M.L. Miller here! Welcome horror fans to my Annual countdown of the Best of the Best in Horror! The countdown is going to be running every day through October, culminating to the best horror film of the year announced on October 31st. Some of these films can be found in theaters—others have unfortunately only seen the light of day On Demand, DVD, BluRay, or digital download. I’ve tried to indicate in the reviews how you can watch and enjoy these films yourselves.

How did I compile this list? There’s no real method to my special brand of madness. I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2017 and September 30, 2018 and worked and reworked the list until I had 31. This countdown is not for the elitists or festival goers, so if the film hasn’t been released to the masses, it won’t be on the list. Also, anything released in October will most likely be on next year’s list—so sorry, no films like HALLOWEEN or SUSPIRIA just yet. I hope you’ll join me daily and don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web. I’ll also provide a second film suggestion in a separate post that is worth noting this year or missed being on the list by a skosh for those who can’t get enough horror.

So, let’s get to it! Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, and most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

#2 A QUIET PLACE

Why is A QUIET PLACE #2? What astonishes me about A QUIET PLACE is that it is a horror film made by a recognizable actor who is a newcomer to the horror genre but delivers a powerhouse of a big budget horror/sci-fi hybrid. With a top tier cast, a truly unique monster, and a hook that makes for a truly special viewing experience where silence is both necessary to the plot and the viewer. It’s also filled with fantastically tense moments and a harrowing ending. All in all, I wish there were more horror films like A QUIET PLACE. Its big budget horror done right. You can find A QUIET PLACE here on iTunes and Amazon!

A QUIET PLACE (2018)

Directed by John Krasinski
Written by Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski
Starring Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward, Leon Russom, Rhoda Pell

Many say that I have a prejudice against big budget horror. This isn’t the case at all. I actually love the feeling of going to a large theater and taking part in a group transport into wild and imaginative places. Now, I’m not exactly fond of the disruptive nature of today’s crowds, but when the movie is good and so is the audience, it can be a magical experience. The main problem with big budget horror is that it so often is tame and safe. Horror is about taking risks and stakes so dire that one might not come out alive. It’s about making you feel uncomfortable in your environment and confronting the unknown. These are not safe and tame sensations and it’s a risk to support a big budget on them. But sometimes the big budget and the horror concept works perfectly in tandem and I think that’s what we got with A QUIET PLACE.


Johnathan Krasinski plays Lee Abbott, the patriarch of a large family in a horrible situation. Living in a world overrun by carnivorous creatures that use sound as their main hunting method, Lee and his family must live silently in order to survive. After suffering the devastating loss of their youngest child, Lee and his wife Evelyn (Emily Blunt, his wife in real life as well) are trying to keep the family together and are expecting a new child soon. With their son Marcus (Noah Jupe) and daughter Regan (Millicent Simmonds) growing up, Lee begins training his children to survive just in case something should happen to him. Regan is overcome with guilt as she was involved in the death of her brother, seen in the harrowing opening moments. Marcus is overly cautious and fearful of everything due to the incident. When Lee leaves the sanctuary of their home to try to teach Marcus how to live off the land, Evelyn and Regan are forced to fend for themselves with Evelyn’s pregnancy nearing its end. But how can Evelyn possibly give birth silently and how can a baby survive in a world where one utterance can mean extinction?

From concept to execution, I am most impressed that this is a straight up horror sci fi mix from first time director John Krasinski. I always knew him as Martin Freeman’s American counterpart on THE OFFICE—a role where he often goofily looked at the camera like Stan Laurel every time something absurd happened in the office setting. I never thought Krasinski had what it took to be a leading man type, what with his large eyes and ears. He just didn’t seem the type. Surprisingly though, all baggage from the NBC sitcom melts away immediately in the heartbreaking opening moments of A QUIET PLACE. This tragedy immediately raises the stakes and lets you know no one is safe. It’s an opener that snatches your attention and doesn’t let up. As the Abbott family move silently across the sand covered pathways, utilizing sign language for communication, we experience their loss, heartbreak, and love with no lengthy exposition or schmaltzy sequences. Sure, we get a Neil Young song (“Harvest Moon”), but even that holds a tenderness that feels real as Lee and Evelyn steal a moment to themselves amidst the chaos. It shouldn’t work. I should have been overcome by the cheese, but I wasn’t. I bought it, once again, because the threat was established early, yet it left so many questions that other films feel the need to answer, unanswered.


But it’s not all teardrops and sunbeams that make this film good. Setting up a film in this talkative, explosive, and otherwise noisy day and age is a true feat. The theater I went to see it in when I saw it seemed to get it and remain silent all the way through (again that opener shuts people the hell up and communicates that talking is not permitted to enjoy the film). There are scenes of sheer tension revolving around silence that don’t feel contrived, but as a natural part of the story. The Abbotts may not have wanted to have a child, but they are working their hardest to have it safely. Of course, when the baby is on its way, it’s not the ideal time, but again, these threats are a natural evolution from the plot and never feel like they are tacked on so that there can be one more action set piece for the family to hurdle. This is a smart script that covers all the bases.

The creature design in A QUIET PLACE is as unique as the concept. Built as ultimate hunters, they are fast, deadly, and once they are revealed, it is evident that they are all ear. Seeing these creatures hunt and track their prey is visually intriguing and easily one of the cooler monster designs you’re going to see this year.

I wish more films would have this kind of magical hold over the audience to keep them quiet. This is an entrancing and engrossing sci fi horror that utilizes tension, CGI, and top tier acting to offer up one of the best times you’re going to have in the theaters this year. It proves that big budget can take risks and make you feel as unnerved as the most intimate of low fi thrillers and signals that Krasinski is so much more than an office stooge.




THE COUNTDOWN SO FAR…


#31 – Sam Patton’s DESOLATION
#30 – CULT OF CHUCKY
#29 – 1922
#28 – PSYCHOPATHS
#27 – GHOST STORIES
#26 – PYEWACKET
#25 – DOWNRANGE
#24 – MAYHEM
#23 – COLD SKIN
#22 – THELMA
#21 – THE BABYSITTER
#20 – TONIGHT SHE COMES
#19 – THE NIGHT EATS THE WORLD
#18 – THE RITUAL
#17 – FAKE BLOOD
#16 – BETTER WATCH OUT
#15 – MARROWBONE
#14 – MOM AND DAD
#13 – THE ENDLESS
#12 – BLACK HOLLOW CAGE
#11 – FOUND FOOTAGE 3D
#10 – LET HER OUT
#9 – MON MONSTERS
#8 – ANNIHILATION
#7 – HEREDITARY
#6 – CREEP 2
#5 – INCIDENT IN A GHOSTLAND
#4 – REVENGE
#3 – HOLD THE DARK
#2 – A QUIET PLACE


Best of lists from previous years;
2016-17 #1 – RAW
2015-16 #1 – THE VVITCH
2014-15 #1 – THE CANAL
2013-14 #1 – PROXY
2012-13 #1 – MANIAC
2012 #1 – THE WOMAN
2011 #1 – THE LAST CIRCUS

Happy Halloween!


M. L. Miller is an original AICN @$$Hole formerly known as Ambush Bug/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow Mark on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.

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Don’t forget to share and like and finally, Happy Horror Holiday Month to Everyone!