10. The Devil’s Candy
We couldn’t bear to leave The Devil’s Candy out of the Top 10, so we’ve snuck it in despite a draw that follows in ninth place. Australian writer/director Sean Byrne follows up his terrific debut The Loved Ones with this tale of an artist whose paintings become darker in content as a child murderer gets closer to his teen daughter. The horror is made more important because the characters are written so strongly, with fantastic performances by Ethan Embry as heavy-metal fan Jesse Hellman, Kiara Glasco as equally metal-obsessed daughter Zooey, and Shiri Appleby as grounded mother Astrid. The family bond feels true to life, which makes viewers truly invested in these characters. The Devil’s Candy is a dynamite film loaded with eerie imagery, unsettling set pieces, and an explosive soundtrack.
9. Creep 2 / It Comes at Night
Creeping in at number 9 is Creep 2, the follow-up to 2014’s surprise hit Creep. It’s a strong, often inspired sequel, boasting another brilliant performance from Mark Duplass as Aaron (named Josef in the first film). There are undoubtedly some missteps along the way – largely in the characterisation of Sara (Desiree Akhavan) – but Creep 2 shows there is still a lot of potential in Aaron’s story, and fans of the first film will be glad to see the franchise move forward in some interesting directions. You can read our review of Creep 2 here.
Also at number 9 is Trey Edward Shults’ follow-up to his stunning debut Krisha. It Comes at Night is atmospheric and intense, a 90-minute stunner that is impossible to look away from. The film excels thanks to its confident direction and the overwhelmingly impressive simplicity. The film leaves a lot to its audience’s imagination as an undisclosed threat rages outside. The main events follow a family’s difficult decision when a young family begs them for shelter. What unravels is deliciously mysterious and surprising as the film tempts you to uncover its unnerving veil of terror. You can read our review of It Comes at Night here.
8. Super Dark Times
Super Dark Times is a harrowing thriller that combines a coming-of-age story with horror elements. Bullied high-school outsiders Zach (Owen Campbell) and his best friend Josh (Charlie Tahan) see a fun afternoon quickly turn into a tragic, life-changing moment in the early 1990s. Kevin Phillips’ incredible feature-length directorial debut explores how these boys and another acquaintance try to go with the routine of their lives as they try to cover up a shocking secret. Super Dark Times is a chilling motion picture with an ever-present sense of dread, the kind of film that lingers in your thoughts long after you have seen it.
7. A Dark Song
Liam Gavin’s A Dark Song edges past Super Dark Times to nab the seventh spot. Starring Steve Oram as an occultist and Catherine Walker as a grieving mother, A Dark Song is a stunning ritualistic horror that follows the pair as they try to connect to her deceased son. What unfolds is terrifying, showcasing beautifully tragic imagery and boasting a refreshing take on grief, desire and determination. It’s a perfectly woven story that goes to its own super dark places, elegantly walking the tight rope between horror and grace. A Dark Song is an indie gem and a remarkable horror film. You can read our review of A Dark Song here.
Darren Aronofsky’s twisted horror drama Mother! sits in sixth place. Mother! has split audiences and critics alike, but the Scream team have obviously taken a liking to the film’s shocking and horrific chain of events. Mother! follows a couple as uninvited guests start arriving at their home. It’s indescribably horrific in parts and it’s sure to leave you scratching your head in wonder long after it’s finished, but Mother! is certainly one of 2017’s most divisive, creative and unique horror experiences and deserves to be seen.
5. Hounds of Love
While not as gruelling as the rape/revenge/ home invasion films of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Australian writer/director Ben Young’s big screen debut shimmers and disturbs by way of stunning visuals capturing suggested acts of depravity and the surroundings in which they are based, with a magical eye, complex characters and an imperative genre insight. This ‘80s, Christmas and Perth set tale of a sassy teenager kidnapped by a local psycho couple who subject her to physical/psychological torment, enthrals and entertains with a disturbing subject matter. But instead of unsettling through graphic imagery, Hounds of Love’s fear is fashioned via its subversion of stereotypes and by burrowing under the skin of its three main characters to change the way we perceive them.
4. The Ritual
In fourth place is The Ritual. Director David Bruckner’s lads on tour gone Pete Tong jaunt, cleverly subverts subgenre tropes; warping them for a captivating foray into a forest fraught with witchcraft, monsters and scarring psychosis. Based on a novel by Adam Nevill, The Ritual toys with viewers’ expectations for intense, vibrant and frightening fun. Bruckner cut his teeth by co-directing 2007’s The Signal then segments of the excellent Southbound and VHS. The Ritual is his debut feature and a criminally overlooked classic that is sure to bud into a fan favourite. It also signals outsource writer Nevill, whose novel bleeds perfectly into the big screen/ Joe Barton’s screenplay format, as a talent to look out for. This genre savvy masterpiece is crafted with care by three thriving minds who festoon their work with a unique, foreboding wonder. Check out our review here.
Writer and director Julia Ducournau’s debut feature, Raw is a feverishly brilliant portrayal of female sexual awakening couched in cannibalistic curiosity. Garance Marillier plays the shy Justine, a vegetarian vet student following in the footsteps of her feisty older sister, trying to survive the gruesome hazing rituals of her new school while struggling with her strange new urges. Viewings purportedly left some audiences fainting, but don’t let that stop you from having a taste. Weird, erotic, and gruesomely beautiful, this disquieting film lives up to its name—it will leave you feeling raw. Read our review here.
As one of the highest grossing horror films of all time, it’s no surprise to see Andres Muschietti’s (Mama) so high on our list. Narrowly missing out on the top spot is this faithful, scary and moving adaptation of Stephen King’s horror classic It. Starring Bill Skarsgard in the iconic role of Pennywise, he brings a bracing and terrifying monster to the big screen. As well as being a chilling tale of a town tormented by a demonic force, It was also a successful coming-of-age tale about friendship and the lengths you’ll go to protect the ones you love. You can read our review here.
1. Get Out
An unsurprising, but well-deserved horror film nabs our number 1 spot and it is, of course, Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Get Out solidifies why the horror genre is one of the most potent breeding grounds for poignant social commentary. Daniel Kaluuya delivers a superb performance as Chris Washington, hitting every uncomfortable comedic beat in the film’s first half, which only makes the horrific reveal of what’s really going on all the more horrifying. It will make you squirm, it will make you angry and you’ll never look at teacups the same way again. If you somehow missed this one the first time around, do yourself a favour and seek it out at once. Check out our review here.
Words: Daniel Goodwin (@privateutopias), Jessy Williams (@JessyCritical), Joseph Perry (@JosephWPerryJWP), Max Deacon (@_Max_Deacon) and Samantha McLaren (@themeatispeople).