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Arrow in the Head's Top 10 Genre Films of 2017!

Happy to say, 2017 was another very good year for horror films, both mainstream and independent. In fact, in some ways it was a great year for the genre, considering how massively popular titles like GET OUT and IT were. I know every year it seems like some knuckleheads will say, "This was the year horror became popular again!" but honestly, the success of those two movies alone will indeed usher in a flood of thoughtful horror goodies these next few years. If what we can expect is as creepy/funny as GET OUT or sublimely enjoyable as IT, I'll be very happy.

As is now customary, the entire AITH staff contributed to the Top 10 Genre Films list, since it's entirely impossible for each of us to see every single horror movie released during the year. But when we all put our (demented) minds together, we can come up with a positively cracking list of exemplary genre joints. Figuring out the films to include is fairly simple; I ask contributors Jake Dee, Cody Hamman and Mike Sprague for their personal Top 10 lists, then tally which films made the most appearances. (This year, only two films were on all four lists.) I then try to the best of my ability to put them in an order that successfully reflects all of our feelings.

The order may be in dispute, but the overall quality of the films chosen aren't. These are the movies that made the biggest impressions on us. Hope you enjoy our list of the Top 10 Genre Films of 2017 - and be sure to let us know which ones you agree with and which ones we left off!

Runners-Up: 1922, Annabelle: Creation, The Babysitter, Better Watch Out, The Blackcoat's Daughter, Creep 2, Super Dark Times, War for the Planet of the Apes

1. GET OUT

One of only two films to make all of our lists (the other is GERALD'S GAME), GET OUT is one of the rare horror films that horror fanatics, casual fans and mainstream audiences can all agree works like gangbusters. I'm well aware by now that there's a backlash against the film, that plenty of people thought it was overhyped, but all the rest of us can do is shrug and acknowledge it's a shame those folks missed the boat. Having seen the film three or four times now, it actually gets better the more you watch it; the strange behaviors of its odious villains, the increasing panic on our protagonist's face, the way director Jordan Peele meticulously stages both the suspense scenes and the darkly amusing bits. Put aside the chilling social conscience of it for a moment (not easy to do) and simply judge it on how well it moves, how disturbing its ideas are, how much bite the damn thing has, and there's no denying GET OUT is not only a great horror film, but just a great film, period. - Eric Walkuski

2. GERALD'S GAME

Mike Flanagan's adaptation of Stephen King's GERALD'S GAME will go down as one of the few shining examples of a film adaptation of a novel that's better - yes, better - than its source material. Not an easy feat, especially when dealing with the works of Mr. King. But with stunning performances by Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood and a screenplay by Flanagan and Jeff Howard that pulls all of the horrors (and more) from King's book, GERALD'S GAME is one of the best King adaptations of all time. And let's not even get into the raw power contained within the disturbing flashback sequence and any and all scenes featuring the entity known as The Moonlight Man. Speaking of which, the movie contains one shot in particular that will haunt your dreams for years to come. No spoilers. You'll know it the moment you see it. Brr... - Mike Sprague

3. THE SHAPE OF WATER

After the semi-disappointing one-two punch of PACIFIC RIM and CRIMSON PEAK, I was starting to get a touch nervous that Guillermo del Toro was in a rut. Not losing his touch, mind you, but after cranking out such a terrific succession of films from THE DEVIL's BACKBONE to HELLBOY 2, it was just surprising to see the great director making movies that were... less than great. (Of course, I realize PACIFIC and CRIMSON have their devoted fans, no offense meant to you all.) But then THE SHAPE OF WATER came along, slapped me in the heart and assured me I had nothing at all to worry about: the master was back. I watched THE SHAPE OF WATER with what I can only assume was a look of wonder on my face. From the beautiful opening moments to the even more beautiful final scene, del Toro's bittersweet fantasy is simply impeccable in just about every way, from the production design, make-up and cinematography to the stellar performances across the board (Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins better be holding gold on Oscar night, let me tell you). Overseeing it all is a genius in love with his craft, a director who knows exactly which buttons to push and when to push them. - Eric Walkuski

4. IT

I am a massive fan of the novel IT by Stephen King. I am not overstating things here when I tell you that I know the magnum opus word for word. Test me. The fact that I had sky-high expectations for this film and that it actually delivered is some kind of work of magic. Andres Muschietti and his band of super-talented child actors brought out all the best parts of King's novel to give us a film that - while not the scariest movie out there - is one of the best coming-of-age tales since King's own STAND BY ME. Add in Bill Skargard's Pennywise and IT is one for the history books. Bring on Chapter 2! - Mike Sprague

