[Editor's Note: With this past year being another great one across multiple mediums in the horror genre, Emily von Seele continues Daily Dead's "Favorites of 2019" features by reflecting on her favorite movies and experiences from 2019.]
Black Christmas: Dear Santa,
All I want for Christmas is to give the patriarchy a swift kick in the balls.
I got my wish! Sophia Takal and April Wolfe’s adaptation reimagines the film in a way that is contemporary, fun, and empowering. It doesn’t seek to rehash the plot for Bob Clark’s seminal classic, but instead uses the premise as a jumping-off point to tell their own story. And I loved it. Every second. Though it has its flaws, its energy is amazing. I immediately bonded with the characters and was cheering them on every step of the way (sometimes out loud). In a time where simply being a woman means you’re constantly under attack from all sides, it feels good to have a movie that sees you and will hold your hand while you kick down whatever door is in front of you.
Midsommar: Following up 2018’s Hereditary was no easy feat, but Ari Aster’s second film proved just as powerful as his first. Midsommar takes on themes of trauma, healing, and leaving the past behind and packages them in a film that is powerful and cathartic. Everything in this film worked for me and the experience of watching it once again made my breath catch in my throat (Aster is good at that). It’s one that we will all be talking about for years to come, and I am excited to see what else Aster has in store for us in his future work.
Dead Ringers’ Scream 4 / Tragedy Girls Episode with Heather Wixson: Back in February, the Dead Ringers crew welcomed Daily Dead’s own Heather Wixson to our show to talk about Tragedy Girls and Scream 4. It was one of the most fun conversations I have ever had. As all of you know, Heather is a massive Scream 4 fan and was championing the film long before anyone else was acknowledging just how good it actually is. The film was definitely ahead of its time, and its commentary on social media and the state of remake/reboot culture in Hollywood is something that is as applicable today as it was upon its release. It made an excellent pairing with Tragedy Girls, one of my recent favorites. Fun was had by all, and we collectively celebrated our love of Kirby and the fact that NOBODY likes Trevor.
Doctor Sleep: Doctor Sleep was a book that I enjoyed in spite of its flaws. I loved everything about seeing the adult that Danny Torrance would become, burdened by the trauma of the Overlook Hotel and carrying the loss of his father, along with all of his father’s demons inside of him. I was less into the True Knot. But when I heard that Mike Flanagan was adapting this story, I was excited. Flanagan is a storyteller who can deliver scares and profound character moments in equal measure, and I thought he would be able to take on this material in a way that captured everything that I loved about the book, and perhaps even fix the elements that didn’t work as well.
I was right—he hit it out of the park. Doctor Sleep was scary, engaging, and emotional. The way he married the world that King created with the world that Stanley Kubrick created with his adaptation of The Shining was brilliant, and created a cohesion across the entire property. The film was one of my most anticipated and turned out to be one of my very favorites of the year.
Fantastic Fest: Fantastic Fest 2019 was more fun than any week has any right to be. And I was so happy to be a part of it. I got to hang with my Dead Ringers crew, I got to hang and work with Heather Wixson and Adrian Torres, and I got to watch some AMAZING movies. Some of them have since come out, and others are slated for release in 2020. Friends, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to talk about these movies with you in the coming year. Saint Maud. Color Out of Space. The Vast of Night. The Lodge. Holy crap—we have a lot to discuss.
Annabelle Comes Home: If anybody owns a house with a bunch of cursed objects inside and wants to invite me for a sleepover, I am down. Annabelle Comes Home was 100% pure horror fun. Possessed dolls, werewolves, a creepy Ferryman ghost, and an evil board game all take their turn in the spotlight as one by one, they are released and begin to scare the crap out of a trio of teen girls. I loved every second of it.
The Conjuring Universe continues to grow with more sequels and spinoffs, and for the most part, this series has been very successful. But by the third film in the Annabelle series, I was happy to see them be willing to play a little loose with the story and just allow it to be a fun and scary monsterfest.
Creepshow Series: The folks at Shudder continue to kill it. Their latest success is a new anthology series based on George Romero and Stephen King’s 1982 classic, Creepshow. Each episode is composed of a pair of 30-minute segments from a variety of horror writers and directors, including Greg Nicotero, Roxanne Benjamin, Joe Hill, David Bruckner, and Tom Savini, among others. The stories are great, the effects are incredible, and it’s fun to have a classic anthology series in the mix again.
Everyone has their favorite story, which is part of the fun of anthologies. They speak to a wide audience and everyone is going to connect with something different. My favorite was “The House of the Head” from Episode 1. It was beautifully understated and creepy as hell. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for season 2.
The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs: With the success of 2018’s The Last Drive-In 24-hour marathon, the Shudder gods decided to go a bit further in 2019 and develop a weekly series with Joe Bob Briggs, and I have never been happier. I had watched MonsterVision on TNT when I was in high school, and it had a profound effect on me. I didn’t really have any friends who loved horror movies the way I did, so when I watched them, I largely did so alone. But when I happened upon Joe Bob’s show one weekend night, I discovered that I was not alone. There are a lot of us out there.
Joe Bob would introduce me to a different horror movie every week and would teach me things along the way: behind-the-scenes factoids, information about directors and actors—he was a horror nerd like me, but he also approached the genre with a level of reverence. It was something that really shaped the way I approach horror and turned me into the unabashed nerd I am today. And now, I get to have it all over again.
The Perfection: I caught this at Fantastic Fest 2018 and it was one of my absolute favorites. When it hit Netflix in May, my Twitter feed was so full of “WTF?” remarks that I couldn’t help but laugh. That is the correct response, by the way. Richard Shepard’s film takes so many turns from beginning to end and is constantly keeping the audience guessing as to exactly what type of movie they are watching. The performances from Alison Williams, Logan Browning, and Steven Webber are off the charts, and even after you have seen it and know where the plot is going, it is still a marvelous film to revisit.
Want to know what other members of the Daily Dead team enjoyed in 2019? Visit our online hub to catch up on all of our Favorites of 2019 lists!