Horror News Network’s Ten Best Horror Movies of 2019

by Nick Banks

Welcome to Horror News Network’s Ten Best Horror Movies of 2019, a series where our staff writers offer their top three picks of the year, which are then calculated using the data gathered to compile a ranked ultimate top ten list of 2019.  Each entry below contains excerpts from the staff members who included each film in their personal top three individual picks.  Some of the choices were clear cut, and some ties had to be broken, but what you have before you represents many of the best horror films of the year.

#1: The Lighthouse

“Featuring powerhouse performances by Willem Dafoe (who deserves a Best Actor nomination for this performance) and Robert Pattinson and expertly directed by Robert Eggers, The Lighthouse is classic cinema at its best. Yes, an actual sequel to The Shining came out this year… but The Lighthouse is the true spiritual successor to Kubrick’s cabin fever masterpiece to debut in 2019.” (John Evans)

“Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson (who fans should no longer worrying about donning the famous cowl of The Dark Knight) create an odd, hilarious, and dysfunctional relationship that drives the trippy film until its mind-blowing climax, equal parts The Shinning and Cthulhu wrapped up with a messy seaweed bow.” (Nick Banks)

#2: Midsommar

“Ari Aster’s follow up to the gut wrenching Hereditary proved to be another uncomfortable and devastating film, and effectively avoided “the sophomore slump” that plagues young filmmakers.  Shifting his sights to folklore and pagan ritual, Aster brought horror into the sun with gruesome sights as well as the slow burn (get it?) of a burgeoning trip into madness.” (Nick Banks)

“Writer/director Ari Aster proves with Midsommar that his mind-blowing work on Hereditary wasn’t just beginner’s luck, and Florence Pugh delivers a leading performance worthy of the May Queen’s crown. From it’s beautifully unsettling set design to its intricate costuming and fascinating sense of tradition, Midsommar is truly a cinematic sight to behold!” (John Evans)

#3: Tigers Are Not Afraid

“Every once in a while, a film hits you like a truck and sticks with you; you think about it for days and discuss it with friends and strangers alike. This year, Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid was that film for me… This film has been talked up by Guillermo del Toro for quite some time and it’s easy to see why he loves it; Lopez’s passion and creativity shines through the darkness of the subject matter.” (Larry Dwyer)

#4: Brightburn

“With a backdrop that is dark and brooding, Brightburn is able to mix the psychological scares with the horrific action scenes in a way that doesn’t seem contrived. This movie shows promise of what could provide us what can only be described as a macabre Marvel universe, and with Gunn already set to produce a sequel, horror fans can only hope that we see the same masterful mix of blend humanity and action. What I like most is that the film is that it’s not bloated. With no extra scenes to show random violence for the sake of horror, Brightburn shines bright.” (Christine Caprilozzi)

#5: Pet Sematary

“For me, remakes, or re-adaptations if you will, are a toss-up. I think as long as the new version adds something that was not in the original film then it can work. In the case of Pet Sematary, there was enough brought to the remake to make it a favorite of mine this past year…was well cast with Jason Clarke taking on the lead role of Louis Creed and John Lithgow as his neighbor Jud Crandall.” (Mark McCurley)

#6: Us

“With the enormous success of Get Out, to say the expectations of US were high is an understatement. Peele once again serves up an original, deep storyline with a terrifying and unpredictable fearfest. We see the Wilson family being terrorized by their doppelgangers, which means the cast of US had no choice but to be versatile. Lupita Nyong’o was incredible as Adelaide Wilson. The concept, the dialogue, and of course, the plot twist at the end once again shows Peele as a master of 21st century horror.” (Christine Caprilozzi)

#7: One Cut of the Dead

“One Cut of the Dead was my favorite film of 2019 for a loooong time this year; I first saw it in February and didn’t see Tigers until August, so it stuck in the top spot for six months or so. Most reviewers seem to label this film as a zombie-comedy and include mentions of Shaun of the Dead in their reviews; obviously not a bad film to be compared to but it’s really nothing like that…and I’m not sure if One Cut is even really a zom-com? The problem with discussing a film like One Cut is that it relies so much on surprises. It’s first 35 minutes are a bit confusing (purposefully) but then once the story starts to take shape, its genius begins to shine through and it’s hard not to revel in its manic brilliance.”  (Larry Dwyer)

#8: It: Chapter 2

“I personally loved seeing how the cast who portrayed the children as adults brought out the characters, especially Jessica Chastain as Beverly Marsh. Each had a unique quality that made them perfect casting choices, whether it be their demeanor or appearance all around. It was disappointing to see the film’s box office return was not as successful as the first part, but as a whole the two films set very high records for horror films with September release dates. For me, it was a satisfying conclusion.”  (Mark McCurley)

#9: Ready or Not

“What puts Ready or Not into this list are the performances of its cast. The story is great and it’s really a lot of fun but it’s the over-the-top performances of the “Le Doma” family members that really shine; they’re like a demented version of the cast of Clue and I’d be remiss not to sing the praises of Samara Weaving in the main role; a splendid performance.”  (Larry Dwyer)

#10: Luz

“Newcomer Tillman Singer’s Luz is an impressive first film that many compare to the early work of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci.  Singer’s study of the old masters, combined with  Singer’s very own minimalistic approach (partially artistic choice and partially based on budgetary constraints) results in an atypical possession film that serves as a breath of fresh air for fans of supernatural horror.  The German-language film plays like a film student’s final project (primarily because it is one), yet it outshines many other releases this year from more accomplished directors and filmmakers.  Seeing what Singer can do with little resources is sure to put him on any studio’s short list to direct future horror films.” (Nick Banks)

We hope you enjoyed our list and will seek out some of the films you may have missed this year.  We also hope that this list creates some healthy debate among the fans who love horror films the way that we do!






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