While much of the world buzzes on about the Oscars, gore-hounds like myself must deal with the despairing knowledge that our genre of preference will continue to go neglected. A true shame, too, for 2013 was a stalwart year for horror, both in the independent circuit and for the oft-neglected studio pictures. With The Conjuring’s absolutely astounding box office results, perhaps we are seeing the rise of another horror renaissance unlike anything since the late 70s to early 80s (a time when, though numbers were not great, a series of true classics appeared). Here is a list of just a few of last year’s top quality films.
While far from being a perfect film in any regard, Fede Alvarez’s adaptation of the cult classic is a bold take on a beloved original. Sacrificing all the camp that makes The Evil Dead so endearing, this is a ruthless and mindlessly bloody new telling that does away with cherished icons like Ash as a whole, while still implementing plenty of winks throughout (some more subtle than others). But what really makes Evil Dead a member of this list is highly impressive makeup and practical effects. There was clearly some love put into this otherwise straight-forward gorefest.
The followup to 2012’s V/H/S is as bloodthirsty and unrelenting as anyone would expect. While suffering the same pitfalls as the original (mainly, disparity of quality amongst the individual’s stories), V/H/S/2 is another solid and powerful addition for anthology horror, and possible the most successful at mainstreaming the concept since Creepshow (1982). But what really lends strength to V/H/S and V/H/S/2 is the project’s dedication to providing free-reign to independent directors and allowing them a voice to channel their talent to a different, wider audience.
You’re Next offers an extremely clever interpretation of a familiar sub-genre. Filled with sharp dialogue and a nice Agatha Christie-esque home invasion story arc, director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barret have both put their best foot forward. Appealing to many tastes, You’re Next is as classy as it is bloody, snide as it is shrewd, engrossing as it is entertaining. A well crafted and well deserved addition to an often under-appreciated sub-genre of horror.
American Mary is a love letter to David Cronenberg written in Takashi Miike’s ink with just a dash of Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. While clearly a member of both the revenge and body-horror sub-genres, such labels would be a disservice to the film’s innovative and intelligent storytelling. An extremely critical and often comedic look at violence, sex, lust, love and blood – identical-twin directors, Jen & Sylvia Sosko, are stretching their artistic talents in a strange direction. American Mary is a bright torch in the world of horror – pushing the boundaries of the genre as a whole.
We Are What We Are
A remake of Jorge Grau’s Somos lo que hay (2010), We Are What We Are is a penetrating and disturbing portrait of a cannibalistic family that bends audience expectations. An insightful look into the minds and hearts of those both lost from society and themselves, We Are What We Are is a tragic, heartfelt, engrossing tale of pity and sympathy for of a family in mourning. An incredible addition to Jim Mickle’s budding career.