Perhaps the biggest surprise for me this year (as far as things related to this blog) was the fact that I didn’t like Red Dead Redemption 2. Unrelated to this blog, the biggest surprise for me this year was a dustbuster hand-held vacuum. Being a grown up is weird.
Pinning down exactly what it is I didn’t like about Red Dead Redemption 2 is difficult; maybe the deliberately slow pacing; maybe the fact that I didn’t like riding a horse around for excessively long periods of time. For some reason everything about Red Dead 2 seemed like work instead of fun. All of these things came as a huge surprise to me — especially since I absolutely adored the original. For those just dropping by for the first time, The Couch Petito is a blog about movies and video games. Sometimes, depending on the day, it’s a blog about the best photos on the internet of Jean-Claude Van Damme. The ship really kind of just steers itself around here.
Red Dead Redemption 2 aside, 2018 has been a pretty sweet year for games and movies. When one of your favorite directors releases two movies within just a few months of each other, both of which wildly exceed expectations, crappier things become much easier to overlook. Maybe that’s why I never decided to write about my thoughts on Red Dead 2 at any length. Personally, it’s more fun writing about things that are good. For the record, though, Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t fun.
So here it is then, my list of things I thought were really good in 2018. I mainly play games on Playstation, so if you’re wondering why a Switch, Steam or Xbox game you think is really great isn’t on this list, that’s why.
Monster Hunter: World
Monster Hunter: World was a game I didn’t play for a particularly long stretch of time. I did, however, play a lot of Monster Hunter: World in a very short period of time. All of Monster Hunter’s DLC has been released for free, so there’s no doubt I’ll be revisiting some of the new content soon.
Vampyr was a game I was excited about the moment it was announced. Everything about it seemed intriguing to me; the RPG elements, the dark Victorian London setting and, of course, the vampires. Fortunately everything that seemed great about Vampyr as it progressed through development delivered on release. The world, although dark and filled with despair, felt alive; forcing on you the choice to orchestrate its destruction or salvation. I took the good guy approach in Vampyr but there were a few bonehead bystanders along the way that got what was coming to them.
God Of War
You throw the axe and it comes back to you. Initially I couldn’t get over how awesome that was. For a while it was the only move I used; partly because it was effective, and partly because it’s just too damn cool. But this game is much more than just an axe boomerang simulator with a gorgeous world to explore. It proved that a God Of War game can be brutal and have heart, the expected Kratos violence and 100-hit combos weaved between an evolving yet increasingly complex father/son relationship story.
Haunting of Hill House
It’s no surprise that something Mike Flanagan writes and directs ends up being great. Haunting of Hill House is no exception. Hill House, along with shows like Channel Zero and NBC’s Hannibal, are shining examples of the gold standard for horror Television.
Hold The Dark
Jeremy Saulnier is not capable of doing any wrong.
The Night Comes For Us
I love everything about this movie and it’s hands down my favorite thing from 2018. To me, Timo Tjahjanto is one of the best working filmmakers out there right now. The Night Comes For Us follows Joe Taslim’s Ito, a former bad guy turned slightly better guy after making the choice of saving a young girl from a village he was tasked with destroying. Ito’s betrayal plunges The Night Comes For Us into a violently brilliant beat-em up action flick filled with flawless fight choreography, stellar direction and countless missing dismemberments. In TNCFU it’s not a matter of what objects in frame will be used as a weapon, it’s a matter of when.
May The Devil Take You
The other really good Timo Tjahjanto film from 2018, May The Devil Take You is a refreshing possession story in a mostly tired sub genre; a sub genre that’s been lacking any new and interesting ideas as of late. The story is solid from the start but fizzles out a bit once it gains momentum, but what it loses in story as it progresses it gains back in spades in scares. May The Devil Take You is easily the scariest movie that released in 2018.
I watched Backcountry for the first time in early 2018. I was specifically asked by someone if I had seen the crazy movie about the couple who gets lost in the woods and attacked by a bear. It was painful saying no to that. After watching it and liking it I looked up the director and saw he had a horror movie coming out later in the year called Pyewacket. Pyewacket, like Backcountry, is really good.
It’s been close to a year since Annihilation released in theaters. Since then I’ve seen it four times and, no matter how hard I fight it, I still can’t get that damn bear scream out of my head. Blade Runner 2049 and Annihilation are the types of science fiction movies we need more of. Hopefully Alex Garland and Denis Villeneueve never stop making movies.
This is the extent to which I’ll describe The Endless: “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear non-subjective viewpoint it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey….stuff”
Kickboxer: Vengeance was so bad that I just figured the Kickboxer franchise would be left to die. When I saw Retaliation released I disregarded it, solely on the fact that Vengeance was terrible. As time went by Retaliation hovered comfortably in the 85-90% range on Rotten Tomatoes; a score someone (especially me) would never think to see attached to a Kickboxer franchise entry. I watched it, then watched it a few more times. Kickboxer: Retaliation is fantastic.
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich
Littlest Reich is the best B-movie of 2018 by far. Coincidentally, it was written by S. Craig Zahler, which I didn’t know prior to seeing it. Zahler is responsible for other really good things like Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99. No wonder Littlest Reich was so good.
I don’t have anything particularly new to add to the conversation and analysis of Mandy. If you haven’t seen it yet, well, that’s certainly one way to live.
I love anything and everything Karate Kid so it’s no surprise the YouTube Red series made this list. Cobra Kai was everything I wanted it to be and more. With the script flipped on who we’re rooting for—despite any bogus debate on who the real bad guy may have been all along—Cobra Kai is exactly what it needed to be as a new thing in 2018; heavily embracing the cheese factor instead of ignoring it may just be the best thing it has going for it.
Basketball: A Love Story
Watching Basketball: A Love Story from start to finish was quite the time commitment. I suppose going in I should have known that an extensive oral history of a popular modern sport wouldn’t be a realistic story to tell in a short period of time. 20 hours long and jam packed with exclusive interviews with some of basketball’s greatest icons, Basketball: A Love Story offers a perspective on basketball history I’ve never seen before, and it was an absolute treat to watch.
Mom and Dad
Imagine The Crazies but only the adults go nuts. That’s probably the best way to describe Mom and Dad. Fortunately, this movie stars Nic Cage so he is an adult going nuts. I don’t think anything else needs to be said.
The End Of The Fucking World
If I remember correctly, this was the first new thing I watched in 2018. A twisted love story about a teenage kid who is implied to be lost to darkness, only to find love in the girl he had been plotting to kill from their very first meeting. The End of the Fucking World is dark as hell, but there are moments of heart sprinkled throughout it that are truly exceptional and impossible to ignore.
The entire movie I was trying to piece together exactly what it was I remembered Joshua Leonard from. For context, Leonard plays David, the madman Claire Foy’s character may or may not be imagining throughout the course of the movie. After getting frustrated and finally looking it up online, Joshua Leonard is Josh in the original Blair Witch Project. Unsane is about a woman simply seeking out someone to talk to about her supposed stalker. As a result, she’s involuntarily admitted into a mental institution. The stalker ends up being real and, as I already spoiled, it’s Joshua Leonard.
Cam is a lot of things. Besides being good, a lot of its themes are somewhat disturbingly grounded in reality. It took me a minute to shake the fact that I wasn’t watching an episode of Black Mirror.
Thanks to everyone who has been following along, and happy new year.