Dave’s Top Ten Of 2019 – Or – What Really Grinds My Gears, The 2019 Edition

How many Family Guy fans we got reading this article today?

One of my favorite episodes is the one where Peter gets hired by the local news channel to voice his opinion on a nightly editorial piece called What Really Grinds My Gears and if you’re familiar with the episode – then you know what’s about to happen here.

As I have read and listened to all the genre pundits post and rattle on about their versions of the best films of 2019 I’ve discovered, I’ve got a gear to grind.

If I’ve read or listened to your Top Ten list and Midsommer – or The Lighthouse or US is on the list – it’s immediately invalid, if one or all three have made it on your list – you have not chosen a Top 10 – you have anywhere from a Top 7 to a Top 9 list, and you may be a fan of cinema but I’m not so sure about that love of horror, and here’s why.

We’ve managed to shuffle into an area where oddness and peculiarity have become horror – your film no longer has to be bloody, or scary, or horrific.  It just needs to be different.

Now, nothing wrong with being different – let that unique light of yours shine but please, not at the expense of the genre I love.

This is how we end up with things like GWEN and The Nightingale and Mandy and the myriad of other “artsy” genre fare. It’s spreading and it’s time to cut off the appendage and cauterize the bloody stump.

Great camera angles and interesting color schemes may be fun – but that alone is not enough to make it a great horror film. Please, don’t get me wrong – this has nothing to do with any director or writer or actor. This is not personal – this does not mean that these films are not well made, or interesting – it does not mean that anyone involved does not have talent- or vision – I’m just saying – stop trying to push your artistic BS off as horror.  Go terrorize another genre – and stop grinding my gears.

With that being said – here are the Top Ten films that I consider to be the best 2019 had to offer – and in my mind best represent this genre we all proclaim to love.

10. IT: Chapter 2 – I kind of struggled with this one – it was on my list, then off my list, then back on again.  I honestly expected this one to settle much closer to that coveted number one spot, and as it turned out it barely made it into the 10th but, at the end of the day – it came down to the cast and this one is loaded with fantastic performances that perfectly melded with those given by the young actors and actresses in Chapter 1. I love this story; I loved the original mini-series and I also love this two-chapter retelling of this amazing tale.

9. One Cut Of The Dead – This one was destined to be on my stinker list – a foreign film, subtitled and in the now very stale zombie genre. Damn, was I ever wrong. This my friends is how a distinct vision and a commitment to telling a fantastic story should play out. If you have not yet seen this film, stop reading and go watch it now. It is so much more than a horror film but- they didn’t forget the horror.

8. Daniel Isn’t Real – When I caught wind that this one was from the same folks that brought us, Mandy, I almost didn’t bother hitting play. But they get it right this time. In this tale, a young man’s imaginary friend from his youth returns later in life and well – things get interesting. Fantastic use of visuals coupled with great acting and just the right amount of kick-ass special effects makes this one a must-see winner. Proof that these artsy folks can make a good horror flick if they keep their eye on the ball.

7. Ready Or Not  – This little gem is so much fun and Samara Weaving is fantastic as a new bride married into a prosperous toy-making family who finds herself in a game of hide and seek that ends shall we say – explosively.  It might just be the most fun I had at the theater this year.

6. Pilgrim – The first appearance of a Blumhouse film on this year’s list and this one comes via director Marcus Dunstan who gives us a holiday-themed tale with a demented twist that only Marcus could provide. When a family decides to allow some pilgrim reenactors into their home to show them a good old-fashioned Thanksgiving – well let’s just say – things get a bit puritanical.

5. The Perfection – Another film with a premise that is more arthouse than horror but guess what? They don’t forget the horror! It can be done!  And this film proves it.

4. A Nasty Piece Of Work – Blumhouse comes around again – this is the second entry from the Into The Dark series of films that Hulu has been airing to make it on my list. So many reasons to love this one the main one being the amazing performance from genre vet Julian Sands as a demented employer with an interesting method of screening someone for a promotion. Kickass holiday-themed fun.

3. Doctor Sleep – As of this moment I proclaim, no other director should ever be allowed to touch another Stephen King property unless his name is Mike Flanigan. This guy just gets King – he can take King’s words and consistently bring them to life. A perfect blending of Stephen King’s vision and the cinematic version brought to life by Stanley Kubrick, Doctor Sleep features an amazing blend of nostalgia and new interesting characters that carry on the tradition while keeping things fresh and interesting.

2. Don’t F**K With Cats – The only documentary on my list but damn – what a documentary it is. This flick is hands down the most bat shit crazy thing I have ever watched, made all the more horrific by the fact that it’s all 100% true. One of the most bizarre things I have ever watched – this three-episode mini-series is absolute must-see viewing. However prepared you think you are for this one – I promise you, it is 1000 times stranger then you can even imagine. It’s on Netflix, go watch it.

1. The Velocipastor – This is everything our genre is meant to be. On the podcast, I’ve called this one the Airplane of horror films and I mean that with all the respect in the world. The premise is insane but with some great acting and a keen sense of perspective, this one delivers the fun and the shocks.

Dave Dreher
Co-Founder / Lead News Reporter at Gruesome Magazine
Dave is co-founder and lead news reporter for Gruesome. Dave has built his resume working for Diabolique Magazine, The Horror Channel, Horrornews.net, House of Horrors and Creature Corner. He has worked with Tom Savini on his official site since 1997 and is also co-host of the popular podcast Horror News Radio.