2013 was an absolutely killer year for horror films. There were so many movies that were on my mind while making this list that I had a genuinely hard time leaving a lot of them off. From amazing horror comedies like This Is The End to straight up brutal fare like Maniac.
In fact, there were so many great films I had to add a much longer honorable mention section than normal! I really feel like horror fans were blessed in 2013. With so many wonderful films that were amazing for totally different reasons, it felt weird to rank them in order from 1-10. So this is a list presented in no particular order.
Head below to check it out!
There are so many zombie movies out there that seem content to repeat the same ideas, with little flair and to no effect. Not only does Warm Bodies have a new take on it – Zombie as a metaphor for the inability of the young male of our species to communicate romantically – it’s also incredibly well made. It may be too sweet and too PG-13 for some of you guys, I get that. But for me it’s still a great time.
A hilarious movie that spends just as much time dealing with exorcisms and giant demon cocks as it does skewering celebrity entitlement. Part of me expected to hate This Is The End, but it wound up one of my favorite films of the year. Hilarious and totally rewatchable.
Stitches could have very easily gone down the wrong path with bad clown humor. But writer/director Conor McMahon is able to make those gags totally organic to the story by using them as the ingredients for a series of kills that grow more clever in their inventiveness with each passing beat. It’s also a remarkably economic narrative with no flab to be found.
I know a lot of you are mixed on this. Could the first act have used a bit more finesse when it came to setting up the characters? Sure. But once this film gets going it totally flies. The largely practical effects are great and the gore flows freely and cleverly. This movie is a total crowd pleaser.
If James Wan really has left the horror genre, he did so at the top of his game. After several good to great films, The Conjuring reveals him to be a true master of the genre. It’s the best supernatural horror movie in over a decade and I suspect it will be seen as a classic in years to come.
From my review, “I’ve always loved the air-tight swiss watch quality of Wright and Pegg’s screenplays, but this is the first time one of their films has been able to sting with such regularity. While Shaun built to an utterly heartbreaking moment where our hero is forced to kill his mother, there’s a constant familiar desperation to Gary’s plight that leaves our defenses weakened. The film jabs at us and then gets back to making us laugh with an admirable swiftness.” And for those of you who doubt that this film is horror, it has elements that give Invasion Of The Body Snatchers a run for its money. Also, there’s nothing scarier than an alcoholic friend hitting rock bottom.
Hey, it came out this year and I’ve never written any kind of opinion piece on it! So in celebration of upgrading my UK Blu-ray with a US version (which boasts a superior transfer), I’m putting this on my list. All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is a fantastic slasher film. Don’t let the distribution politics that held it up keep you from celebrating this as one of the year’s best.
Yes, I know I put this on my “Best Of” list in 2011. But now I’ve switched only including films in the year that they were released. You’re Next obviously qualifies in that regard and it felt like I’d be doing the film a disservice to not include it in a conversation about the best horror films of 2013. Because it’s one of them.
I’m in the minority here, but I find Plus One to be a rewardingly daring film. I think one of the issues is that it subverts almost every expectation, which I can totally see being frustrating for audiences. But, on its own terms, I found it to be one of the more engaging theatrical experiences of the year. Score another one for Dennis Iliadis. If you haven’t seen it, please give it a chance. Put your phone down and pay attention.
Franck Khalfoun’s remake of Maniac is, as I’ve said before, the Drive of horror (both in style and in narrative). I mean that as a total compliment. It glides along viciously on its pungent neon atmosphere abetted by a great performance from Elijah Wood. The whole thing will leave you utterly unsettled.
Chan-wook Park’s English language debut brings his visual mastery to the screen fully intact. But it also feels impressively “American,” as though he skipped the more mainstream elements of our cinematic culture and went right for the hermetically sealed type of world usually reserved for someone like Wes Anderson. Of course there’s a lot more f*cked up shit here than there normally is in an Anderson film. This is a highly sexual, emotionally violent meditation on the concept of “bad blood.”
I was a bit late to the party on this one but I’m so glad I watched it before pressing “publish” on this list. Writer/director/star Jeremy Gardner delivers a near masterpiece of a film on a scant budget of $6,000 dollars. While the film certainly doesn’t look expensive, it’s still able to pack a cinematic and emotional wallop. I’m still haunted by the final frames and touched by its portrayal of a reluctant bond forged under the worst of circumstances.
I so badly wanted to put Cheap Thrills on here but it isn’t out yet! I’m pretty sure Evan Katz fashioned a mini-masterpiece out of that film. Look for it on this list after its release next year. I also suspect you’ll be seeing Joe Begos’ Almost Human on there as well.
We also covered Gravity and Catching Fire on the site extensively and for good reason – both were great! I actually think Gravity is a masterpiece of suspense and Catching Fire is one of the best blockbusters we’ve had in years. Both have elements that appeal to our readers, but with so many strong “traditional” horror films this year I decided to focus on those in my list. Also, Bad Milo! may have felt slight, but I enjoyed it so much that it was also jockeying for a position on this list.