5. RAW

Who does fine dining better than the French? Honestly, the most delectable, evilly epicurean delicacy to hit the cinema in 2017 was undoubtedly Julia Ducournau’s RAW. Indeed, the realistically granular day-to-day depiction of a young vegetarian coed’s cannibalistic evolution is not only one of the most genuinely disturbing cinematic accounts of the year, it’s also one of the all around best made. It starts on the page (also written by Ducournau), carries over to the deft direction of deeply disgusting al dente side-dishes that Ducournau serves up, and of course culminates with the stellar standout screen debut of Garance Marillier as Justine. Not for the rank and file Francophile, young Justine chews and chomps down on fingers, faces, legs, lips, teeth and even her own arm. The biggest surprise on the menu though? In the end, it appears that taste buds are hereditary after all! - Jake Dee

6. A DARK SONG

Usually, a séance sequence in a horror movie will pass by in just a few minutes, but the one being conducted in writer/director Liam Gavin's A DARK SONG is far from typical. Almost the entire 100 minute running time of the film is dedicated to showing the grueling rituals grieving mother Sophia (Catherine Walker) and occultist Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram) perform in hopes of contacting Sophia's late son and the woman's guardian angel, a process that could take them up to eight months. While the deliberate pace ensures that you feel these minutes ticking by, A DARK SONG remains captivating due to the performances of its actors and the lingering question of whether these rituals are accomplishing anything or if Solomon is just putting Sophia through the wringer for his own sick pleasure. Gradually getting stranger and stranger, A DARK SONG ends up feeling like it has taken the viewer on an intense journey. - Cody Hamman

7. HOUNDS OF LOVE

Writer/director Ben Young's first feature HOUNDS OF LOVE deals with subject matter that could have been brought to the screen in a disgusting way: serial killer John White (Stephen Curry) and his wife Evelyn (Emma Booth) abduct a teenager (played by Ashleigh Cummings) with intentions to chain her to a bed in their house in order to rape, brutalize, and eventually kill her. However, Young gets across the devastating horror of the situation without reveling in the details, and his actors - Booth in particular - deliver fascinating performances, bringing to life characters that are each fully fleshed out, complicated human beings. This story could have been trashy and exploitative in the hands of a different creative team, but instead HOUNDS OF LOVE is one of the most well crafted genre films of the year. It's an incredible debut for Young, proving he is definitely a filmmaker to keep an eye on. - Cody Hamman

8. LOGAN

What a triumphantly poignant curtain call LOGAN was for Hugh Jackman. Truly, after spending 17 years playing a single character across the ever-altering landscape of Hollywood filmmaking, director James Mangold showed great heartfelt deference to Wolverine by mounting such a moving, grand culmination of a sendoff in LOGAN. And I think we’d all agree, one of the key reasons why the film works so damn well is by eschewing a typical comic-book movie tableau in favor of a grounded realism. By showing Logan as a multidimensional human being, first and foremost, by pairing down the action in favor of an honest, profound, existential meditation on what it means to be an aging hero, a father figure, a torch-bearing mentee, Mangold has made perhaps the most humanistic superhero movie to date. Jackman’s plaudits for his performance are well deserved, but so too is Patrick Stewart’s devastating turn as the dying, wisdom-imparting Professor X. And we’d be fools not to mention Dafne Keen’s breakout as relentless young Laura, who rounds out the three-tiered generational pathos of the piece. - Jake Dee

9. A CURE FOR WELLNESS

I'll never stop beating the drum for this one. When it was released all the way back in February, I instinctively knew A) This movie would make approximately zero dollars at the box office, and B) it would swiftly develop a cult of devoted fans. And so it has. I'm still amazed 20th Century Fox even gave Gore Verbinski 40 million dollars for his lunatic vision: A 2 hour and 20 minute horror movie about a wellness spa run by a faceless, incestuous mad scientist who uses eels to suck the life out of his patients. Hard to believe they lost money on this one! But I'll be eternally grateful they made the gamble, because A CURE FOR WELLNESS is a large-scale gothic nightmare that harkens back to the days of Hammer Horror and Vincent Price. How can we not be forever thrilled this thing exists?! - Eric Walkuski

10. BLADE RUNNER 2049

In a recent awards season roundtable, I was amused to hear director Denis Villenueve admit that, as such a staunch lifelong fan of Ridley Scott’s original, he became no enraged at the prospect of a potential sequel that he immediately threw is hat in the ring to helm it himself…so that no one else could f*ck it up! It’s that kind of impassioned protectionism that, in conjunction with the peerlessly brilliant use of light, color and shadow by the great cinematographer Roger Deakins, inspired the breathtaking, eye-widening visual marvel that is BLADE RUNNER 2049. Now, many have asserted the film isn’t much more than an epically resplendent spectacle, that it’s too emotionally fallow to be considered great. Poppycock. It’s precisely this state of robotic sobriety that makes such a weird world of androids so compellingly futuristic, at the same time being so frightening to contemplate in the present. Many have lamented Ryan Gosling’s unbroken stoicism in the film, but again, he proves to be the perfect conduit – a blank slate – upon which we can project our own emotions while experiencing the intricacies of the story. - Jake Dee
Tags: Hollywood

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