Horror has had a tremendous year, especially when it comes to box office success. While horror has always been a healthy, profitable genre of film, the massive box office victories from just Get Out and IT alone have really made the general public take notice. It’s not just the mainstream triumphs of horror that’s worth celebrating, but also the simple fact that 2017 ushered in a ridiculous amount of great horror movies. From major theatrical releases to smaller, independent offerings, 2017 has made it extremely difficult to narrow down the best horror films of the year. Instead, let’s look back at horror’s best moments of the year. Warning; there will be some spoilers, but I’ll keep them out of titles and images so you can skip them. From explosive scenes of brutality or overwhelming surprises of fan service, here are horror’s 10 best moments of 2017:
Split – The Final Scene
After a string of not so well received films, M. Night Shyamalan revitalized his career by teaming up with Blumhouse Productions, a production company with an uncanny ability to take a low budget horror film and make massive profits. This also happened to be the case with Split, released in January, a month known as a sort of wasteland for theatrical releases. Casting James McAvoy as lead antagonist Kevin Wendell Crumb, a disturbed man suffering dissociative identity disorder with 23 distinct personalities, was a stroke of genius. McAvoy’s performance was worth the price of admission. But even if you were feeling lukewarm on the film, it was the final scene after the narrative wrapped that landed one of horror’s biggest surprises of the year: Bruce Willis reprising his role as David Dunn from Unbreakable. Shyamalan just unleashed a secret sequel to his hit from 2000, and none of us knew until the final reel. Brilliant.
Get Out – The Police Lights
There are so many great moments in Jordan Peele’s directorial debut that it’s tough to hone in on just one. The imagery, the symbolism, and the amazing cast made for one of the year’s best films. Catherine Keener’s Missy sending Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris to the Sunken Place was a tough contender, as were any of Betty Gabriel’s scenes as the tortured Georgina. Throughout all of them, the audience remained in enraptured silence, a rarity for the theater-going experience these days. It wasn’t until Chris gained the upper hand over his treacherous girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) that hope deflated the moment the police lights started flashing on the quiet road. That is, until Lil Rel Howery’s Rod emerges, along with the reveal that it wasn’t the police but a TSA patrol car. It was the moment the audience erupted in cheers, receiving the most cathartic ending possible for both viewers and Chris. It wasn’t Peele’s original ending, but I’m so glad this was the one he ultimately went with.
Better Watch Out – Home Aloned
Chris Peckover’s demented Christmas set home invasion film never takes the expected route, a sort of rarity in the sub-genre. In fact, there’s a point in the story where the entire set up, in which teen Ashley babysits 12-year old Luke only to find themselves victims of intruders, is completely yanked out from under the viewer. From there, it gets extremely dark and twisted. While Levi Miller and Olivia DeJonge’s performances as Luke and Ashley, respectively, would warrant them award nominations in any other context, it’s the scene in which the film Home Alone becomes a verb. Spoiler: The scene where Luke tries to demonstrate how Kevin McCallister’s booby trap involving a swinging paint can would really work in real life makes for one of the most shocking, memorably violent scenes of the year.
Cult of Chucky – That Exclusive Blu-ray Post Credit Scene
Don Mancini’s latest in the franchise dropped on Netflix in October, which is likely where most people caught up on what happened to Nica after the events of Curse of Chucky. The Netflix version still offered that fun reunion of sorts, bringing Nica, Chucky, Tiffany, and Andy Barclay together in one bold sequel. But watching it on Netflix meant missing out on a lot of great gore. Most importantly, it meant missing out on one of the biggest surprises of fan service of the year. The post credit scene, offered exclusively for home release, brought one more important franchise character back into the mix; Christine Elise’s Kyle from Child’s Play 2.When things seemed dire for Barclay, Kyle brought a thrilling beacon of light. The continuity is fantastic, but even more exciting is the prospect of seeing more of a beloved character I’d never thought I’d see again. Well done, Mancini.
