Horror movies aren’t just for Halloween anymore. They’re year-round extravaganzas of bloody gore, crazy villains and high-concept stuff that’ll freak you out and make you think about the world around you.
There’s also some absolute dreck, but, hey, you take the good with the bad.
Even some top-notch stuff can come out in January, Hollywood’s annual wasteland of badness: Directed by Osgood Perkins (son of “Psycho” icon Anthony Perkins), “Gretel & Hansel” (in theaters Friday) offers a delightfully twisted and visually stunning take on the old Brothers Grimm fairy tale about two kids and a cannibalistic witch, starring Sophia Lillis (“It”).
This year, we’re taking on the task of definitively ranking every new horror movie, and here’s how “Gretel & Hansel” stacks up with what’s come out thus far:
7. ‘The Turning’
The horrid adaptation of Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw” stars Mackenzie Davis as new governess Kate who’s been hired to take care of a young girl (Brooklynn Prince) who’s parents have died. The estate is huge but weird, the girl’s teenage brother (Finn Wolfhard) is a violent malcontent, and Kate feels like she’s going nuts seeing ghostly figures and hearing things that go bump in the night. Way more frustrating than freaky, the film also has one of the worst endings in recent memory.
6. ‘The Grudge’
In the latest (and forgettable) redo of the Japanese horror movie, a couple of cops (Andrea Riseborough and Demian Bichir), a realtor couple (John Cho and Betty Gilpin) and others come to face to face with a vengeful phantom that attaches itself to houses and people, and haunts them until their unavoidable doom. The film offers nonlinear intertwining storylines, ghosts coming out of bathtubs, and little else.
5. ‘The Sonata’
Freya Tingley plays a gifted violinist whose composer father (the late Rutger Hauer), once thought of as a industry-changing genius before dropping off the classical-music map, dies extremely violently. She inherits a gothic castle and an unpublished masterwork – filled with weird symbols courtesy of dad’s dark interests – in a movie with cool classical music but no real scares.
The “Alien” influence isn’t at all subtle in the action-packed thriller starring Kristen Stewart as a mechanical engineer on a doomed drilling team (featuring T.J. Miller and Jessica Henwick) seven miles below the ocean surface. There are lots of claustrophobic escapes, crushing deep-sea dangers and neato monsters, plus Stewart – with cropped hair and a bunch of derring-do – does a decent job rocking a modern Ripley vibe.
“Booksmart” meets “Shaun of the Dead” with a dash of “Gremlins” in the teen horror comedy centered on popular high schooler Sara (Mary Nepi), who loses her virginity, becomes pregnant with an alien baby, and gives “birth” to a creature that tears up their town. Come for the gruesome shenanigans of a monstrous critter that attaches itself to people’s heads, stay for Sara and her estranged childhood pal Hayley (Gabrielle Elyse) becoming creature-hunting BBFs again.
2. ‘Color Out of Space’
In this trippy, slow-burn gore-fest based on an H.P. Lovecraft short story, a New England alpaca farmer (Nicolas Cage), his workaholic wife (Joely Richardson) and his kids have ordinary, everyday problems that get exponentially weirder when a meteorite lands in their yard and they’re taken over by an alien presence. The invasion creates a sumptuous color palette for some stunning visuals, and Cage going absolutely bonkers never gets old.
1. ‘Gretel & Hansel’
In this fairy-tale reimagining, Gretel (Lillis) and little brother Hansel (Samuel Leakey) leave home – and their insane mother – behind and set into the forest. Hungry, they find a super-weird house and are enticed by an ornate feast inside, where they meet the witch (Alice Krige) who runs the place. Suffice it to say, she’s not on the up-and-up. The film features wonderfully unnerving sights, a nuanced narrative and an intriguing empowerment story that also explores the consequences of having power.