The 5 Most Polarizing Horror Films of 2017 - Bloody Disgusting
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The 5 Most Polarizing Horror Films of 2017

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*Keep up with our ongoing end of the year coverage here*


No one said all movies had to be easy to watch. 2017 was a landmark year for the horror genre, filled with critical darlings (Get Out, It, Gerald’s Game, Raw) and box office winners (ItGet Out, Split, Annabelle: Creation). There were a handful of films, however, that proved to be more controversial. Loved by some and loathed by many (or vice versa), these films were truly love-it-or-hate-it experiences. In no particular order, these are the 5 most polarizing horror films of 2017. 

1. It Comes at Night

Plot  Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man (Joel Edgerton) has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife (Carmen Ejogo) and son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Then a desperate young family (Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough and Griffin Robert Faulkner) arrives seeking refuge.

CinemaScore – D

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 88%

MetaCritic Score – 78

Production Budget – $2,400,000

Box Office (Domestic) – $13,985,117

Box Office (Foreign) – $5,295,814

What Made It So Polarizing? – This is a classic case of mis-marketing. It Comes at Night was advertised as a horror movie about people locked in a house so as to protect themselves from whatever it is that comes at night. The movie is actually a slow burn paranoia drama with horror elements. If your movie title tells people that something comes at night and then the movie doesn’t tell you what that is, it’s not going to go over well. Of course, the “it” of the title is up to interpretation, but it isn’t a physical entity. It Comes at Night is essentially an arthouse film that was marketed as a mainstream horror film, and people felt cheated when they walked out of the theater. Make no mistake: it is a great film, but make sure you go in with your expectations in check.


2. mother!

Plot – Darren Aronofsky’s film follows a young woman (Jennifer Lawrence) whose tranquil life with her husband (Javier Bardem) at their country home is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious couple (Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris). Their personal family drama spills over into the house leading to the death of their son (Brian Gleeson) and a memorial service held at their house. After the guests leave, the couple who own the house end up at the center of a cult that turns their home into a warzone.

CinemaScore  – F

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 68%

MetaCritic Score – 74

Production Budget – $30,000,000

Box Office (Domestic) – $17,800,004

Box Office (Foreign) – $26,716,995

What Made It So Polarizing? – Much like It Comes at Night, Darren Aronofsky’s mother! was marketed as a home invasion-type horror film. Add to that the star power of Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer (who is on a roll this year) and Ed Harris, and you’ve got a major box office draw of a film. Unfortunately, mother! is not an easy film to watch so extremely negative word of mouth caused the film to flop (domestically, anyway). While many of the events that take place in the film are horrifying, it’s not your average horror film. Essentially an allegory for the Bible (this is my favorite interpretation of the film’s plot), mother! is a film filled with random occurrences that Aronofsky offers no explanation for. Of course, if you buy into the aforementioned allegory then it all makes sense, but it appears that many viewers still weren’t fond of the film (hence that F CinemaScore). The final 20 minutes are filled to the brim with such grotesque imagery and brutal violence that many viewers expecting a more straightforward horror film may have found a bit too disturbing. Is it genius? Or is it pretentious dreck? That is up for you to decide, but there is no right or wrong answer.


3. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Plot – A cardiac surgeon (Colin Farrell) secretly befriends a teenage boy (Barry Keoghan). He introduces the boy to his family (Nicole Kidman, Raffey Cassiddy and Sunny Suljic), who then fall mysteriously ill. The boy reveals that this is revenge for the doctor killing his father on the operating table three years earlier and it will only end with the death of a family member, a decision he must make.

CinemaScore – N/A

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 79%

MetaCritic Score – 73

Production Budget – N/A

Box Office (Domestic) – $2,141,430 (as of November 30, 2017)

Box Office (Foreign) – N/A

What Made It So Polarizing? – Probably the film’s lack of explanation and the overall surreality of the film. The world in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a peculiar one. The way the characters talk and react to things lead you to believe that this isn’t the “real” world, but rather one of Lanthimos’ design. This is apparently a trait from all of his films (The Killing of a Sacred Deer was my introduction to Lanthimos, so I can’t say for sure), but if you don’t know that going in then you may be taken aback. Also, no explanation is given for the seemingly supernatural events in the film. Things just…..happen. As mentioned above, audiences want to know why things are happening. If you don’t give them that, they will walk out frustrated. The film is splitting audiences right down the middle (even us at Bloody Disgusting were divided, as evidenced by my glowing review and Benedict Seal’s scathing one), but one thing it also does is demand discussion. Whether you love it or hate it, you will want to talk about it the second you walk out of the theater.


4. We Are the Flesh

Plot – After wandering a ruined city for years in search of food and shelter, two siblings (Mariía Evoli and Diego Gamaliel) find their way into one of the last remaining buildings. Inside, they find a man (Noé Hernández) who will make them a dangerous offer to survive the outside world.

CinemaScore – N/A

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 75%

MetaCritic Score – 62

Production Budget – N/A

Box Office (Domestic) – $8,438

Box Office (Foreign) – N/A

What Made It So Polarizing? – Besides the fact that it’s basically porn, Emiliano Rocha Minter’s debut feature We Are the Flesh (review) is quite possibly the most difficult film to digest this year. The film is primarily interested in breaking a plethora of societal taboos, including but not limited to incest, pornography the ingestion of period blood. It can’t be denied that Minter has filmmaking talent (sound design is one of the highlights here), but whether or not you like what he puts on screen is another matter entirely. We Are the Flesh will try your patience in a way almost no other film will.


5. Alien: Covenant

Plot – In Ridley Scott’s second Alien prequel, he crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

CinemaScore – B

Rotten Tomatoes Score – 68%

MetaCritic Score  – 65

Budget – $97,000,000

Box Office (Domestic) – $74,262,031

Box Office (Foreign) – $166,483,733

What Made It So Polarizing? – This was a case of a film having an identity crisis. It was trying to please too many people at once. You see, after the mixed reaction to Prometheus, 20th Century Fox and Ridley Scott decided that the sequel (and Alien prequel) needed to feature more xenomorph action. That meant that much of what happens directly after Prometheus had to be abbreviated significantly. So basically an entire film (featuring Elizabeth Shaw’s journey to the engineers’ planet) was condensed into a quick 5-minute flashback sequence. This was both a huge disservice to the Shaw character as well as fans of Prometheus, because despite the mixed reception of Prometheus, it does have its fans. Had the remainder of the film been more original it might have had won over more people (I gave it a middling review), but even the xenomorph action is a retread of multiple moments from the previous Alien films (that underwhelming climax included). Still, Alien: Covenant did also have its fans. The problem Fox has now is that half of their audience wants to see a sequel more like Covenant, while the other half wants the series to go back to a style like Prometheus. They need to pick one route to go and commit to it.

Which films did you find to be the most polarizing of 2017? Let us know in the comments below!


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