Last year felt like a rollercoaster ride, but luckily, for me, there were a number of horror-related films, TV shows, and apparel that put a smile on my face and helped me chug along throughout the year. Here is my list of favorites from 2017:
Mr. Mercedes: After getting to experience the first season of Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes on the Audience network back in August, I am happy to say that it is wonderful yet anxiety-inducing to spend time under Debbie's Blue Umbrella (this will make more sense after watching the series).
Mr. Mercedes is based on the first book in a trilogy of crime novels (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, and End of Watch) that follow former detective Bill Hodges, a hard-drinking older gentleman who gets sucked back into the world of crime-solving when a very disturbed psychopath named Brady Hartsfield begins sending him menacing letters.
I wasn't familiar with this set of King's novels before watching the show, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I watched the first episode, but I am really glad I took a chance on it. As an avid fan of Penny Dreadful on Showtime, I was happy to see that Harry Treadaway was a part of the cast, and after watching the entire first season, I can say without a doubt that his portrayal of Brady Hartsfield is my favorite thing about the show. There's a dash of sweetness added to his psychosis and it is something you have to see for yourself. Brendan Gleeson as Detective Hodges, Breeda Wool as Lou, Kelly Lynch as Deb Hartsfield, and the rest of the supporting cast is just phenomenal. No hyperbole here!
mother!: Ah, Darren Aronofsky's surprisingly controversial film mother! Because of the divisive opinions and conversations that sprouted up almost immediately after this film was released, I avoided watching it. Aronofsky's films are already somewhat hit or miss for me, and I couldn't bring myself to sit through two hours of a film that might not land. Then the holidays rolled around and I found myself having more extra time than usual, and it was then that I decided to block out the conversations and the noise and give mother! a shot. I don't want to spoil any major plot points, but I was deeply moved by the film's messages, especially the ones about how we treat other human beings and the environment.
Stranger Things Season 2: After Season 1 of Stranger Things ended, I didn't think we needed to go back to the Upside Down. I was happy with how complete the first season felt, but I am not going to lie, I loved seeing all of my favorite characters back smashing Demogorgons in the face with spiked bats Negan-style. In Season 2, we get a deeper look into the characters, including a look at Dustin and Lucas' families, and we even get some new characters. It wasn't a "perfect" season, but I found myself revisiting the show again and again and listening to the soundtrack as well.
American Horror Story: Cult: This next pick is a show that I can't necessarily encourage everyone to watch while at the same time wanting desperately for everyone to watch.
Season 7 of Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story: Cult takes place in a town in Michigan where we see how a number of characters, mainly Ally (Sarah Paulson), Ivy (Alison Pill), Winter (Billie Lourde), Kai (Evan Peters), and Rudy (Cheyenne Jackson) react to the results of the 2016 presidential election. As the subtitle suggests, cults in varying forms of the word are formed and, well, in the words of Jedi Master Yoda, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
I think that 2016 and 2017 were long and difficult for a lot of us, specifically politically, and American Horror Story: Cult was a much-needed means of catharsis. Earlier, I mentioned that I can't encourage everyone to watch this season and that's mainly due to the gore and violence. For some fans of horror, gore and violence are palatable when not presented in an environment that looks like our real world, and since this season takes place very much in the real world, it may be too much for certain viewers. Also, with the overall narrative being one with a political and social focus, it doesn't leave any room to "escape" and go into a fantasy world, and I think that may be an issue for many as well.
The Babysitter: I watch quite a few movies on streaming services, especially Netflix, and 2017 was a great year for original horror movies released on these platforms. Case in point: Netflix's The Babysitter.
The Babysitter is reminiscent of horror movies in the ’80s and ’90s and beyond that, it explores (whether intentional or not) the "babysitter isn't who she says she is" trope. The intention here is absolutely not accidental, as it even winks to these types of movies with the way it is shot and the shallow archetypes, but it stands on its own by contributing unrelenting humor along with its own take on the trope.
Get Out: Get Out was released at the beginning of 2017, and I still find myself watching it and spotting things I missed on the first watch. It's also the film I saw the most times in theaters with an impressive six times.
There are a lot of reasons why Get Out is an excellent film, from the cinematography to the performances and the fleshed-out characters who, even when revealed to be incredibly heinous, feel grounded. But honestly, it's Jordan Peele's commentary on the racial components of our society that hit me hard, and although it's not completely a new concept, it was done in a fresh and honest way.
Riverdale Season 2: Now, I know what you are thinking... why is Riverdale on your list of favorite horror goodies for 2017? Believe it or not, Riverdale on The CW, especially season 2, has been really dark, taking cues from The Town that Dreaded Sundown, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Zodiac, and Tales from the Darkside.
The first half of this season focused on yet another murder mystery, but this time a serial killer called The Black Hood terrorizes the small town. There's also a wonderful cameo by the legendary Tony Todd, who I hope shows up in the second half of the season because it was awesome seeing him on the show. Candyman in Riverdale!
Trick or Treat Studios' Slappy and Trick ’r Treat Sam Enamel Pins: My last horror-themed favorite of 2017 has to be the enamel pins from Trick or Treat Studios.
I am a newbie in the pin game, and I am glad that I started my collection with Slappy from Goosebumps and Trick ’r Treat's Sam. It was hard to choose, but I went with characters that have sat with me the longest. The pins are excellent quality and the perfect size to wear on a jacket, which is how I wear them. I didn't expect them to be conversation starters, but they definitely were, especially at the holiday parties I went to. I am definitely going to get more, probably Leatherface and the Clown Skinner.
Want to know what other members of the Daily Dead team enjoyed in 2017? Catch up on all of our favorites coverage here.