Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

Staci Layne Wilson's Picks

These lists are always difficult, given the fact that we as reviewers see movies at film festivals (which may or not ever be released), online screeners for VOD releases, and those going straight to disc. Therefore, in order to make this more relatable to the casual horror fan, I’ve narrowed my love and loathe lists down to USA theatrical releases only, ordered by date. (If I didn’t mention a movie, then that probably means it just didn’t move me one way or another.)

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

Warm Bodies (February 1)
Sure, it's PG13 so don't expect any Deadgirl gratuitous rapes or any cheeky "how about a little head?" jokes, a la Evil Dead 2 between the male and female leads here. But the flick’s got heart. Here’s the gist: R is a hoodie-wearing disaffected youth, affected by a zombie plague that's swept the world and divided the undead from humankind. He's fine just eating brains and listening to records on the hi-fi in his hipster bachelor pad – until he meets a warm-bodied mortal girl, Julie. It's clichéd, but it’s also cute and charming, not to mention well-acted (Rob Corddry steals the show) and entertaining.

Stoker (2013)Stoker (March 1)
A sinister, suspenseful, tawdry and fun thriller, Stoker is the first English language film from Korean auteur Park Chan-Wook. "Stoker" is also the surname of its fictional family — played by Nicole Kidman as the sexy, icy mom; Mia Wasikowska as her secretive, misfit teenage daughter; and Matthew Goode as the mysterious, malevolent uncle — but Stoker has nothing at all to with Dracula novelist, Bram. It's just another delightfully crimson red herring in a flick that's full of them. The story has a very Tennessee Williams-meets-Alfred Hitchcock feel to it with Park’s hyper-stylized sensibility. It's oozing with spider webs of dread and tension, punctuated with the occasional splat of horror.

Antiviral (April 2013)
"Long live the new flesh!" The son of body-horror king David Cronenberg, Brandon Cronenberg may seem like a clone born of a test tube with his directorial debut, Antiviral. But the younger Cronenberg adds yet another dimension to the family legacy in a truly striking and unforgettable instant classic, with a keen aesthetic eye and the ability to coax intense yet subtle performances.

Evil Dead (April 12)
Employing practical effects (only occasionally augmented with CGI enhancement), the supernatural murder and mayhem offers something truly garish and gruesome to behold... not since The Shining’s elevator scene have I seen so much blood (in fact, the forest even rains red at one point). Bodies – living, possessed, and dead – are violated in all sorts of ways, ranging from tree limbs to chainsaws to nail guns to fireplace pokers and even an electric carving knife. Not a single punch is pulled. And yet, while visually more violent and destructive than, say, a Saw or a Hostel movie, Evil Dead feels less skeevy. It’s not an exploitation film; it’s old-school horror.

Maniac (June 21)
The story isn’t much. And the structure is not much different from the 1980 original. It’s about a socially awkward, artistic misfit with OCD who somehow manages to kill with impunity but without detection as his reeking abode collects flies by the gross. As in the original, our Maniac (Elijah Wood) meets an attractive, fresh-faced female photographer and becomes obsessed with her. What elevates Maniac from being just another sickening slasher are technique, style, pacing and mood. It’s certainly one of the best "serious" horror movies I’ve seen in quite some time, elegantly and carefully crafted from start to finish. It is not for everyone, as it is arty and outré - a bloodthirsty and beautiful curio with a standout soundtrack and mannequins that menace to creepy perfection.

The Conjuring (July 19)
The Conjuring is based upon the real life supernatural crime case of Ed and Lorraine Warren, founders of New England Center for Psychic Research (est. 1952). It’s set in the early 1970s, before the Warrens became famous for their work in regard to The Amityville Horror. With a feel reminiscent of director James Wan’s previous haunted hit, Insidious - and a touch of "American Horror Story" Season One - The Conjuring covers the chain of terrifying events which plagued the Perron family from the moment they moved into a fixer-upper farmhouse. Wan pulls no punches, even when it comes to the jump scares, and delivers on all the promise he showed in his earlier, almost-there devil-doll horror film Dead Silence.

Horror movies I liked:
The Lords of Salem, We Are What We Are, Carrie, You’re Next, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, The Curse of Chucky

Genre movies I loved:
Blue Ruin, Side Effects, Only God Forgives, The Wall (German), Blancanieves (Spanish), Pacific Rim

Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013

Mama (January 2013)
I have no idea why Mama was marketed as a "modest" thriller, propaganda stating it employed the "less is more" approach. I saw the full-on ghost, from head-to-toe and even in extreme, unflinching close-up, time and time again, throughout the film. The ghost ain't shy, that's for sure.

