For the past two years I’ve done the conventional top 10 horror films of the year gimmick, but this year I’m passing up the ranking system because I simply can’t decide on any order for the films I’ve enjoyed most this year. Much of this is because 2013 has been a somewhat strange year for horror with some of the bigger names absent from festival schedules giving way to some new and some re-emerging talents which can only be good for the genre. In addition, all of these films are so different that I’m finding it hard to rank them as each pretty much do what they want to do comfortably and confidently. I did initially start to rank them but it turned me into such a conflicted mess I just had to abandon the idea. I’m also aware that some of the films in this list were probably out last year but that is often the case so we won’t worry about that (am seeing a good few of my last year’s choices on lists this year – mainly the mighty American Mary and Antiviral. As it is a pretty big list I’m going to split this into two parts…
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
Yep…I was not expecting this to be anywhere near a year-end list of mine when I first saw the DVD cover and took a chance on it being so bad it might be entertaining. However, it is a super fun reimagining of the Hansel and Gretel tale that really hit all the right notes with me. Sometimes that’s all you need, but at the same time, it lacks the substance to be any further up the list.
This one may be slightly controversial, given the fairly negative response from many genre fans, but I enjoyed it. Plenty of gore and enough small references to the original to keep me happy and some great imagery toward the end too. My only complaint really is that maybe it would have benefitted from not being associated with The Evil Dead as it was bound to be compared unfavourably to it and perhaps could have been given more creative freedom if not under the Evil Dead banner.
A deserving entry on any list considering the fact that it is the first horror film made in Laos and also the first film made by a woman there too. However, that is not the only reason it appears here as it is a strong, haunting ghost story in its own right with its own spiritual background woven into the film by director Mattie Do. Ooh, and an awesome whippet who greatly appeals to a crazy dog lady like myself.
Lords of Salem
After many years of only mentioning Rob Zombie’s film efforts in a disgruntled mumble (Halloween grrrr) he is finally back in my good books with a more original project that includes some genuinely creepy moments that is satisfying enough before something of a drop-off toward the end. Still, a nice turn away from his previous work and one of the most interesting on-screen depictions of witches in recent memory.
Funny, touching and with frequent arse jokes Milo! is a really fun film, ideally enjoyed with friends and beer. The titular Milo is very cute, but also very deadly and is off-set by some wonderful performances. The easiest way to describe it would be something like a horror version of Ted, which looks at growing up with the help (or should that be hindrance?) of an unusual ‘friend’.
Superb Spanish film that I’ve already expressed my appreciation of in a full review. A stunning study of a country coming to terms with past brutalities wrapped up in a personal story about children who have no concept of physical pain. It kept me gripped from its sinister opening to its emotional conclusion – a tall order during the festival overload. My full review is up at AllHorror.net
The Maniac remake has to be on this list for having the dubious achievement of making me feel genuinely, physically sick during one particular kill. It is relentless both in its violence and the style behind it, culminating in the closest thing to a fevered nightmare I’ve seen on screen in some time. Doesn’t Elijah Wood do creepy so well?!
Part Two is coming soon…