Matt Dean's Best of 2013

Matt Dean has become quite the regular around these here parts. His weekly BLOODY STREAMS provide some great insight into what is available for Deviant streaming around the internet. He also maintains an impeccable taste for amazing horror films. Check out Mr. Dean's favorite horror films of 2013.

This was difficult. A lot more difficult than I imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of movies to fill this list; the problem came on which ones would get cut. I tried to spread out my picks by attempting to represent as many features of horror as possible. For instance, I tried not to include repetitious slasher, ghost or any other type of subgenres; all while still including the best of the best. A couple of my selections I honestly believe will become classics in the genre. Also, there were a few movies I simply did not get the chance to see. Whether they just weren’t available to me or I didn’t have enough time to fit them all in; from what I’ve heard We Are What We Are, The Battery, Stoker and Big Bad Wolves  would likely show up here - if I’d seen them.

So, with no further ado, here is my list for the top ten horror movies of 2013. (Side-note: my only criteria are that the film be a horror movie and that it had a wide-release date in 2013; festival appearances not included.)

10. Berberian Sound Studio – Listen, this movie isn’t for everyone. To say that it’s a slow burn isn’t giving the word “slow” enough attention. An American sound engineer, who mainly works on documentaries, is enlisted to mix a horror film for a famous Italian director. He doesn’t speak the language, though, and the rest of the crew is rather unpleasant to be around. We never see the film they’re mixing. No, that would be too easy. What we do see, though, is how they make all of those sounds we know and love; walloping a watermelon for crushing someone’s head, stabbing a head of lettuce for stabbing an arm, etc. If you’ve never seen inside a sound studio, it’s really quite a memorable moment – hearing and seeing the making-of. This movie resides in Act 3, when everything takes a very, very Lynchian-turn for the worst. There’s no clear resolution, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. What it does do is harkening back to the glory days of classic Italian horror; the likes of Suspiria. I doubt this will be on anyone else’s list for horror of the year, but it certainly resides on mine. It’s a better moviethan a few others, but it’s not a better horror movie. Number 10.

Favorite Scene: Of course I would choose when the shit takes a turn in the alternate direction. Our hero, Gilderoy (Played wonderfully by Toby Jones – this really is his movie, it’s his best so far), hears someone struggling to open his front door in the middle of the night. When it’s finally busted open, he staggers into…the sound studio…only to find a movie playing of him waking in the middle of the night and hearing someone attempting to open his front door. As his movie-self gets closer, he jumps to hold the door closed and realizes (dum dum dum!!!!) – HE was the one on the other side of the door! Great scene. Great movie. Great sound.

9. Insidious: Chapter 2  (With Discussion of my Favorite Scene) – Ya know, I almost didn’t put this one on here, but it was a fine horror movie and featured a really cool element that should have and could have been expounded upon to deliver an even better sequel. Spoilers, obviously. That element was time travel. When Josh, the dad, goes into “The Further” and knocks on the door to his astral projection house – this was actually the scene in the first movie when the downstairs door kept opening and that ear-splitting alarm kept going off. Yes, not only can you travel through dimensions, but those dimensions can be alternate time periods! That’s fucking great. I just wish they’d done more with it. I love when an initial movie seems so innocent and then the sequel comes and elevates it to an entirely different level. Other than that, the tech guys were pretty cool and Rose Byrn (28 Weeks Later, Knowing  and Insidious) is always great. So, number 9 territory.

8. Curse of Chucky – A Straight-To-DVD release on the top ten list?!? In this case, hell yes! I can hardly believe it myself. I had no expectations when I picked this up from my local RedBox, but this was the biggest surprise of the year, for this horror fan. This movie beckoned back to the glory days of the Good Guy Doll. The one-liners are hilarious. The kills are memorable. I even liked his new make-up style. It was just an all-around win and I hope the next installments will be even better.

Favorite Scene: The electrocution scene is great. As one of Chucky’s new house guest disrobes and decides to jump on the web for a bit, he sees it as the perfect opportunity to give her a little jolt. It’s cheesy, there’s gratuitous bra and panty shots and we get to see Chucky kick something – always funny.

7. Prisoners – I’m assuredly going to catch hell for including this. I think most everyone – including all of you – wouldn’t consider this a horror movie. To be fair, it’s classified as a Crime Drama Thriller, but another movie also classified as a Crime Drama Thriller has become one of the best known and features one of the most beloved villain in all horror movies – The Silence of the Lambs. Lambs  and Prisoners  are, in my mind, horror because they deal with and show some really horrifying things; things that happen every day. In the case of Prisoners, two sets of parent’s lives are shattered when their young daughters are both kidnapped. Hugh Jackman plays the obsessed father trying to track them down, Jake Gyllenhaal plays the cop assigned to the case and Paul Dano plays the possible suspect. At two and a half hours, this movie is an exercise in tension build-up. Each scene builds to an incredibly tense climax, not unlike that of the infamous house scene in Lambs. It’s one of the best movies of the year and I’m going on record in saying that it will become a sub-genre horror classic.

Favorite Scene: Midway through the film, there’s a break in the case and Gyllenhaal busts up into an abandoned house where it’s believed the abducted children are. When he gets into the living room there are about fifteen large boxes – just big enough to hold a human child. It’s disarming and you really don’t want him to open them up, but he has to and what he finds is chilling and squirm-inducing. That’s all I’ll say. It’s a great representation of the movie as a whole; build-up, tension, alarm and dread.

