The team at That Shelf doesn’t wait around until Halloween to get our scary movie fixes. We celebrate the horror genre all year long. And throughout 2019, we’ve reviewed dozens of horror thrillers, ghost stories, and creature features – some worth revisiting, and others, not so much.
So, if you feel like stepping away from Halloween-season staples like The Exorcist, Halloween, and The Thing, here’s a bunch of 2019 horror flicks that caught our attention.
Lifechanger – Justin McConnell
A murderous shape shifter sets out on a blood-soaked mission to make things right with the woman he loves.
As both a character study and an exercise in low-budget genre filmmaking, Lifechanger finds a smart balance between the ideas it seeks to evoke and the unsettling thrill that horror provides while withholding information from the audience. – Pat Mullen (December 2018)
Rampant – Sung-hoon Kim
A darkness looms over ancient Korea: murderous creatures known as Night Demons have overrun the country. Returning from a long imprisonment abroad, Prince Ganglim discovers that it will take the strength of his entire kingdom to stop the bloody rampage spreading across the nation in this fresh new take on zombie horror from the studios that brought you TRAIN TO BUSAN.
Rampant’s striking costumes and production design elevate the furious set pieces. Nothing beats looking at ravenous hordes of zombies dressed in hanboks while they charge through a palace courtyard. – Victor Stiff (February 2019)
Us – Jordan Peele
A family’s serene beach vacation turns to chaos when their doppelgängers appear and begin to terrorize them.
Even if Us fails to reach the heights achieved by Get Out, Peele has cemented himself as a solid genre director whose future looks exceptionally dark and frightening – in a good way. – Rachel West (March 2019)
Child’s Play – Lars Klevberg
A mother gives her 13-year-old son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature.
It’s cheeky but not irreverent, creepy but not scary, and judgemental but not insightful. Klevberg finds the tonal sweet spot for a slasher flick about a deranged doll but doesn’t elevate the material. But he doesn’t lay down a giant turd, either. Which is high praise by horror remake standards. – Victor Stiff (June 2019)
Midsommar – Ari Aster
A couple travels to Sweden to visit a rural hometown’s fabled mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult.
Midsommar, the follow-up to writer/director Ari Aster’s 2018 debut Hereditary is seven different levels of f#ucked up; a gruelling watch, featuring brutal violence that will even make gore-hounds’ toes curl. Aster makes his case as the next great horror auteur with a folk-horror tale that gleefully bludgeons viewers out of their comfort zones. – Victor Stiff (July 2019)
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – André Øvredal
On Halloween 1968, reclusive Stella and her two friends meet a mysterious drifter, Ramón, and uncover a sinister notebook of stories.
Øvredal has an excellent command of atmosphere and pacing, and he uses those skills to ratchet up the tension and invoke night sweats from his viewers. He crafts several solid setpieces but dials the scare-factor down for children. The target audience may be 12-15-years-old, but this film is scary enough to rattle adults. – Victor Stiff (August 2019)
47 Metres Down: Uncaged – Johannes Roberts
Four teen girls diving in a ruined underwater city quickly learn they’ve entered the territory of the deadliest shark species in the claustrophobic labyrinth of submerged caves.
With a significantly higher body count, effective scares and memorable set pieces, 47 Meter Down: Uncaged is a more-than-worthy sequel that confirms the continuing appeal of Aquatic Horror. Keep these watery scares coming! – Joe Lipsett (August 2019)
It Chapter Two – Andy Muschietti
Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.
– Jason Gorber (September 2019)
Blood Quantum – Jeff Barnaby
The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi’gMaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are strangely immune to the zombie plague.
Blood Quantum is a blood-soaked social commentary about rage, fatherhood, and the scourge of colonialism. But the film never forgets its pulpy genre roots — the story includes an ultra-badass sword-wielding grandpa. – Victor Stiff (September 2019)
The Lighthouse – Robert Eggers
The hypnotic and hallucinatory tale of two lighthouse keepers on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
The [Lighthouse] plants a sinister time bomb deep in your subconscious and then gnaws at you for days. Eggers isn’t satisfied messing with you for 110 minutes, he wants to haunt you for the long haul. – Victor Stiff (October 2019)
Extra Ordinary – Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman
A horror/rom-com hybrid that somehow manages to blend its ingredients without losing their flavor, Extra Ordinary more than lives up to its title.
At times downright silly, the film’s biggest strength lies in its star, Higgins, who deadpans her way through the film’s compact 95 minutes. As the story progresses from the ordinary to the extra ordinary, culminating in absolute hysterical mayhem and satanic rituals, Higgins’ performance holds everything together while Forte unleashes the weird. – Rachel West (October 2019)