Dread Central's Best and Worst of 2013
Gareth "Pestilence" Jones' Picks
The Borderlands - Solid British horror makes a spectacular comeback with Elliot Goldner's tale of spooky happenings at a secluded church in the wilds of the West Country. Genuinely unsettling and populated with superbly realised characters (with performances to boot), forget whether you're generally a fan of the found footage style and check this one out as soon as you possibly can.
Banshee Chapter - More otherworldly threats rear their ugly heads in Blair Erickson's excellent mix of true-life mystery, government experimentation and Lovecraftian terror. Frequently frightening, and guaranteed to plant a seed of serious curiosity in your mind, Banshee Chapter pushes all the right buttons for a scary time at the movies.
Delivery - Taking the found footage conventions and flipping them into a supposedly unaired television episode, Brian Netto's Delivery is an impeccably-acted descent into personal hell as an expectant mother becomes convinced that her unborn child has been possessed by a demon. Featuring the single most jaw-dropping finale in the genre this year, this film could put you off having children for life.
Cheap Thrills - In your most desperate position, just how far would you allow yourself to be used, abused and humiliated for cold, hard cash? How much is enough... and how much is too much? Director E.L. Katz and writers David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga explore this predicament magnificently as two old friends are pitted at odds in increasingly abusive situations at the behest of their new, ultra-rich drinking buddy. Fear, mirth, despair, violence, degradation, brutality and tragedy are all laid bare over the course of one fateful night in a film that crackles with energy and some stunning performances from the leads.
Big Bad Wolves - Just how impressive this Israeli entry is could be extolled all day and night, but suffice to say for now that directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Paupshado manage to take the controversial themes of paedophilia, infanticide, police corruption and vigilante justice and turn it all into one wildly (and perhaps inappropriately) entertaining, wince-inducing, humourous and bombastic piece of work that constantly thrills and challenges for the entirety of the runtime. Film of the year, and absolutely deservedly so.
Honourable Mentions: Motivational Growth, Missionary, The Last Days, V/H/S/2
Thanatomorphose - A nondescript young woman gets mistreated and rots away slowly in her apartment. Interminably drawn out and woefully underdeveloped, Thanatomorphose can't even be recommended for the admittedly superb and stomach-churning practical effects.
Dementamania - Quite simply one of the most distressingly bland entries this year in terms of narrative, Dementamania really does seem like it's getting off on the right foot. Yet, it never steps forward, instead simply relaying to you a thousand other psycho-babble thrillers that pass it by. Then it promptly falls flat on its face and slowly pisses itself, weeping ever so softly throughout.
Outpost: Rise of the Spetsnaz - Swiftly followed by Outpost: Manic Pressing of the Eject Button and Outpost: Violent Disposal of a DVD, this turgid third entry has even less appeal than its woeful predecessor. Just don't bother.
I Spit On Your Grave 2 - Feeling more like the filmmakers are spitting directly in your face rather than the general direction of your grave, this insipid sequel is a soulless, cynical cash-grab utterly devoid of almost any redeeming features. An exercise in nothing but sheer disgust and simplistic reaction baiting, there's nothing on offer here that any of us need eating up time in our lives.
Biggest Disappointment: The Dead 2: India