’Tis the season…

As 2019 winds down, it’s hard not to feel like we had a bumper year for good film, regardless of genre. As I started crystallizing my thoughts around which ones stood out as the best exemplars, it was challenging to narrow the list down to just ten. So I did what anyone would do – I changed the rules!

The list below is comprised of films that saw a wide release during 2019, either theatrically or via streaming. It seemed a bit disingenuous to stack my list with films that a large portion of our readership wouldn’t have had the chance to watch yet. But since there were a number of festival films that were worthy both of mention among the year’s best and your attention in the coming year, I’ve included some of those highlights in a separate article here. So what we have below is an admittedly subjective list of my personal top ten horror films that received a wide release during 2019, counting down from #10 to my #1 favorite horror film of the year.

As an added bonus, after my top film of the year is revealed, I’ve included a few honorable mentions and some unranked favorites from genres other than horror. Without further ado, let’s bring on the list!  

10. Doctor Sleep

“Flanagan once again proves why he’s among the top tier…of those adapting King’s works”

Mike Flanagan accomplished quite the feat this year: he successfully adapted Doctor Sleep in a manner that satisfied most fans of the book and movie version of The Shining, and even had Stephen King in some ways reevaluating his feelings on Kubrick’s film. The casting was impeccable, particularly Rebecca Ferguson’s delightfully wicked turn as the villainous Rose the Hat. Flanagan once again proves why he’s among the top tier, not only of those adapting King’s works, but of filmmakers working in the horror genre in general. The care taken in recreating scenes and characters from Stanley Kubrick’s film is present throughout Flanagan’s approach to Doctor Sleep—and the fact that it’s number ten on this list speaks volumes to just how strong a year 2019 was in the horror genre.  

9. Ready or Not

“perhaps the most consistently outright fun film on this list”

I’ll admit—I didn’t know that Ready or Not was “A Radio Silence Film” until I saw that credit on the screen. Radio Silence, the collective consisting of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, and Chad Villella, first caught my eye as the directors of the best segment in V/H/S – the haunted house tale “10/31/98.” Here, Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett serve as co-directors, and Villella gets an executive producer credit. Put simply, Ready or Not tells the story of a deadly game of hide and seek played on a new bride’s wedding night. Pacts with the devil and unexpected spouts of gore are balanced out by a stylish production design and standout performances. Samara Weaving had a banner year in 2019, with excellent—and vastly different—performances in both Ready or Not and Guns Akimbo. From beginning to end, Ready or Not is an absolute blast, and perhaps the most consistently outright fun film on this list. 

The list continues on the next page…