Similar to the two “Strangers” films, “He’s Out There” (2018, now on Netflix) strips the horror genre down to basics and tells a scary story of people in random peril at a remote cabin. It plays the requisite horror notes well, includes one moment that literally made me flinch, and offers a touch of mystery to keep a viewer wondering about the villain’s motivations. And while I wasn’t bored by the film, I knew I had Yvonne Strahovski to look at if the plot ceased to hold my interest.
In our Throwback Thursday series, we’re looking back at movies, TV shows, books or comics that are more than a year old and don’t fit with our regular “flashback” features. Maybe we missed it when it was new, or we want to revisit an old favorite. Basically, we’re reviewing old stuff because we feel like it.
Our year-end countdown lists wrap up with Shaune’s picks for the 10 best movies of 2018:
“Bird Box” (Netflix) is the latest in the trend of apocalyptic thrillers where the end times arrive in a bizarre and sketchily explained fashion, following “It Comes at Night,” “A Quiet Place” and the “Cloverfield” trilogy. It’s easy to call this the visual answer to the audio-based “A Quiet Place.” There, creatures hunt by their sense of hearing; here, the malevolent force invades people’s brains through their visual cortex. It’s the childlike notion of hiding under the covers made into a motion picture: If you can’t see the monster, you’re fine.
The dominant genre of 2018 continued to be superheroes; even with the “X-Men” Universe and DC Extended Universe releasing only one film each, the three Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were impossible to overlook. Still, this was a less blockbustery year than 2017, and by year’s end I had seen at least one really good film in every genre. From a throwback thriller to an arthouse gem, here are my 10 favorite films of 2018.
A lot of movies could benefit from a viewer going in with no knowledge of what they’re about to see, but in the age of previews giving away everything, it’s hard to find an experience like that. Streaming services might be bringing it back though: A synopsis and a still image look intriguing, the service recommends it to you based on your viewing habits, it gets good ratings from others … so maybe you’ll give it a shot. Netflix’s “Cam” benefits from the Mystery Mine Ride approach.
I was so impressed with “The Haunting of Hill House” that I immediately checked out writer-director Mike Flanagan’s previous horror work, which is easy to do in these days of streaming services. Although his IMDB goes back to the turn of the century with student films, Flanagan didn’t enter the mainstream until this decade, when he directed six horror (or horror-adjacent) films. All are worth checking out to see the progression of an emerging genre talent. It’s interesting to look at rankings of Flanagan’s films on the web and see that there’s nowhere near a consensus on the order, but here are my personal rankings:
The “Halloween” saga is infamous for its oddities and mistakes and its tendency to set aside established plot threads. Some of them are well-known, even by casual observers: the fact that “Halloween III” isn’t a Michael Myers film, the way “Halloween 5” reimagines the ending of “Halloween 4” to avoid having a child as a killer, and the three relaunches of the saga in “Halloween H20,” Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and the new “Halloween,” which hit theaters earlier this month.
Although I’ve seen some of the “Halloween” films, I haven’t seen them recently enough to remember them. So this watch/rewatch of the saga marks my first time thinking about them as a movie reviewer. Armed with categories suggested by “Halloween” superfan Michael (Olinger, not Myers), here’s my review of the 10th entry, Rob Zombie’s “Halloween II” (2009).
The fact that “Hereditary” blends family drama with horror elements isn’t original, but there’s something about the balance or the vibe that makes it feel that way. For a good chunk of its two hours, writer-director Ari Aster’s breakthrough film – now available on streaming and home video – is a dark exploration of a dysfunctional family. But there are clues here and there that make a viewer feel on edge, and by the end “Hereditary” is not only a horror film, but a haunting one.