6. VHS 2 – I’ve already spoken endlessly about my love for this movie in Bloody Streams. It’s a fantastic way to spend an hour and a half. It’s fun, vibrant, and inventive and some of the shit that happens is down-right bat shit crazy – in a great way. A man with helmet cam turns into a zombie, alien abductions, ghostly apparitions, a woman gives birth to a demonic minotaur; these are just a few of the delights you too can endure under the spell of this fine film. Seriously though, this series is progressing in the right direction and I, for one, would rather see more VHS  incantations than the tired Saw  or Paranormal Activity  films…If anyone’s listening.

Favorite Scene: Basically, the buildup to the Minotaur birth is intense and strange and need not be missed. Don’t take my lack of words for lack of brevity – see this movie.

5. Maniac – The first of two remakes on this list. I know, I know, that’s probably breaking some kind of ‘top ten etiquette’. But, they’re both exceptions to the rule that most remakes suck. I’m a moderate fan of the original. I haven’t returned to it as much as other 80’s gems, but I enjoyed the plot enough to give this remake a gander. I think in lesser hands than Alexander Aja this movie could have been complete shit. Aja has a certain style that I absolutely love, though and it’s no different here. The camera techniques, the vivid colors; some people label it “gimmick”, but I think it’s a brilliant technical achievement. And credit needs to be given to the voice work from Elijah Wood. As the film is primarily shot from his point-of-view, he’s not on the screen that much. This means his voice needs to be a believable character and it is. He conveys the vulnerability, insanity and desire of Frank impeccably.

Favorite Scene: I think the opening six minutes, or so, is my favorite. We’re introduced to frank, to the film’s unique visual style, Frank’s stalker behavior, the amazing soundtrack and Frank’s great line, “Please don’t scream, you’re so beautiful.”

4. American Mary – I know what you’re thinking, but even though Mary is often labeled a 2012 film, this did indeed come out in 2013. Anyone who reads Film Deviant regularly knows that we love this movie. If any movie makes it out of 2013 as a cult classic – this will be that movie. However, with Katherine Isabelle - from the amazing Ginger Snaps - as the lead, it’s not hard to believe that this will be the case. Not to mention another great installment from The Soska Sisters, they’re kicking ass on a regular basis. (Check out some of their many shorts they’ve made, as well as the great Dead Hooker in a Trunk) Mary is a medical student who is…wronged…by one of her male teachers so, she decides to start working in the underground world of body modifications. This isn’t your normal body mods though and, the deeper Mary gets, the crazier her life gets. It’s just a fun movie and definitely earns its spot. 

Favorite Scene: It’s hard to pick a single scene when what you mainly love is just the feel of the movie. I’d have to go with the scene when Beatrice meets with Mary about the first surgery. Any scene with B is great, but instead of introducing these people as weirdoes who just want to be different by going to the extremes, she introduces them as actual human beings with justifiable reasoning. It changes the rest of the movie by removing that stigma most people have.

3. Evil Dead – Not until I started writing this list did I realize so many people hated this movie. What the fuck is up with that? What do you want; a shot for shot remake of the original, a la the Psycho  remake. The movie is bloody, brutal, features a chainsaw, reverent to the original while still having its own feel. I loved it. It was definitely the most fun we had in a horror movie this year. Any movie that makes you scream, cringe, jump and laugh in the span of 90 minutes deserves to be on this list. 

Favorite Scene: How do I pick just one? I’d have to go with the needle scene. Even though I have lots of tattoos, needles still frighten me to my core. So, watching Eric get stabbed in the face multiple times by one and him having to pull it out of his own eye – slowly; It makes me cringe just describing it.

2. You’re Next – This was easily my most-anticipated movie of 2013. The very first image released of the animal-masked intruders was all it took. I think as horror fans we all love masks; Jason, Michael, Leatherface, The Strangers. They’re quintessentially scary. So, knowing that this was an integral aspect of an up and coming horror flick had me on pins and needles. And it didn’t disappoint me. I loved every single second of this movie. It’s basically Home Alone  in reverse in that instead of Kevin setting all these traps to stay safe inside, the intruders are drawing them outside where they have traps set. Of course, the tables are turned and they begin falling victim to my favorite final girl of the year: Sharni Vinson. How extremely bad ass was she? I’ll stop gushing, but I can’t say enough about this movie and I can’t suggest it enough if you haven’t experienced it yet. Also, the team behind the VHS  films created this so, yeah; number two.

Favorite Scene: It’s silly, but I’ve absolutely got to pick the kitchen destruction scene. It’s bloody, funny, intense, and gruesome and the blender kill is just gloriously deviant.

1. The Conjuring – I saw The Conjuring  three times this year. That’s damn near six hours. That’s how much I loved it. The first time I see a movie I really try to just sit back and enjoy it and not spend too much time over-thinking minute details. And I did, but I also realized there’s a lot going on in this movie. This is one of those movies that deserve to be viewed in the perfect surroundings: in the pitch black dark, with the volume turned up very loud and with as few other viewers as possible. Luckily, seeing a horror movie in Georgia on a Saturday afternoon allows just that. Every element works perfectly. The set pieces are perfectly creepy. The cast is amazing (who doesn’t like Vera Farmiga, though). The sound design is gorgeous. It takes a lot of ability to know when to insert silence. So many directors want to build tension with grandiose soundtracks, but so much can be done with simple silence. Most importantly, the movie is spine-tingling; offering legitimate spooks and chills the entire runtime. So, if for some reason you haven’t seen this yet, do so immediately.

Favorite Scene: the “clapping scene” was one of my favorite scenes of the year – across any genre. Watching Lily light those matches and the hands show up right next to her head, damn. Even knowing that it was coming didn’t take away from its effectiveness.

Matt, Signing Out