I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 2013 was a good year for horror. I wouldn't say that there was any one movie that really raised hell, but a horror doesn't have to be a game-changer to be a good film.
What's interesting are the themes running through the year's major horror outings: four stylish remakes, a lot of possession, and a whole lot of .
Most are supernatural, many focused on children being targeted by supernatural forces. It seems that the Paranormal Activity franchise has put demonic/ghostly/supernatural shenanigans at the top of the bill once again, although there's always room for some good old-fashioned home invasion and general sadism.
Here's a quick round-up of the years biggest hitters for horror. Enjoy!
Mama was a surprisingly weak film considering that had a producing role, but the competent cast - including Oscar winner and a mid-Game of Thrones - carried an movie that was otherwise horror-by-numbers (and not the good kind, like Zodiac). Still, there were some decent scares and my very favorite horror trope - creepy children - to keep things interesting.
Dark Skies (February)
An alien movie with a horror sensibility, much like vampire horror Daybreakers, Dark Skies made more than 7 times its budget at the box office. Produced by , who previously worked on the skin-crawlingly terrifying Sinister, Dark Skies provided a good mix of slow burn and sudden shock that made it a satisfying trip to the movie theater.
Evil Dead (March)
I was not only pleasantly surprised, but completely delighted by the skillful, comedic and massively violent remake of The Evil Dead. Without Bruce Campbell, it could all have gone horribly wrong, but by keeping tongue firmly in cheek (or, y'know, sliding over knives) Evil Dead managed to be something entirely of its own making. Culminating with possibly the most blood ever to fill a scene in an American horror movie, Evil Dead is a confidant gorefest with a great sense of humor.
The Lords of Salem (April)
I am a big fan of as a horror director, and while Lords of Salem doesn't achieve the horror auteurism of The Devil's Rejects or the dizzying brutality of his Halloween series, it was still a fun-filled splat-attack. Taking the urban legend of rock records hiding satanic messages as a starting point, Lords of Salem brings the myth to life in a virulent burst of color (mostly red, naturally). A must for Rob Zombie fans, but an interesting and enjoyably gory outing for horror hounds in general.
The Purge (June)
An effective - if fairly unfeasible - idea, and ultimately a less traumatizing version of The Strangers, The Purge was by no means a perfect movie, but it was certainly effective. Like Mama, a strong cast - and the wonderful - were let down by weak scripting, but the movie had a neat enough objective to hold it together and didn't drag a moment too long. If anything, The Purge was a movie rather like Elysium: high concept, not enough time to play it out. The Purge: Anarchy has already been scheduled due to the excellent box office performance, and hopefully the idea will be expanded over the sequel.
The Conjuring (July)
I really, really enjoyed The Conjuring, and not simply because my brain repeated 'I can't believe how beautiful is' every five minutes. Drawing on the ever-serviceable 'based on a true story', The Conjuring released a barrage of spooky possessed moments and effective jump-cuts, packing in demonic inanimate objects and haunted artifacts like the props department of The Twilight Zone had been having a clear-out. As silly as The Conjuring was at times, you may still find you experience shivers on that late night trip to the bathroom after viewing.
You're Next (August)
I'm going to count You're Next as a 2013 horror as this is the year it secured wider release, achieving a surprisingly strong run at the box office despite its low budget and indie-ish sensibilities. Its no-nonsense take on masked home invaders was compelling, packing a decent punch to the collective solar plexus of the viewing audience. A very cool viral marketing campaign and one of the best horror posters you've ever seen compounded the well-deserved hype.
We Are What We Are (September)
A remake of the 2010 Mexican horror of the same name, We Are What We Are was essentially a very classy 'freaky family' horror: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes seem to be influences, but the film also draws on more modern movies for inspiration. The slick production recalls the hyper-violent Aussie horror The Loved Ones, while the awkward family interactions give the merest of nods to Scandinavian parlor drama such as 's Das Fest. One to watch.
Insidious: Chapter 2 (September)
The unstoppable force of Wan & Whannell had another hit in 2013 with Insidious: Chapter 2, which - controversial - was less original but more scary than the previous movie. True, audiences knew what to expect of the demonic carnivale this time around, but the experience of viewing Insidious 2 made it more of an event than a mere movie, and the expansion of the franchise into a theme park attraction, and special double-bill screenings added to the feel of a good ol' timey trip to the movies. Insidious: Chapter 3 is already in the works.
Carrie was not the best movie of the year, by any means. Taking on a classic is always going to be risky, particularly one as iconic and beloved as Carrie. While acclaimed indie director 's horror suffered for slightly weak dialogue, it delivered a gratifying deluge of the red stuff, and is always captivating to watch. The idea that she and can hide their radiance and charisma behind a few local yokel accessories may be sorely misguided, but the profoundly terrifying storyline of Carrie ultimately shone through.
Bad Milo! (October)
Bad Milo chews, retches and scatologically jokes its way through its demented plot as if the 80's never happened, paying homage as much to the mighty as much as the Basket Case series. The appearance of 'intestinal gremlin' Milo into Duncan's () life ends in a jolly explosion of style gore that will enliven all who believe that comedy-horror should be more Braindead than Scary Movie.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (October)
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was made in 2006 but a distribution screw-up meant that it took seven years to get it released. Many horrors from earlier in the naughties - particularly those riding the wave of Millenium bug-panicked tech-horror - may not have stood the test of time, but All the Boys Love Mandy Lane still looks as sun-kissed and blood-spattered as ever. A fresh-faced, almost unbearably beautiful stars in the titular role, breathing new life into many intertwining horror themes: the isolated ranch, the hooded killer, the obsession of the lustful stalker. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is a well-crafted little gem of a horror movie, and I'm grateful that it finally got the wider audience it deserves.
Obviously, this is only a quick round-up of the year's horror treats, so feel free to let rip about any overlooked nuggets that made your year a little more delightfully chilling and gory...Happy New Year, folks!