We are nearing the end of 2013, and even though we still have a month to go, I thought it would be good to look into what most people consider "the best horror films of 2013." There is a high degree of consensus regarding this list, which could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it.
1. Evil Dead (remake)
I would agree that this is a good film. It's even more violent than the original, and that scene with the nail gun is classic. As remakes go, I like it about as much as the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, but not as much as The Hills Have Eyes remake.
I don't think, however, that it's fair to compare this movie with the original. The first Evil Dead was made with a ridiculously low budget, and the charm of that movie is not that it's scary or violent, but rather that it exhibits a quirkiness and slapstick humor that has become Sam Raimi's trademark. The remake is simply a horse of a different color, and is more in line with what shocks people in 2013.
2. The Conjuring
This is a more Catholic version of director James Wan's Insidious. The plot will be familiar to anyone who's seen The Amityville Horror, the Poltergeist movies, or any of the thousand other films that resemble those two franchises. The acting in this movie is excellent (hey, isn't that the guy from Office Space?), but the derivative nature of the script left me feeling disappointed.
This movie is gore-free, and is instead applauded for its atmosphere. I will agree that there are a couple of scary scenes in it, but that's not enough to save this movie. If you want Catholic horror, I would suggest renting, buying, or downloading a copy of The Exorcist.
3. American Mary
I can't figure out why this film is called AMERICAN Mary. The film was shot in Canada, and it has nothing to do with America.
A medical student enters the world of body modification, offering medical services to those who wish to modify their own anatomy. It's not as gory as you'd think, and the actress that plays Mary is super hot. It's not a bad movie, but I wish they'd done more with the material. The ending is anticlimactic in the extreme.
This movie was NOT filmed or released in 2013, but the sequel was. I wasn't able to get my hands on the sequel, but I was able to track down this one.
This movie is pretty much all the ghosts from The Conjuring without the Catholic intervention. Instead of Catholicism we have astral projection, and demons originating in some realm called "The Further." It's slightly better than The Conjuring, but still not that great. I kept waiting for the demon to bust out with a nail gun, or for the dad to pull out a chainsaw, but sadly this never happened.
5. Kill List
This is possibly the best movie discussed here (the Maniac remake was a close second), and its budget was probably less than half of the others. Two special-ops types are hired to kill several strangers, and their mission gets stranger and stranger as they move up the list. The twist at the end was easy to see coming, but it's a wonderfully bloody and eerie film.
6. Whatever the Latest Entry in the Child's Play Series Is
I refuse to see this movie. The others were stupid enough for me. I fail to see how the latest entry could be any better.
7. Maniac (remake)
This movie stars Elijah Wood (Frodo!), and is definitely one of the artier horror movies. Most people probably aren't putting it in their "best of" lists because it was too far outside their expectations.
I thought this was a fantastic movie, and it is the only movie reviewed here that I had to see twice.
Not sure if this one really qualifies as a remake. It is VERY different from the original film.
8. The Battery
This film was first released in 2012, but it didn't make the festival circuit until this year, and the video release was also in 2013. It's an extremely low budget zombie film, but it still makes World War Z seem boring and juvenile by comparison. I'm sure the writer/director of this film will be heard from again.
And a Parting Note...
I guess they've finally finished filming the third Human Centipede movie, this one featuring a 500-person centipede, completed in a prison. If you have a strong stomach, that would be the one to look for. As for myself, I think I'd rather watch something less gimmicky.