And just like that we see another year of horror come to an end as 2014 rolls in on even more films for us to anticipate. I gotta say, I was pretty happy with the genre this year as it offered plenty of variety. We saw some surprisingly good remakes, a big-budget success and a few indie gems stand out from the rest this year. I didn’t see nearly as many films as I probably should have, but I made it a point to hit some of the bigger releases as well as the more anticipated flicks that I’ve talked about over the course of the year.
The problem with where I live though, is that they rarely carry any of the bigger horror flicks, so I unfortunately missed out on some of the higher profile films like You’re Next, Oldboy and a few others. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, below is my list of the top 11 horror movies of 2013. Will you agree with me? Read on to find out!
# 11 – Byzantium
The vampire genre has been around since the very beginning of cinema, so it’s no wonder that horror fans hold the iconic monsters so close. It had been nearly 20 years since Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire) had taken a stab at the genre, but what a return it was. Byzantium tells the classic tale of what it’s like to be truly under the curse of being immortal as two vampires struggle to hide from their past. It’s a very slow and deliberate film that doesn’t offer a whole lot of the red stuff, but what it does do is tell a phenomenal story that breathes new life into an old tale. It’s really a fantastic film and both Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan were phenomenal.
# 10 – 100 Bloody Acres
You could throw a severed limb and hit a horror-comedy that released this year, but to hit a good one would be a rare thing. Balancing horror and comedy is no easy task because both genres are probably the most difficult to be successful in. Brothers Cameron and Colin Cairnes delivered one hell of an entertaining film that pours on just as much of the red stuff as it does the laughs. A ridiculous set up and a bunch of awesome characters are what made this one stand out from the rest, and it was without a doubt one of the very best of 2013.
# 9 – Sightseers
At this point I don’t think there’s anything that Ben Wheatley could do that I wouldn’t like. He’s been tearing through the horror genre for the last couple of years and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. What’s fantastic about Wheatley is his ability to create something new and different with each and every film. He may be labeled as a horror director, but he has absolutely no limits to his ability to tell a crazy story. He followed up his chilling Kill List with Sightseers and while they hold the same brutality, they couldn’t be more different. This is the darkest of comedies and one that no other film of its kind even came close to touching this year. A true gem with some of the most ridiculous characters the genre has seen in quite some time.
# 8 – The World’s End
There was a lot of anticipation leading into Edgar Wright’s The World’s End as it would mark the conclusion of the Cornetto Trilogy, and what a finish it turned out to be. An absolute thrilling ride with just as much laughs as there was blue stuff flying limb from limb. Edgar Wright has yet to make a bad movie and seems to be only getting better with each and every turn behind the camera. His visual style is unmatched and he brings an amazing sense of quirkiness to The World’s End that he couples with edge of your seat thrills that make for a truly unforgettable film. Simon Pegg also turns in quite possibly his best performance to date, creating a character that I think any of us would gladly follow into The World’s End.
# 7 – Open Grave
Gonzalo López-Gallego’s Open Grave is probably the biggest surprise of the year because of the way it makes us look at such a tired genre. I really enjoyed this one quite a bit because it’s tale of mystery that slowly unravels into something so much darker and horrifying than what you would expect. The storytelling on display here is top notch, and with its chilling visuals and solid performance by Sharlto Copley, Open Grave easily found a place on my best of list.
# 6 – Maniac
Maniac is a shining example as to why it’s okay to remake a movie. Not only is this one better than the original, but it’s the most unique horror film on this list. Shot entirely in the point-of-view of Elijah Wood’s serial killer Frank, the film takes you on a terrifying journey through the eyes of a maniac, and the result is one chilling horror film. Wood has become one of the go-to guys in horror lately and it doesn’t look like he’ll be leaving the genre anytime soon. It’s an amazing horror flick with one of the best soundtracks of the year, and it’s gruesome as hell!
# 5 – Prisoners
Man, what a punch to the gut Prisoners turned out to be. At first glance the film’s length may be off putting to some, but for me it was the fastest two and a half hours I spent at the theater this year. It’s a chilling story that roots itself in real life terror that had me on edge from the very beginning. Seeing Hugh Jackman’s character go from loving father to hellbent on revenge was quite the trip, and even though he pissed me off quite a bit throughout the film, the performance was completely jarring at times. Detective Loki, as played by Jake Gyllenhaal, was the shining light in a film that was surrounded by darkness, and a character that was just cool as hell.
# 4 – We Are What We Are
Like Maniac, this is another remake that many said was unnecessary. Jim Mickle proved that just because it’s a remake doesn’t mean that it can’t be just as good as the original if not better. If you’re a fan of the slow-burn variety then this is one you will not want to miss. The atmosphere that Mickle creates is cold and raw and it features one of the very best performances the horror genre saw this year in Bill Sage. The film takes its sweet time building to one hell of a finish that will stay with you long after the credits roll.
# 3 – Evil Dead
Fede Alvarez had some big shoes to fill when he was offered the job to return Evil Dead to cinemas. It was pegged as a remake for the longest time, but once it finally released it became very evident that this wasn’t a remake at all. Instead it was a story that exists in the realm of Raimi’s classic and that’s exactly what made this film as good as it was. It was also without a doubt the goriest film of the year and Alvarez brought to light some of the most jaw dropping practical effects the genre has seen in years. I still have a hard time believing that there’s a horror fan out there who didn’t enjoy this one. What more do you people want?!
# 2 – The Conjuring
What a hell of a flick The Conjuring turned out to be. This genre is polluted with haunted house films so to get one as good as this is an absolute breath of fresh air. James Wan has grown immensely as a filmmaker and in The Conjuring he puts everything he has learned over the years to use in what was the year’s scariest film. It’s such a well paced film that sacrifices jump-scares for slow building tension that unravels in a terrifying final act. We’ve seen exorcisms in horror films hundreds of times, but Wan managed to create one of the scariest exorcism scenes the genre has seen in a very long time. This is a haunted house tale that stands above many and will certainly go down as one of the very best.
# 1 – Stoker
Park Chan-wook made his English-language directorial debut with Stoker, which was a beautifully twisted tale of murder that keeps you guessing until the very end. This is my kind of horror flick, which is exactly why it made my number 1 horror movie of the year. It’s a beautifully told story that takes its time building tension and leaving you to ask questions until the very end. It’s a remarkable film that never throws violence or blood at you unless it’s absolutely necessary as most of the violence happens off screen. It’s a classic horror story told by a master filmmaker who weaves a slow burning tale deep into the skin of its audience, and it’s one film that I’m happy to say is my number 1 of the year.