The Last Exorcism Part II  (2013)The Last Exorcism Part II (March 1)
An exorcism in futility, this pointless follow-up quickly goes to hell in a hand-basket leaving the viewer in a purgatory of pure boredom.

Scary Movie 5 (April 11)
Black Swan and 127 Hours are sent up along with the usual traditional horror flicks a la Paranormal Activity and Sinister. The only thing really scary, or funny, about Scary Movie is the idea there’s going to be a Scary Movie 6.

Black Rock (May 17)
A wannabe distaff Deliverance, this talky, bitchy hipster vanity project from writer-director-star Katie Aselton falls flat at every turn.

The Purge (June 7)
Intriguing concept: In a futuristic society, for one night a year, murder may be committed without consequences of any kind. This should bring up all kinds of possible moral and legal questions and conversations, but apparently the filmmakers didn't care about delving into the speculative possibilities. Instead, they chose to make a big, dumb home invasion horror.

Oldboy (November 24)
Oldboy is a remake of the well regarded Korean revenge thriller directed by Park Chan-Wook (which, in turn, was based on a Japanese manga). Unintentionally funny, overwrought and turgid, everything is lost in translation.

Horror movies I didn’t like:
World War Z, Byzantium, Come Out & Play, The Green Inferno

Did not see:
Texas Chainsaw 3D, Hell Baby, V/H/S/2, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Is the End, The World's End, American Mary, The Monkey’s Paw

[Andrew Kasch]

[Anthony Arrigo]

[Brad McHargue]

[Buz "Danger" Wallick]

[Debi "The Woman in Black" Moore]

[The Foywonder]

[Gareth "Pestilence" Jones]



[Scott "Doctor Gash" Hallam]

[Staci Layne Wilson]

[Uncle Creepy]



I loved grabbers! i cant believe more people dont have that in their top, nicely shot and a bit of fun!Gotta have warm bodies there too just for that "something different" appeal, new look on zombies going for the relationship thing, twas funny too, kinda like a take on shaun of the dead

Submitted by aries11 on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 8:38pm.

A new Zombie film short called the first wave might be what your looking for, just saw this on io9, http://io9.com/what-happens-after-medicine-finds-a-way-to-fight-the-zo-1... , its like a kinda cure movie i think, with like a new take on what happens after the zombies are cured? check it out anyway, it looks nicely shot

Submitted by zom6 on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 9:43pm.
Cash Bailey's picture

My overall favourite movie of 2013 was easily THE WORLD'S END. A perfect capper to a flawless trilogy.

Worst movie of the year may be SILENT HILL: REVELATION. Michael J. Bassett seems like a really nice guy and a technically solid director, but he can't write for shit.

Submitted by Cash Bailey on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 1:13am.
GODFLESH69's picture

Skarkboy that's cool I thought Elysium delivered Pac Rim while a visual feast when you could see what was going on( i didn't fork out the extra coin for IMAX ) didn't deliver the goods when it came to the Kaiju & Jaeger battles the other Jaegers were just dispatched so quickly we didn't really get to see them do much or really care about their pilots and to me the Kaiju designs were not really that interesting way too similiar this had so much potential to be EPIC but what i got was alot of filler bad writing and annoying characters putting off the tone of the film way too much comic relief to my liking for a film supposed to be about mankinds last stand against extinction. I grew up on Godzilla & ULTRAMAN i can only hope Godzilla 2014 delivers more but not too optimistic given the director, MONSTERS was a bore. That's what makes us individuals though and like to hear other's opinions even though they don't reflect my own all the time,enjoy .

Submitted by GODFLESH69 on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 12:34pm.
MonsterMash's picture

Monsters is boring. It put me to sleep, and I can count on one hand the number of movies that have done that to me. As far as I'm concerned, It's gonna be a good fan film. Toho and monster in suit is where it's at. I'm excited, but the best Godzilla movies have already been made. As for your rejection towards Pacific Rim, I suggest that you merely saw the Asylum mockbuster, and not the raw cinematic carnage that the rest of us enjoyed.

Submitted by MonsterMash on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 5:30pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

So you're complaining about Pacific Rim's cinematography being unbearably shaky, but not Elysium's? I completely get your other complaints (not that I agree with them), but that's a new one!
You must truly hate Michael Bay's Transformer films.

See, I found the filler to be perfectly adequate and fun; similar in structure to most old Kaiju movies (even the climax resembled the end of some of the Mechagodzilla movies).
I thought del Toro's well designed glossy production, harmless sense of humour, and fun mix of cheesy characters made for the perfect string to tie the big battle set-pieces together. It's not trying to be more than it knows it is, and I respected that. Plus, that freakin' soundtrack generates some serious eargasms.

