horror movie of all time. It’s also garnering Oscar buzz, something almost unheard of in our beloved genre. Peele’s film succeeds in no small part because of its powerful mix of suspense, mystery, and social relevance. Get Out is the top dog of the Blumhouse trifecta that includes Split and The Belkpo Experiment.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Directed by Oz Perkins)
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.
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Gerald’s Game (Directed by Mike Flanagan)
Official Synopsis: While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.
This is definitely the Year of Stephen King, with both IT and Gerald’s Game (both based on the author’s works) on my list of The Best (So Far)—and we’ve still got 1922 coming down the pike! Though long considered impossible to adapt, Mike Flanagan proves himself a director of rare talents and vision, bringing this difficult story to life but poignance and brutality. Gerald’s Game is now available via Netflix.
Raw (Directed by Julia Ducournau)
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.
This 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.
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The Void (Directed by Steven Kostanski and Jeremy Gillespie)
Official Synopsis: Cloaked, cult-like figures trap a police officer (Aaron Poole), patients and staffers inside a hospital that is a gateway to evil.
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.
Prevenge (Directed by Alice Lowe)
Official Synopsis: Widow Ruth is seven months pregnant when, believing herself to be guided by her unborn baby, she embarks on a homicidal rampage, dispatching anyone who stands in her way.
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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mother! (Directed by Darren Aronofsky)
Official Synopsis: A couple’s relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence. From filmmaker Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream), mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer in this riveting psychological thriller about love, devotion and sacrifice.
I only gave mother! 3 out of 5 stars in my initial review, but I’ll be damned if that film hasn’t stuck with me! Since first viewing the film, I find myself thinking back on it almost daily, coming up with new hypotheses and making new connections. The film is absolutely frustrating, but I marvel at the way different viewers come away with completely unique interpretations of mother! To me, it was about an artist who kills his muse; others have seen statements regarding global warming, Donald Trump’s American, and female submission. mother! is a reminder that great art isn’t always easy to digest.
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The Devil’s Candy (Directed by Sean Byrne)
Official Synopsis: A struggling painter is possessed by satanic forces after he and his family move into their dream home.
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.
Annabelle: Creation (Directed by David F. Sandberg)
Official Synopsis: Former toy maker Sam Mullins and his wife, Esther, are happy to welcome a nun and six orphaned girls into their California farmhouse. Years earlier, the couple’s 7-year-old daughter Annabelle died in a tragic car accident. Terror soon strikes when one child sneaks into a forbidden room and finds a seemingly innocent doll that appears to have a life of its own.
Annabelle: Creation is worlds better than its predecessor, and the best film in The Conjuring franchise since the original was released in 2012. Direct allusions to The Nun, another Conjuring spin-off arriving in 2018, makes for an ever-expanding universe of terror.
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A Dark Song (Directed by Liam Gavin)
Official Synopsis: A young woman and a damaged occultist risk their souls to perform a ritual.
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.
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Jeepers Creepers 3 (Directed by Victor Salva)
Official Synopsis: Taking place on the last day of the Creeper’s twenty-three-day feeding frenzy, as the skeptical Sargent Tubbs teams up with a task force hellbent on destroying the Creeper for good. The Creeper fights back in gory glory as its enemies grow closer than ever before to learning the secret of its dark origins.
Jeepers Creepers 3 is a hit, but fans who have waited more than a decade to see it might suffer from too-high expectations. Still, it’s a solid sequel and entertaining as hell. Hints at the Creeper’s origins are compelling, and everything looks fantastic. It’s horror bubble gum that’s easy to consume and fun to partake in. I enjoyed The Creeper’s sleek new look and the cast of fresh faces.
[For a summary of writer/director Victor Salva’s criminal past and why many horror fans are choosing to boycott Jeepers Creepers 3, follow the link embedded in this article. We are also including a link to a statement from Nathan Forrest Winters, Salva’s abuse survivor. We support everyone who chooses to boycott this film but will continue to bring interested readers unbiased reporting.]
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The Glass Coffin (Directed by Haritz Zubillaga)
Official Synopsis: A maniac traps an actress in a limousine, feeding her commands through a distorted speaker. She must comply with his deranged demands if she ever wants to leave the limo again.
Currently making the rounds on festival circuit, The Glass Coffin is something horror fans will definitely want to keep their eyes peeled for. It brings all the terror of a massive slasher into the tight confines of a limousine, and the combination of high stakes and claustrophobia is almost maddening. The film keeps its viewers in suspense for ages, so don’t forget to breathe!