Get Out (2017, Jordan Peele)
2016 was such a total dud for horror movies, but this year has at least gotten off to a strong start. Get Out is The Little Horror Film That Could, breaking into the mainstream whilst still satisfying the horror hardcore, a tight and unexpected thriller that deftly mixes horror and comedy in a way I’ve not seen for a while.
It’s not a film I think I’ll have the urge to revisit anytime soon, but I left the cinema satisfied, which is more than I can say for pretty much any horror film I saw in the cinema last year.
Kong: Skull Island (2017, Jordan Vogt-Roberts)
Another pleasant surprise was Kong: Skull Island. The original King Kong was one of the first horror films I ever saw aged about 4 or 5, and I’ve still never seen the second half of Peter Jackson’s laborious remake (my girlfriend at the time got too upset when Kong was captured and left the cinema in tears, with me dutifully following after her), but none of that matters because this is a reboot with both hairy feet firmly planted in the monster movie genre.
A major complaint is that there are briefly some giant spiders, but then they’re gone for the rest of the film. What gives? Don’t tease me with giant spiders and then take them away from me – that’s just cruel.
Kong won’t change your life or anything, but it was a good, fun monster romp that runs over an hour shorter than the bloated 2005 version, and that is something to be celebrated.
Raw (2017, Julia Ducournau)
Raw, not to be confused with Eddie Murphy’s stand up film Raw (although it would make an interesting and ultimately pointless double bill) is the new French horror that people are talking about because it made wimp some vomit in a screening or something.
It’s a surprisingly tender and blackly comic coming-of-age story that just happens to be about cannibalism. The style hews closer to arthouse horror like Goodnight, Mommy and The VVitch, though unlike those flaccid bores the horror hits hard, though there’s nothing much here to turn the stomach of the average horror-goer.
Garance Marillier is a revelation in the lead role in a film that is equally funny, frightening and erotic. Inexplicably, this French language art movie played in my local multiplex in the biggest screen, the one usually reserved for Marvel movies. Naive hopefulness or administrative error? You be the judge.
The Void (2017, Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski)
From the crackpots that brought you the insane Manborg and the even more insane Father’s Day comes The Void, a glorious practical effects laden throwback to the heyday of John Carpenter. It’s The Thing meets Assault on Precinct 13 meets Prince of Darkness, and is almost as much fun as that sounds.
I have a soft spot for any film that depicts a vision of Hell (yes Event Horizon, even you) and The Void nails it, even throwing in an homage to The Beyond that both annoyed and thrilled me.
It lacks the humour of the director’s previous films, but is right up there with Raw as the best film I’ve seen so far this year. That said, there’s still plenty of good stuff to come – The Love Witch, The Belko Experiment, IT – so hopefully there’ll be at least one stone cold classic amongst the bunch.
That’s not too much to ask, is it?