It is no secret that the horror genre was dominant last year. A famous clown’s return to the silver screen was the most anticipated moment of the year, while a comedian put the genre on-notice early with his explosion into the hearts and minds of critics and fans. And finally… one Philadelphia filmmaker delivered a true return-to-form.
With all of the other horror-specific websites and movie critics publishing their selections, it was time for the Red River Horror team to release their picks. Let the controversy begin!
This was a tough one to call, but I’m going to go with mother! Yes, it was strange and artsy, but isn’t that at the heart of some really great horror? When there are thousands of spooks chasing some ditz with a camera or another group of teens having a boozy sex parade that leads to their death, mother! is this refreshing and thoughtful tale that spirals out of control to one of the most intense endings, leaving those that care to finish it much to talk about. Strong performances, effective cinematography, and a wild story are all I needed to get me away from the expected.
Christopher Sneed is the Director of Programming at the FLY Film Festival in Enid, Oklahoma. While contributing to Red River Horror, he also maintains his own blog at https://adollarshortblog.wordpress.com/.
The bar for horror in 2017 was set very high, very early when Jordan Peele’s directorial debut Get Out hit theaters in February. Ultimately, despite strong pushes from allegorical tales about beleaguered housewives and romantic dramas featuring humanoid fish gods, Peele’s sharp as nails social satire would not relinquish its crown. Instead, the horror newcomer proved that, once again, the genre is so often at its best when it’s forcing us to come face to face with truths we would prefer not to acknowledge.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The Killing of a Sacred Deer defies the usual classification of a horror film with its bizarre plot and execution. Yorgos Lanthimos uses his patented dialogue cadence to make the characters feel like robots, causing the viewer to feel all the emotion as they become dumbfounded by the film’s incredibly depressing nature. Dark, weird, and shockingly funny, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is the most singular movie experience of 2017.
The Shape of Water
My favorite MOVIE of 2017, hands down, was M. Night Shyamalan’s Split. Everything about it was perfect. However, while many have considered it a horror film, I place it among my favorite thrillers. It kept my heart racing but I wouldn’t describe it as being a scary movie. That being said, 2017 offered up quite a diverse collection of horror films. Major box office hits, heart wrenching independent films, films with social commentary, and several sequels (some good, some not-so-good) all come to mind.
But one movie hit all the right spots for me — Andrés Muschietti’s IT. This movie encapsulated everything I love about horror. It brought me back to my childhood, watching Tommy Lee Wallace’s 1990 original with my cousins and covering our eyes during the scary parts, using my dad’s huge Stephen King novels to hold down blanket forts in my living room, and always seeing those two red letters on the cover of King’s 1986 classic and wondering what terrors lay within those pages. I loved the teaser trailers, the sneak peek at Pennywise’s new look, and to top it all off — the movie lived up to the hype. The child actors were stellar and Bill Skarsgård reminded me that I am, in fact, still terrified of clowns.
Melissa Caiazzo is the social media manager and assistant editor of Red River Horror. During the day, she is a pre-school special education teacher. A lifelong musician, Melissa plays flute, piccolo, guitar and piano. Yes…she’s married to Eddie. Pray for her.
For me, a horror film has to be scary. That’s rule number one when determining my “favorites.” It may seem obvious, but some people prefer a funnier tone to their horror films, but I do not. While I am ALWAYS a fan of the slow-burn…it was the relentless terror of Annabelle: Creation that won me over. This film was better than it had any right to be. Unlike the original Annabelle, the 2017 prequel/sequel was suspenseful, creating a constant environment of fear. Nobody in this film was safe, even during the daytime. In a banner year for horror films, the newest creepy doll on the block wins the day in my book.
Eddie Caiazzo is the founder and editor of Red River Horror. He is a television producer and radio producer/broadcaster during the day, voiceover artist by night and a DJ on the weekends. He was born, raised and proudly resides in Philadelphia. Yes…he’s married to Melissa. Pray for her.