Vaila DeYoung, Contributing Writer
This year was monumental for the horror-thriller movie genre. If 2019 is any sort of window into the quality of films to come in the next decade, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I’ll be honest, every film on this list at some point was in my number one spot, and I think each of these films have achieved prestigious levels of filmmaking.
- ‘Parasite,’ directed by Bong Joon-ho
South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho absolutely blew me away with “Parasite.” This is the first film I have seen from this director, and I was extremely impressed. It seamlessly blends tones and genres into one cohesive and necessary masterpiece.
“Parasite” tells the story of two families from opposite ends of the class system. The lower class family (the Kims) quickly infiltrates the rich family (the Parks) getting jobs from them to support themselves. However, the Park family is not aware that their employees are related, and things quickly escalate as the Kim family tries to keep their secret.
The pacing of the film is just right. It doesn’t drag or feel like it’s moving too fast, which is an incredible feat in itself.
- ‘The Lighthouse,’ directed by Robert Eggers
“The Lighthouse” was a haunting and engaging horror-drama from Robert Eggers, who is famously known for directing “The Witch” in 2015. He returns to the big screen in 2019 with this film, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two lighthouse keepers enclosed in a small cabin with each other and seagulls as their only company.
The two descend into sheer madness reminiscent of “The Shining,” a clear inspiration for this film. Before I saw “Parasite,” “The Lighthouse” was certainly my favorite film of the year. It has everything I love in a film crammed into its 1.19:1 aspect ratio. However, after viewing “Parasite,” I decided to put “The Lighthouse” in my second spot.
While “The Lighthouse” was everything I wanted it to be, “Parasite” was completely unexpected — everything I wanted and more.
- ‘The Farewell,’ directed by Lulu Wang
“The Farewell” is about a family that plans a last minute trip to visit their terminally-ill grandmother in China as she is diagnosed with late-stage cancer. However, in respect of Chinese tradition and social norms, the family hides the fact that she has cancer from her and disguises a fake wedding for one of her grandchildren as a chance to say one last goodbye to her.
This film was incredibly moving and perfectly captures a complicated but loving family dynamic. There are strong performances across the board, but especially from the lead, played by Awkwafina.
“The Farewell” was like a warm hug in the form of a movie, and I can’t recommend it enough.
- ‘Midsommar’ directed by Ari Aster
“Midsommar” was one of my most anticipated films of the year, and it most certainly exceeded expectations. Following up his extremely successful feature film debut, “Hereditary,” in 2018, Ari Aster released “Midsommar” this past summer, and audiences (including myself) couldn’t wait to see what it was all about.
I surely was not disappointed after viewing this film for the first time, and loved it even more seeing a director’s cut edition the second time. The film looks spectacular in its almost blinding sunlight and bright warm colors, but is heavily contrasted with sinister undertones and grim subject matter.
“Midsommar” was one of the most memorable films I’ve seen in a long time, and I would recommend it to any fan of the horror movie genre.
- ‘Us’ directed by Jordan Peele
Jordan Peele came back after releasing his groundbreaking directorial debut, “Get Out,” in 2017, with his follow-up film “Us” in 2019. The budget and production design significantly improved since his last film, allowing its main narrative to expand into something greater.
Although “Us” wasn’t perfect, it was an extremely important and completely unique take on horror that no one other than Peele has captured. I can’t wait to see his recently announced upcoming film, “Antebellum,” set to release sometime in 2020.