2013 was a mixed bag of horror movies. Every once in awhile you’d find a Twix but most of the time it was just a bunch of Good ’N Plenty… Good ’N Plenty suck by the way. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be a Shocktober countdown without “John’s Top Five Horror Movies of 2013” Let us ride into the night!
A mid-summer hit, The Conjuring drew in the big bucks for director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) and American heartthrob Patrick Wilson. the film details the true story of paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) during their investigation of the Peron family haunting in 1971. The look is old school with the scares to match. Tension takes precedent over gore or gratuitous spectacle, making The Conjuring a more character-driven horror film. It’s nothing miraculously different but it’s a nice change of pace from the usual slasher and/or found footage fare.
Riding the festival circuit on good buzz for the past few years, You’re Next finally received a theatrical release. Directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way to Die) You’re Next is a home invasion movie with a twist. Unlike your classic slasher flick where all the victims are completely useless, one young woman, Erin (Sharni Vinson) is intelligent and resourceful fighting off a trio of animal-masked killers. Top that off with a good sense of humor and excellent use of the 1970s pop song “Looking for the Magic” by Dwight Twilley and you’ve got one helluva toboggan ride.
The sequel to the 2012 anthology film V/H/S, V/H/S/2 is an even crazier collection of found-footage splatter films. Gareth Huw Evans helms the most effective segment with the religious thriller “Safe Haven” but it’s all worth checking out. I liked it better than the previous installment.
Though not a horror film per se, Oldboy director Park Chan-wook’s American debut Stoker is scary enough to be a horror movie. Likely inspired by Shadow of Doubt, considering it features a sinister uncle (Matthew Goode), Stoker is a collection of unhinged characters in a violent world. Goode, Nicole Kidman, and Mia Wasikowska all give unique yet equally unsettling performances.
My number one pick goes to the underrated debut from Andres Muschietti. Adapted from his own short film, Mama is a gothic fairy tale about two girls lost after a family tragedy, only to be rediscovered years later, feral and scared. They are taken in by their uncle (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his rocker girlfriend (Jessica Chastain) but something isn’t right. The girls won’t stop talking about someone who raised them in the woods called, “Mama”. But who or what is Mama? The results are as beautiful as they are terrifying.
Happy Halloween everybody!