And no worries, Monsters may have been a bore (though I kinda loved it), but it certainly had atmosphere. I think Gareth Edwards will do a fine job of mirroring the original Godzilla's darker tones (in which case, you'd get a proper "mankinds last stand against extinction" vibe).

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 1:03pm.
Rob's picture

Best (in no particular order)

You're Next
Pacific Rim
The Conjuring
Evil Dead
V/H/S 2

And special shout-out to NBC's Hannibal. Bring on Season 2!

I actually don't have a worst list, because none of the other movies I saw I really disliked, those being Carrie (I thought Chloe, Gabriella Wilde and Judy Greer kept it from being abysmal), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (which was just fun), and No One Lives, which was dumb as hell but it didn't bug me though I think the main actress was horrendous. Actually I would've rather seen a back-story movie about Luke Evans and Laura Ramsey's characters than the actual movie. But those were the only other films I saw.

Submitted by Rob on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 12:28am.

My Top films

1. The Seasoning House - I would put this top for much the same reason as 12 years A lave. A disturbing look at the sexual violence commited against youing girls in conflict zones, in this case the worst acts of genocide since WW2 during the 1990's Blakans War. That it manages to portray these events so realistically and brutally within the context of a suspensefull thriller is a testament its director, Paul Hyett. Truely incredible performance by Rosie Day as Anglel aswell

2. Stoker - I never got the love for OldBoy but watching this in the cinema was one of the most surprising and enyoyable movie expereinces of 2013.

3. Pacific Rim - I know that yes, the characters are underdeveloped and cliche, the story ain the most complex but dammit Del Toro TOTALLY knocks it out of the park with the robot v monster scenes with his signature and mesmirizing visual style combining excellently with the fight scene's sense of scale. Brought out the 10 year old kid in me.

4. American Mary - At times explicit but equally smart, sexy and darkly humorous the Soska Sister’s have followed up their Dead Hooker’s In a Trunk with a masterpiece. Incorporating a broader female revenge narrative arc with more complex concepts of body modification and perceptions of beauty they have, however, created a quite intriguing story and character in Katherine Isabelle’s Mary Mason.

5. Dark Touch - In the same year that the Carrie remake came out another superior film with elements of Carrie snuck in largely unnoticed. Though other elements of the film are not perfect its damning and underlying themesof child abuse are as powerfull as the main characters subsequent manifestaion of telekitnic poers

6. Byztanium - I admit I have never seen Interview with a vampire or In The Coimpany of Wolves but I was pleasently surprised with this film due to the lukewarm reviews i previously heard. Among its strenghs were its beautifull look, engaging and well played characters and an interesting and quite original narrative in vampire terms.

7. We Are What We Are - Another example of how to succesfully do a remake respect the original but bring your own ideas to the tableable.Jim Mickle did just that with this.

8. Contracted - A quite impressive little indie film I caught at frightfest.

9. Frankenstein's Army - Extremely imaginative creature design made up for the films drawbacks in other elements. A true sight on the big screen.


Texas Chainsaw 3D - 5 minutes in - I was thinking, where the hell did all these extra guys in the house come from?, 10 minutes in, very bored, 15 minutes in - turned it off.

Evil Dead - not a bad film but very forgettable. Beyond the gore, the original was both scary, creepy and blackly comic in parts. The remake is none of these things. The only reaction I got from it was that it was gross, like Hostel or the later Saw sequels are gross but in no way horrifying. I can apprieciate the work that went into the practical effects and I admit the characters and story were mildly interesting but, as I say, where the original was succesfully creepy and blackly comic this has no unique character because it treats its characters and story so seriously while amping up the gore.

Submitted by Hicks on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:59pm.
GODFLESH69's picture

just watched Byztanium was solid and Gemma Arterton is easy to look at damn she's fine!!!

Submitted by GODFLESH69 on Sun, 01/05/2014 - 11:21pm.

Forgot to add Sleep Tight aswell. That is an excellent film aswell. The Seasoning House would still be top though. Portrays the disgusting and tragic acts that really happened in real life to these girls very well. To pull back on its depiction would be a disservice to the real life victims. Same thing might be happening in Syria now.

Submitted by Hicks on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:40pm.


*12 Years A Slave

Submitted by Hicks on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:32pm.
frank_dracman's picture

So you missed the best part of Texas Chainsaw, the magic shirt! Go get 'em, cuz!

Submitted by frank_dracman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:17pm.
moderator That shirt was fucking
Steve Barton's picture

That shirt was fucking tenacious!

