1. A Quiet Place – It should come as no surprise that A Quiet Place landed atop many Best of 2018 lists. The surprise hit film from director/star John Krasinski was initially meant to serve as a Cloverfield sequel, but the people behind the curtain (so to speak) knew this project could be so much more. To watch A Quiet Place in a sold-out theater on opening weekend was an experience this reviewer has never experienced. The entire crowd participated with the film itself, challenging themselves to stay quiet at all costs. As my wife went to take a bite of her pretzel snacks mid-movie, you could hear the one-crunch silence that led to a self-conscience moviegoer that realized every sound she made, could be her last! Well acted, well paced, and loaded with terrors. A Quiet Place just was (for this reviewer) the best genre title released of 2018.
2. Mandy - I don't even know why I love this movie so much. Nic Cage is bat-shit. We know. But when his type of bat-shit lands in the right movie (in this case, from director Panos Cosmatos)? Brilliance occurs. Anyone who attempts to watch Mandy should be prepared to continually say "What the hell am I watching?," as the plot ticks on, the characters undergo a journey through genre shifts and tonal record-skips that keeps making you question ... is this art house? Is this Rob Zombie-inspired? Clive Barker inspired? Is it a beautiful journey about love, or a revenge movie on ritalin? And what the hell is the Cheddar Goblin, and why am I so fascinated with him? (Now streaming on Shudder.)
3. Hold the Dark - Netflix was lucky enough to host the latest film from Jeremy Saulnier (director; Green Room) and Macon Blair (writer; I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore) ... Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) stars as a writer who comes to the aid of a grieving Alaskan mother whose son was killed by wolves. She asked the man to track down and kill the wolves who took the boy's life - as the additional challenge of witnessing the boy's father returns from war and unraveling a horror that goes well beyond nature's natural brutality.
4. Revenge - This movie pretty much lives up to its title. Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz stars as a young woman who is stranger in the middle of nowhere with three men who ... well. It doesn't end well for the blonde beauty. Left for dead, she sets her mind on revenge (surprise). What follows is a gnarly cat and mouse game of tag that is unflinching, often fun, and completely mesmerizing. It's one of the better revenge films in years - hands down! (I have a nerdy "fan-fiction" theory that this film could have been titled The Crow: Revenge and would have captured a larger audience.)
5. Upgrade - Leigh Whannell delivers an action/sci-fi/thriller (and many have also dubbed it horror ... after all, it's from Blumhouse - natch) about a man who is paralyzed and is given special tech that allows him to walk and function like a normal human once again. That tech, however, also makes him uber deadly, and he uses it to assist in seeking revenge against those who wronged him. The Black Mirror-esque plot is loaded with twists and turns, and the star, Logan Marshall-Green, is a delight to watch.
7. The Body - (Available on Hulu)
8. Mom and Dad
10. Summer of '84
Special Mentions: The House That Jack Built, Cam, Blood Fest, Annihilation, I Kill Giants ...