Tuesday, 31 December 2013

You MUST Know What I Think! Best of 2013

It’s that time of year again where everyone throws out their best and worst lists, and hey, it’s not like I totally fell off the wagon and haven’t published anything in months (uh-oh…). So, here is my best and worst of 2013. I’ll keep it brief, and unlike other years, I will forcibly limit myself to just a top 12 best and 5 worse, because isn’t 17 a lovely number to have everything add up to? Ok, I admit it; I tried just a top 10, but had too much trouble.

Some honourable mentions must go out first. Warm Bodies surpassed any expectations of being Twilight-with-zombies and actually turned out to be funny and heartfelt, marking it as a surprise favourite with many. The big budget horrors of Texas Chainsaw 3D and Mama, though bloated and watered down by committee, are still enjoyable romps that define popcorn entertainment. The many great superhero films including Thor: The Dark World, The Wolverine, Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 were welcomed to the screens. Some people will argue how good they actually are and compare them to The Dark Knight, which set unrealistically high standards. I find myself watching all these films thanking my lucky stars and knowing that when I was a kid, I could barely dream of a day that films like these would actually exist. V/H/S 2 completely smoked the first instalment of the found footage anthology, with the Safe Haven segment being particularly strong. White House Down was Die Hard in the same year the latest official Die Hard sucked balls hard. Gravity, of course, is so many people’s number one choice of the year. My first impression was good but not great. I may change my tune on rewatching, but for now, it will have to handle being an honourable mention.

12. Evil Dead
The remake of Sam Raimi’s cult classic is flawed and stupid, but these films never were about being masterpieces. What it lost in humour and innovation, it gains back in gut-wrenching gore and an easy going plot.

11. This is the End
Seth Rogan and his usual suspects got to make an end-of-the-world movie where they reference their favourite horror movies, and kill Michael Cera. Plenty of laughs and though it falls in to predictability towards the end, has plenty of aces up its hole in the scares department, unusual, considering it is more easy to class as a stoner comedy.

10. Oblivion
Joseph ‘Tron Legacy’ Kosinski brings a Mad Max meets Star Trek world to life with Tom Cruise. None of this sounds too amazing, but once you get over the films slow pace, there is a real touching story of humanity and its struggle with its own worth in the face of an alien invasion that comes not with a bang, but a whimper. Morgan Freeman and an insanely great score by M83 add to the mix.

9. Willow Creek
A found footage film about Bigfoot by Bobcat Goldthwait (AKA the guy with the oddly pitched voice in Police Academy). Lucky enough to see this with a very receptive crowd at a late night screening at Frightfest, the film is built on lovable characters that are easily relatable, and a situation instantly recognisable. The scares are few and far between, but once they hit, you won’t care. This one joins Troll Hunter as an instant cult classic.

8. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
It’s like Battle Royale meets 1984 with a bit of The Matrix thrown in. Hard to hate, very easy to love.

7. World War Z
Stupid but epic. The sheer scale of the zombie attacks on display in this Brad Pitt vehicle are mind-blowing and had me, a hardened and bitter zombie fan, on the edge of my seat. The last act, in Wales, nonetheless, is a bad reflection on the palpitation-inducing action previous.

6. Maniac
All shot from Elijah Wood’s POV, this remake is Hannibal in the Drive universe. Apart from the shoehorned-in moments of the star looking at mirrors to remind us of who he is, the film does an excellent job at putting us in a madman’s head. You will come away from this one feeling dirty. Recommended, of course.

5. You’re Next
The trailer to this film does it no justice, and you should go watch it immediately (or when it is released on DVD in the new year) with no further prepping. A home invasion movie, You’re Next caught me off guard with its cleverness and level of engagement. A group film if there ever was one, though be prepared to completely disagree with that statement for the first 20 minutes or so.

4. The Conjuring
I was initially disappointed with James Wan’s latest horror, finding it didn’t live up to the high promise of the trailers and the buzz everyone was giving it, but it has stuck in my head as one I want to revisit, and I know I can show it to friend who want a scare but something accessible. In hindsight, though not as great as advertised by many, it is more superior and enjoyable than Insidious, which was a decent horror flick too (and it ‘borrows’just as much from Poltergeist).

3. Stoker
A gorgeous film with gorgeous set pieces set against a gorgeous backdrop with gorgeous music and gorgeously acted. This is a gorgeous film, is what I’m trying to say. Don’t half way watch, since you would be doing it a disservice. Try set aside time to just envelop this moving art.

2. Lords of Salem
I have ranted and raved about this film plenty of times before. It is still great, even after far too many viewings.

1. Curse of Chucky
And here we are at number one. And it is a sequel. A direct-to-DVD one at that. Can you believe it? Well, you should, since Curse of Chucky breathed new life in to a series that I personally don’t think had run out of steam, though had gone away from straight horror roots. This instalment brings things back to a gothic setting by having the killer doll being sent to an isolated house where a paraplegic (Fiona Dourif) and her family mourn and try settle the affairs of their recently deceased mother (see: killer doll). Maintaining plenty of humour that the series has built itself on, and with enough tension to throw at a cat (people do that, right?), the film had plenty of opportunity to be a major disappointment or to tread the same old ground, but instead, was a shockingly successful performance. Easy to watch (and jump to) for everyone, with some extra titbits thrown in for the fans.

Whew, and that was me trying to keep it short! Do you agree with my views? Did I miss anything, or is there something that I should have deleted? Let me know. Don’t forget to check out my worst of!

Happy New Year!