It’s that time of the year again where we take a look back at the best horror movies of 2013. Our staff grappled with their souls to decide which horror movie was their favorite from the past year.
Christine Caprilozzi, Sr. Editor: “The Purge” & “Found”
I must admit, this year I feel a bit torn about picking a “must see” horror film of the year. While I really liked many original films, my favorite horror movie of 2013 would have to be “The Purge.” Not a remake or reboot, the film is a totally fresh idea that’s intensely terrifying both in a suspenseful, as well as just creepy way. Seriously, those masks!
The one aspect of The Purge that is very intriguing is that the entire plot is based on the concept of the thinning of the herd mixed with a biting social commentary on the wealthy versus the poor. While the wealthy can afford these “purge protectors,” the not so wealthy are left to fend for themselves. Without giving too much away, the mayhem starts when the young boy lets a homeless man in the family’s comfortable and protected home, as he is targeted by the young and wealthy on the one night they are allowed to kill at will. This act of humanity sets off a chain reaction of horrific situations. The best part for me is that some of the social interactions and insinuations of the film are not that farfetched.
Yes, I know, I’m only supposed to pick one. I can’t in good conscious write this article without giving huge kudos to the indie flick “Found.” Still making the rounds on the festival circuit, this gem by Scott Schirmer was made on just an $8000 budget. It’s unique in the fact that it is story driven and seen through the eyes of an 11 year old boy. This movie is gory as hell, and very much pushes the boundaries, while at the same time maintaining the humanity of the two brothers. Not much scares me after many years of watching horror. However, I was truly disturbed. That right there makes “Found” one to watch.
Sean Brickley, Staff Journalist: “Maniac (2013)”
I knew when I first watched this movie that when HNN did the 2013 staff picks, Maniac would be my choice. Elijah Wood – holy crap. I can’t say enough about how impressed I was with this guy. That’s not saying that he isn’t an established, acclaimed actor; not at all. But as a sociopath Mr. Wood brilliantly knocks it out of the park! The use of the first person throughout most of the movie was a perfectly executed concept. Even costar Nora Arnezeder was an outstanding choice as a successful photographer with a subtle touch of naivety. There really isn’t anything negative to be said about this movie. It had a creepy atmosphere, the death scenes were great, and the story was made very believable, again thanks a great deal to Elijah Wood’s rock solid performance.
Giving credit where it’s due, my honorable mentions for pick of the year are Texas Chainsaw & The Conjuring.
Blood E. Bastard, Staff Journalist: “Berberian Sound Studio”
When film sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) is beckoned to Rome to complete the sound track for giallo horror film ala Mario Bava – the forces separating art, life, dream and reality meld into one.
Though we never see any of the action of the film he is working on, The Equestrian Vortex, the creation of the soundtrack makes for adequate horror. Director, Peter Strickland draws influence without copying from the likes of Kafka, Coppola, Antonioni, De Palma and Argento. Berberian Sound Studio is a horror film for film making lovers.
Larry Dwyer, Staff Journalist: “Holliston – Season 2”
Well, here we are with our year-end favorite movie picks. It seems like just yesterday that we were doing last year’s picks and I had a tie between “American Mary” and “Cabin in the Woods”. At the time, it was a tough choice for me between the two gems but over the past year, I’ve re-watched “American Mary” loads more times so, in retrospect, the Soska sisters win that battle. This year is inherently more difficult as the few films that I considered for this spot are already being discussed by some of my pals here on the site. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, it finally dawned on me; my favorite film of the year wasn’t a film at all! My vote goes to “Holliston: Season 2”. From the touchy-feely Christmas episode, to Danielle Harris’ turn as Adam’s new girlfriend, to Kane Hodder’s role as a suicidal crybaby (I hope he doesn’t read this), Season 2 of “Holliston” provided me with all of the gore-filled laughter that I needed. Here’s to hoping we get a Season 3 to see what becomes of our beloved Joe, Adam, Corri and Laura! Cheers!