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:27pm.
frank_dracman's picture

Yes! That DFF made me laugh out loud. Stupid movie but it gave you guys some great material.

Submitted by frank_dracman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 4:28pm.

I hated that shirt!
She must have had her nipples glued to it or something

Submitted by will graham on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 4:21pm.

she just had perfect nipple placement.

Submitted by Chernobyl Kinsman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 4:55pm.


Submitted by will graham on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 5:45pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

Off the top of my head, I'd say the best (that've been covered on DC) are:

10: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
9: Grabbers
8: The World's End
7: Curse of Chucky
6: V/H/S/2
5: Evil Dead (2013)
4: Maniac
3: Prisoners
2: Gravity
1: Pacific Rim

Honorable mentions would probably be American Mary, This Is The End, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, and Riddick.

As for the worst (I haven't hated much this year - even the first 2 on this list I don't entirely dislike. I suppose I enjoy too many movies):

6: Aftershock
5: World War Z
4: After Earth
3: Elysium
2: Oblivion
1: Texas Chainsaw 3D

Not covered by DC, but Man Of Steel gets first place alongside Texas Chainsaw 3D.

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:48pm.

I really liked grabbers too, the colour/grading on it is really nice, a good watch, Prisoners was really good too, nice bit of tension all the way through, puts you in everyones shoes, well made!

Submitted by zom6 on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 5:15pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

Grabbers is indeed very awesome. I've yet to encounter someone who genuinely dislikes it (though by saying that I'm sure someone will come out and say it soon).
But Prisoners was incredible man! Haven't experienced a thriller so gripping and moody in atmosphere since Se7en. I tell you those 153 minutes went by real smoothly. Too bad it didn't get more recognition at the Oscars.

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Mon, 01/27/2014 - 7:09pm.
GODFLESH69's picture

Sharkboy 5 on your top 10 aren't even horror !!! I would switch Pac Rim job with Elysium dont get the hate for that flick it's a sci fi classic to me anyways but whatever floats your boat.

Submitted by GODFLESH69 on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:55pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

I know they weren't necessarily horror, but DC covered them, so I figured that still counts, right?

And nah, Elysium was a nauseating experience, and way too pretentious for my likings. Over hyped. I much preferred District 9.

And I totally get the hate for Specific Rim. All the arguments are valid. I just don't agree with them - probably cos I have the biggest soft spot for Kaiju films. It set out to be an awesome visual feast of a kaiju movie, and accomplished just that!

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:07pm.

I agree with Pacific Rim. I didnt go into it expecting a oscar winning story or well developed characters, I went into hoping it would deliver on its main draw of massive robots fighting monsters. And boy did it deliver in that regard. Gutted I missed it in Theatres as I was put off by the many bad reviews.

Submitted by Hicks on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:45pm.
frank_dracman's picture

Glad I'm not the only one who thought Elysium was garbage. It was as subtle as a Miley Cyrus video and Damon only has one setting- boring. We wanted it to be good, but man did it misfire.

Submitted by frank_dracman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 3:13pm.

Newp, Elysium was pretty fucking terrible. Also I started thinking 'Hey this is a bit like Johnny Mnemonic' BEFORE they had the whole data in the head thing.

That girl talking to him about the hippo with the bird on its back or whatever, what the shit was that? I literally couldn't believe what I was hearing.

Submitted by Chernobyl Kinsman on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 1:30am.
frank_dracman's picture

Did someone say Johnny Mnemonic?! I know it's a dumb movie but damned if I don't love it. Dina Meyer is stupid hot and it's got Henry Rollins, Takeshi Kitano AND Lundgren? How is this not a cult classic? I know what I'm watching tonight. Thanks, dude!

Submitted by frank_dracman on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 9:34am.

Hah, yeah, its stupid but I have a huge soft spot for it as well.

Submitted by Chernobyl Kinsman on Sat, 01/04/2014 - 2:43pm.
aliensharkboy's picture

RICH = BAD. POOR = GOOD. One of the only films I actually tried to sleep through in order to avoid feeling sick (due to the shaky-cam). Unbearable.

Submitted by aliensharkboy on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 9:30pm.
frank_dracman's picture

Oh man, I totally forgot about that horrendous shaky cam. That movie is all kinds of forgettable.

Bilbo, Frodo, Dildo, Sleepy or Doc. I really don't care at all about those movies. Bilbo must be the main Hobbit in the new movies, hence my brain fart.

Submitted by frank_dracman on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 10:52pm.

dildo sleepy and doc hahahahaha lol

Submitted by zom6 on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 5:17pm.

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