Editor’s Note: Justin here! All month long we’ve been posting lists containing our top horror picks of 2013, and our regular contributor Josh Soriano (one of the main driving forces behind our A LOOK BACK and EXPLOITATION ALLEY columns!) has selected his ten choices. Read on below!
10 – EVIL DEAD Let’s face it, if each one of our beloved horror classics were its own train, they’d all stop in Remaketown at some point. I’m ok with that when there are remakes like EVIL DEAD. Instead of trying to replace the original, this one maintains respect towards the legacy and becomes the coolest, nastiest, alternative possible. The best part? Even if the welcome wears after a few viewings, you can still have a blast by showing it to others and watching them react to the projectile blood vomit and eye stabbing with a needle. 9 – THE CONJURING This is kind of an oxymoron, but I didn’t personally find this film to be very frightening–I did, however, find it to be extremely well made. It makes my list because, even if you’ve seen a million haunted house films before it, THE CONJURING manages to still entertain and feel like your favorite haunted house film from the 1970s. Their are great performances all around from the cast as well. Maybe if that guy who I had to yell at during the movie wasn’t talking in every quiet moment, I’d have gotten more into the experience. 8 – INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 I swear that James Wan didn’t offer me any money to put two of his films in my “Best of 2013” (maybe he should have though, right?). Really the guy just had a great year. If Insidious were the promising first-born child who will someday become someone important, CHAPTER 2 is the incredibly disturbed antithesis brother who is actually pretty cool when he’s not trying to kill you. There hasn’t been a sequel that’s ran this far off the rails since THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. 7 – THE LORDS OF SALEM Speaking of Rob Zombie and insanity, LORDS OF SALEM may be my favorite movie of his yet. There are times when I think he’s a hack and then there are times when I think his most charming attribute is that he just doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I’m a big fan of anything with satanic/witchcraft themes running through it and Lords doesn’t disappoint in that area. Take the fever dream aspect of MESSIAH OF EVIL, add visuals in the vein of Ken Russell or Jodorowsky, then combine them with THE SENTINEL and you’ll have this slow-burn witch opus. LORDS OF SALEM is a highly bizarre film that I’m not even sure always works. But if that doesn’t make you want to watch it, nothing will. 6 – BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO Anyone will tell you that I’m Giallo crazy. Italian horror and the 70s go together like E.T. and the Amblin Entertainment logo. What impresses me so much about BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO though isn’t what we see but hear and feel. Toby Jones plays a sound engineer who may be losing his mind while working on a giallo film in post production. This is another slow burn into insanity but, in this case, the film itself intends to disorientate the viewer by focusing on the audio aspects rather than a clear narrative and offering no subtitles even though everyone, except Jones, speaks Italian. Is he working on a movie or is he in the movie he’s working on? 5 – WARM BODIES If you told me in the beginning of the year that a zombie film would be in my top, I would have laughed at you. No offense to modern zombies but they just don’t make them like they used to. Maybe I’m a zombie purist and have been burnt out on the 200 new zombie films being released every week–and maybe I was wrong. Jonathan Levine reinstated my faith that a quality film with the undead could not only be possible but also touching. WARM BODIES does exactly what the title suggest all while spinning the genre just enough to make it feel fresh again. Levine also directed ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE which everyone is putting on their “Best Of” lists this year. 4 – UNDER THE BED Most modern horror films with children are pretty tame. While there are still some great ones there weren’t any that had the attitude of the ones I grew up with. We’re so concerned now with keeping a film PG-13 to reach a broader audience or hiding the darkness from children in every way that our portrayal of them is handled with kid gloves (no pun intended). The irony is that real life is much worse than anything a film could conjure up. In movies like THE MONSTER SQUAD or THE GATE, kids behaved the way they really do: swearing, looking at nudie mags and getting into some serious danger. I figured, with the politically correct culture we live in, films like this were long gone. I’m happy to say I was wrong. UNDER THE BED brings us back to that era by offering a pretty gruesome horror film with some relatively intense sequences that don’t hold back, despite half the cast being under 16. Steven C. Miller, who also directed 2012‘s underrated SILENT NIGHT, takes a basic premise that could have easily been done safely and slashes its throat. How often can you say that you witnessed one of the boys next door being decapitated by the grisly creature from under the bed? It goes to show that you don’t need excesses of money to make an amazing movie. 3 – YOU’RE NEXT I’m going to lay it on the line here and just admit publicly that I’ve never been a fan of Adam Wingard’s movies. They’ve always felt to me like the talent is there but it just hasn’t been fully realized. YOU’RE NEXT is that realization in its full face-smashing-blood-spraying glory. Think BAY OF BLOOD meets STRAW DOGS. Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard blow the doors off its hinges by creating a survival horror film so perfect that repeated viewings are mandatory. Sharni Vinson will hopefully go down in history as a worthy successor to Burt Reynolds in DELIVERANCE. Actually, Burt would likely get his ass handed to him by Vinson before he even realized it. Add the impeccable Aj Bowen (genre extraordinaire), a scene-stealing Joe Swanberg and a stellar performance by Barbara Crampton and you’ve got the smartest horror film ensemble since SCREAM. 2 – THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH Here’s another one with underlying elements of the occult but done in a completely opposite manner than Mr. Zombie usually seems capable of. ROSALIND leaves much to the imagination which works remarkably for its creep factor thanks to the focused direction of genre-fan, Rodrigo Gudino. Some of you may know his name as the founder of Rue Morgue. With a credit like that, expectations surely were high. I’m happy to say they are not only met, but succeeded, which is why the fact that this is also his first full length feature is so surprising. Any film that takes place in one location, with predominately one actor, showing very little and still raises the hair on the back of your neck, is a win in my book. 1 – STOKER Although it isn’t straight horror, this SHADOW OF A DOUBT-inspired film is still unsettling and brilliantly directed by Park Chan-wook. He doesn’t direct the film as much as he paints a visual poem for the viewer, polarizing us with every shot. It’s a disturbing portrait of the worst kind of evil–the kind that masquerades as everyday normal. While I wouldn’t suggest it to just anyone, instead I’ll say that if the dark side of human nature interests you, then this should be at the top of your list.