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Zena Dixon’s Best Horror Films of 2018

As with most other years, the mantra for 2018 was “New Year, New Me”. Who would have imagined that this would also become the mantra for the horror genre? This year, we witnessed new creations like A Quiet Place, and hailed previous creations like Suspiria, reimagined for new and familiar audiences. The Nun, which raked in over $360 million, expanded The Conjuring universe to Romania and showed us the pit to hell. Then Michael Meyers resurfaced in Halloween, older and more bloodthirsty as he walked from door-to-door, kitchen knife out faster than a Cutco salesperson. Even The Predator reinvented himself this year; his refined physique became the epitome of body goals everywhere, at least from the neck down.

While notable big screen releases thrilled audiences worldwide, select theaters and small screen releases also impressed. Many film festivals unveiled the future of horror cinema and the delights the entire world would soon partake in. For example, Book of Monsters showcased a girl whose 18-year-old birthday party turned into a monster killing bloodbath. Not to be outdone, La Quinceañera revealed that a 15-year-old girl’s birthday party could be even bloodier, no otherworldly monsters needed. Still, while I reveled in these birthday bashes, Terrifier revealed that Halloween is still the best time for cutting up, pun intended. I can go on about movies like Truth or Dare or Hereditary, but momma said that too much candy is bad for your teeth. Therefore, I’ll stick with the five delicious 2018 treats below.

VERONICA

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Netflix is expanding and featuring more international delights. Though Veronica was released in Spain in 2017, the rest of the world (including me) enjoyed it this year. In the film, director Paco Plaza introduces us to Veronica (Sandra Escasena), a high school girl who mourns her father’s recent death. During a solar eclipse that the students and staff observe from the school’s rooftop, Veronica and friends Rosa (Angela Fabian) and Diana (Carla Crampa) head to the school’s basement for a Ouija board session. Of course, something makes its way to our realm and refuses to leave.

Honestly, this film made me spill my Froot Loops. You would expect fear to be the cause, but you’d be wrong. Cinematographer Pablo Rosso is a magician with the camera. One shot involves a bed that flips from vertical to horizontal, or at least you think it does. Just watch it. You’d freak out as much as I did. Also, Veronica’s little twin siblings Lucia (Bruna Gonzalez) and Irene (Claudia Placer) stole my heart. You become so entranced with these two and their shenanigans that you fear for them once the demons arrive.

LUZ

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Rain falls from the night sky onto young cabdriver Luz Carrara (Luana Velis), who drags herself into a derelict police station. Meanwhile, Nora (Julia Reidler) seduces police psychiatrist Dr. Rossini (Jan Bluthardt) through a conversation of her old schoolmate with a rebellious past. This results in the transference of the demonic entity, one that longs for Luz. Luz begins to unveil the events leading to her arrival at the police station. But the demon is also making its way to the station as well. I’ve flipped through Webster’s dictionary for two hours, searching for a word that describes Luz. Guess what? Nothing. This film is inexplicable. Seriously. Perhaps I can interpret my love with a dance. Excuse me while I try.

(3 hours later).

Okay. The dance is a mixture between Elvis’s hip thrust, Michael Jackson’s crotch grab, Napoleon Dynamite’s arm wave, and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” march. Do all of this for 70 minutes (the runtime of Luz) and you will have 10% of the awesomeness this film exudes.

SUMMER OF 84

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Directed by the imaginative trio directors known as RKSS (Francois Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissel), Summer of 84 follows four teenage boys who suspect that their neighbor Officer MacKey (Rich Sommer) is a serial killer. As with any youth’s summer, there is a list of trouble to get into. However, spying and gathering evidence on a potential killer who taunts a badge should never be on that list. RKSS delivered Turbo Kid to us in 2015, and the world has been awaiting a sequel ever since.

With that said, the trio surprised me (and I suspect many others) with this departure from the post-apocalyptic world we love. Instead, they returned us to the beloved 80s with iconic VHS tapes and old school Walkie Talkies. I reminisced over the crap I used to get into, and I understood full well that I would’ve attempted to spy on Officer MacKey as well, at least until that first stream of pee snaked down my leg the second I entered his sinister basement. You can always expect this level of tension in RKSS films. Pair that with delicious tunes and unique visuals, and you always have a unique RKSS experience.

UNSANE

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Looking to escape a stalker, Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) moves away from home. But a physical change doesn’t always result in a mental one, so Sawyer makes an appointment at Highland Creek Behavioral Center, where she unknowingly signs a release that commits her to a 24-hour stay. After physical altercations with a patient and a staff member, Dr. Hawthorne extends her confinement seven more days. The story unfolds as Highland Creek Behavioral pulls Sawyer further from comfort and even further from sanity.

With an estimated budget of only $1.5 million, director Steven Soderbergh crafts a visual spectacle that captures audiences. The film taunts and teases the mind; viewers are left at crossroads of real and pretend, with little to no hint of the difference. If you don’t believe me, watch the trailer and try to convince yourself that you aren’t captivated.

PYEWACKET

PYEWACKET - Zena Dixon's Best Horror Films of 2018

Adam McDonald has been a director, writer and actor for a few years now. But this year, he became a genius. In his moviePyewacket, frustrated Leah (Nicole Munez) performs an occult ritual in the woods. Something awakens; something that was merely supposed to kill her mother (Laurie Holden). But when has a demon ever followed instructions.

This low-budget, psychological film is full of teen angst, family grief, and heartwrenching fear. The casting was spot on. Plus, any time I can watch Laurie Holden act is a good time. Furthermore, the talented Lee Malia scores the film in a way you never want it to end.


While I am looking forward to the horror of 2019, I must admit that I am proud of 2018. Even some of the remakes made me proud, which is a feat that is hard to accomplish in my opinion. With that said, please let me know what horrors you enjoyed this year. As you can see from above, we certainly have a lot to talk about.

Written by Zena Dixon

In addition to contributing to Dread Central, Zena Dixon has been writing about all things creepy and horrific for over six years at RealQueenofHorror.com. She has always loved horror films and will soon be known directing her own feature-length horror.

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