Rob Caprilozzi, Site Admin: “The Evil Dead (2013)”
In my opinion, a good horror movie stays with you for at least a few days after you see it. This is why The Evil Dead gets my vote for movie of the year.
The movie featured many cringe-worthy scenes and enough blood to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. There were many “Holy shit” moments in the film but the scene that stood out to me the most was when the girl was cutting her arm off with an electric knife. (I will be using one of those at Christmas to cut the turkey!)
The best part about The Evil Dead 2013 was that the action NEVER let up! From start to finish, we were treated to a non-stop gore-fest! This is why The Evil Dead 2013 gets my vote for the best of the year.
Bill Burns, Staff Journalist: “Lords of Salem”
My favorite film of 2013 is Lords of Salem. For his fifth film, Rob Zombie has made an atypical Rob Zombie film. Moody, slower, ominous, and mercifully cutting down on the Tarantino-esque dialogue, Lords of Salem feels like a complete, personal statement. The film takes on a ritualistic aura and pace, a true glorification of darkness, witchcraft, and the black arts. Appropriating the apocryphal statement of Billy Graham about The Exorcist, there is a power of evil in Lords of Salem, in the fabric of the film itself. All the male characters are weak and ineffectual. The female characters are largely middle-aged, defiant, and menacing. Zombie perfectly captures the ominous New England autumnal atmosphere and the pacing accentuates this mood rather than running counter to it. The performances are uniformly great (yes, even the much maligned Sheri Moon Zombie is good), but Meg Foster in particular possesses her role and transforms herself into the embodiment of the left hand path. Zombie’s direction is quite understated with brilliant surrealistic flashes of Kubrick, Russell, Polanski, and Argento, but these references are secondary to Zombie’s own artistic interests and compositions. Put it this way, if you are a horror director and you haven’t been influenced by The Shining, The Devils, Altered States, Rosemary’s Baby, The Tenant, and Suspiria then you’re in the wrong occupation. Zombie’s use of color and sound are mesmerizing, especially the over saturated room 5 and the recurring use of screeching viola, whether it be emanating from John 5’s excellent score or John Cale’s iconic drone as heard in “Venus in Furs” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” I was only slightly disappointed in the title sequence, because Zombie could do better, (I think the title sequence for The Devil’s Rejects is one of the best in cinema history), but with subsequent viewings it’s perfect.
Unfortunately, Rob Zombie’s best film was unceremoniously dumped in as few theaters as possible with as few showings as possible. Years from now, when the Lords return, their vengeance will not be exacted on the citizens of Salem but on those who foolishly dismissed this uniquely powerful film.
Sean McLaughlin, Staff Journalist: “The Conjuring”
Growing up in Monroe, CT, the Warrens and their trail of exorcisms and ghost-hunting were very well known. For decades, Hollywood has been re-enacting their cases of possession and demonic happenings with quite a few productions (The Amityville Horror and A Haunting in Connecticut, among others). When it was first revealed that one of their earliest cases, that of the Perron family in rural Rhode Island, would be made into a feature film, horror fans had their reservations. With gore-porn and found footage movies completely dominating the horror genre, there was some trepidation that a simple ghost story set in the 1970s would be worth a look. Luckily, with this year’s release of The Conjuring, New Line Cinema has served notice that good ol’ fashioned ghost stories still have a place in the realm of modern American cinema.
Director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) continues his string of creative and game-changing productions with The Conjuring. Sure, it has it’s somewhat-predictable plot (it IS based on “true events”, after all) and makes sure to include the requisite “jumpy” scenes to make sure nobody’s too comfortable in their chairs. But above everything else, this movie has a continual sense of doom and foreboding terror that resonates with both horror fans and the casual movie-goers (who filled up the theaters over the summer to the tune of $42 million domestically). When a movie receives an R rating, despite the fact that there is no blood and zero bad words…that speaks volumes. Without a doubt, The Conjuring was one of the best horror films of 2013. If you have yet to see it, what’re you waiting for?
There you have it horror fans. 2013’s best of the best. Agree? Disagree? Let us know.