Victor Crowley – Adam Green Pulls a Fast One
In August, a special anniversary screening was held to celebrate the 10th year of director Adam Green’s slasher Hatchet. The swamp-dwelling killer, played by fan favorite Kane Hodder, met his final end in Hatchet III, where Green announced he’d finished with this particular franchise, much to the dismay of a rather fervent fan base. Yet it was George A. Romero that convinced Green that Crowley wasn’t finished. Somehow, Green managed to pull off an incredibly difficult secret to maintain, working on a new sequel in the series. For the lucky fans that thought they were seeing an anniversary showing of the original Hatchet were the first to lay eyes on Victor Crowley, instead, with the cast and crew in attendance. That no one knew or suspected the sequel was in the works made for one of the best, most memorable moments in horror this year.
IT – Rock Fight
There’s so much that made IT such a monstrous hit at the box office. Bill Skarsgard’s take on Pennywise surely inspired a new generation of coulrophobics, and the various ways in which It terrified its child prey was the stuff of nightmares. What really made Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved novel, though, were the Losers Club and the actors who portrayed them. While Pennywise handled all of the scares, it was the main core of kids that really made you care. So in a film full of standout, chilling scenes, it’s the rock-throwing showdown between Henry Bowers and his bully gang versus the Losers Club. Why? Not only is it ridiculously satisfying to see the group pay Bowers back, but it’s the first time the group becomes whole. It’s not only a major bonding incident, but a crucial practice run for working together to defeat Pennywise.
Annabelle: Creation – Setting up the True Dark Universe
This summer brought a prequel/sequel to less than well-received spinoff of The Conjuring, Annabelle. Luckily, with David F. Sandberg at the helm, this prequel far surpassed its predecessor in terms of quality, story, and scares. Oh, so many scares. As fun and as terrifying as this entry is, it’s the small scene where Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) shows Samuel (Anthony LaPaglia) a photo of her and her fellow nuns at her old convent. Samuel points out a fifth, creepy nun that Sister Charlotte hasn’t seen before. That nun, of course, is the very same one from The Conjuring 2, in a set up for the upcoming spinoff. This small nod is hugely significant, because this is the precise moment where it hits home that The Conjuring universe is the exact Marvel-like equivalent in horror that the Dark Universe was hoping to achieve, starting with The Mummy.
Gerald’s Game – That Cringe-Inducing Scene
Whether you loved or hated the epilogue at the end of Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of the “unfilmable” Stephen King novel, there’s no denying that you’ll ever forget that scene once you see it. There are a number of creepy moments, especially thanks to Carel Struycken’s Moonlight Man. But the scene that steals the entire show is that in which Carla Gugino’s Jesse uses broken glass to cut deep into her wrist, use her own blood to lubricate, and slowly pull her hand free from the handcuffs, skin and all. The slow, excruciating peeling of her skin, in a brutal de-gloving, was enough to cause actual fainting during its premiere at Fantastic Fest, in Austin, TX.
The Devil’s Candy – Jesse Takes Zooey to School
In a year of insane moments of gore and scares, the moment in which Jesse (Ethan Embry) drives his daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco) to school, bonding over metal the entire way, seems like a rather bland scene. It is, and it isn’t. It doesn’t offer much in the way of anything remotely shocking, but it does manage to achieve something that most films don’t bother with much; character development. The relationship between father and daughter in director Sean Byrne’s highly anticipated follow up to The Loved Ones was so relatable and endearing that it made you completely invested in their plight. Jesse and Zooey bonding over a mutual love of heavy metal was affectious, but more importantly, it made the stakes extremely high.
Raw – Bikini Wax from Hell
Julia Ducournau delivered one powerhouse debut with her coming of age cannibal tale. Part body horror, part cannibal horror, and all parts awkward journey into self-discovery, Justine’s first semester in veterinary school is one I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. After breaking her lifelong vegetarianism in a hazing ritual, Justine’s hunger for meat becomes insatiable. But the most memorable moment in her story comes when her older sister Alexia attempts to give her a bikini wax. When the wax gets stuck on Justine’s skin, Alexia wants to try and cut it off with sharp scissors. Justine’s flight or fight kicks in, literally, knocking Alexia over, causing her to accidentally cut off her own finger in the process. Alexia faints at the sight. Justine does the proper thing by calling an ambulance, but then hunger takes over and poor Alexia is left without a finger to reattach at the hospital. It’s twisted and shocking, and handled with a wry sense of humor that makes this scene one for the ages.