Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013
Debi "The Woman in Black" Moore's Picks
I wasn't going to do a list this year - it's been super busy, and I still had to help edit and post everyone else's picks. But then I looked in my trusty notebook in which I rank all the horror movies I watched over the past year. There were some really great films that people need to know about - as well as a good bit of crap that they should avoid. So, what could I do but grab some coffee, throw in a load of laundry ("multi-tasking" is my middle name these days), and set aside a few minutes to share this Woman's thoughts on 2013, a year that I, for one, am quite happy to kick in its ass on its way out the door.
Before getting to the cream of the crop, here are a few Honorable Mentions. Leading the sci-fi pack, of course, is a masterpiece that's showing up on a lot of mainstream top of the year lists, Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, and it's joined in both star power and unrelenting tension by Prisoners, a real tour de force for stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman.
The best indie I saw was Would You Rather?, which is bolstered by yet another standout performance from Jeffrey Combs. V/H/S/2 earned the "Comeback of the Year" Award while the biggest surprise was how much The Call didn't suck. Let's also bestow that comeback title on Brad Anderson, who was long overdue for a strong showing. And when it comes to 2013's two high-profile apocalyptic comedies, I have to give a slight edge to This Is the End over The World's End, but it's slight indeed - both are well worth a watch (or re-watch).
Sleep Tight (Mientras duermes) - Some entries on this list are more along the lines of what I enjoyed most or stuck with me the longest rather than technically the "best" of what I saw all year, but hands down Sleep Tight was THE best film of 2013 for me in every category, despite the fact that it was also the first film I saw last year. It definitely left a lasting impression, to say the least. The performances, especially Luis Tosar as César; the sparse, taut direction by Jaume Balagueró; and just the overall icky idea of what we're watching unfold on the screen were second to none in my humble opinion.
Frankenstein's Army - Fun with a capital "F" and some of the craziest, most over-the-top creatures you're likely to see this year, next year, or ever! Just another reason for my love affair with Karel Roden (which began with one of my Best of 2006's picks, The Abandoned) to continue unabashed and unabated.
Warm Bodies - What can I say? I'm just a big softie for a cute zombie, and Nicholas Hoult's "R" was the cutest we've ever seen. This is another film that played very early in the year but stayed with me, and a nice side effect was that writer/director Jonathan Levine's All The Boys Love Mandy Lane finally got the release it deserved after seven long years of limbo.
Evil Dead - A pretty good example of how to do a remake right (as opposed to #3 on the list below), Fede Alvarez's reboot lives and dies on the strength of its Ash character (in this case, a female druggie named Mia), and Jane Levy does not disappoint. They put her through the ringer, and she shines in one of the gutsiest performances of the year.
The Conjuring - The Conjuring is in that rarest of the rare breed of films that I watched twice and liked even more the second time around. As spooky haunted house stories go, this is for sure one of the better ones we've seen lately. And as long as Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson return as the Warrens, we'll keep showing up for as many sequels as there are creepy cases that they worked on.
And lastly, a quick special shout-out to all the great horror TV shows like "Hannibal," "Bates Motel," "Sleepy Hollow," "Grimm," "The Walking Dead," "In the Flesh," "Being Human," and "American Horror Story: Coven" that provided the best chills and thrills of the year by far.
What films weren't so successful? Well, I feel like I dodged a lot of bullets last year because of simply not having the time to watch the ones I was pretty sure wouldn't be very good. As for those I couldn't escape or that fooled me into thinking they had promise, the Bottom 5 would have to be:
No One Lives - Dullsville and a real missed opportunity with a cast and crew that certainly sounded good on paper… wait… what?
Despite their obvious differences, these two films had a lot in common, including being among the worst of what I watched in 2013. So much potential… so little enjoyment. As Gareth has said, "no one cared" about No One Lives while The Purge inexplicably cleaned up at the box office and has a sequel on the way. We're holding out hope that the only way for it to go is up!
Texas Chainsaw 3D - As alluded to above, this quasi-"direct sequel" to the original Texas Chain Saw Massacre got just about everything wrong. From the age of its protagonist to trying to elicit sympathy for a family of murderous cannibals to just about every other choice the filmmakers made, it's one mistake after another that we'd rather just not ever have to think about again.
The Last Exorcism Part II - I liked The Last Exorcism quite a bit and looked forward to Part II. Unfortunately, it was an under-developed mess that only got interesting in the last five minutes or so. Maybe a sequel to a movie titled "The Last" anything wasn't such a great idea after all.
The Lords of Salem - Just so we're clear… I love experimental films. Movies don't need to always make sense for me to enjoy them. Which is why I feel a bit bad about including The Lords of Salem in this spot since it is enjoyable on a stylistic level with some incredible imagery. However, the story meanders and never gels into something cohesive or especially interesting, Sheri isn't a strong enough actor to carry the film, and it's ultimately very unfulfilling. The bottom line is that The Lords of Salem is just not good.