It's been kind of a strange year for horror. Though there have been occasional standouts that've demanded headlines, it's felt like a footnote on 2018's offerings, which saw huge hitters like A Quiet Place, Hereditary and Halloween dominate the box office. The closest 2019 got to those successes was It: Chapter 2, and even that underperformed critically and commercially compared to the first.
Of course, that doesn't mean this year has been a washout for the genre, just that the best releases haven't been the studio pictures everyone expected to succeed (and if they were, they were criminally ignored by audiences).
As always, there have been plenty of underrated fright fests lurking outside of the Hollywood system, delivering some of the most imaginative, daring, and sometimes just outright fun moviegoing experiences you can find across any genre over the past 12 months.
From long-awaited international films that have finally received a Western release to new oddities that came out of nowhere, Halloween might have long since passed, but there's no excuse to keep sleeping on these hidden gems.
One to add to the 'space is scary as !*$%' genre (yes that's a thing), Aniara is about a commuter ship travelling from Earth to Mars.
The general idea is that the trip should only last three weeks, but a few days in the ship is thrown off course, and to spoil what happens next would be to ruin the existential dread of the unknown that courses through the veins of this Swedish sci-fi thriller.
There are major questions that Aniara poses as its characters remain stuck in stasis (What is the meaning of life? Is living on a spaceship all that much worse than being on Earth? How many mad sex orgies could you theoretically fit into one 24-hour period?) but few answers, and it's kinda of like the equivalent of being left with your own thoughts, only occasionally they're violently interrupted by a cult forming down the hallway.
It's not the most original film, and comparisons can be made to a bunch of other flicks like this year's High Life and, weirdly enough, Threads, but it's always accomplished and smart, and one of the most unnerving films 2019 had to offer.