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Diabolique’s Top 10 Films of 2013 (Part 3)

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Continuing with our end of the year wrap-up, here is the second half of all the individual Top 10 Horror Movie lists we received as part of our poll. These personal lists of 2013 favorites were submitted by critics, filmmakers, and the staff and contributors of Diabolique magazine. From them we calculated the Top 10 list that was published on the site earlier this week and can be seen here.

MONICA CASTILLO

Film Critic

1) YOU’RE NEXT (Dir. Adam Wingard)
Strongest overall entry this year.

2) CHEAP THRILLS (Dir. E.L. Katz)
The scariest game of chicken ever, cast is superb.

3) THE WORLD’S END (Dir. Edgar Wright)
Edgar Wright + Simon Pegg + Nick Frost 4ever

4) V/H/S/2
Gareth Evans’ 20 minute sequence is the scariest thing this year, overall quality of the rest of the shorts is solid.

5) ROOM 237 (Dir. Rodney Ascher)
Lighthearted fun at interpreting a classic film with wacky conspiracy theories that are undercut with clips of Kubrick’s films.

6) THE ACT OF KILLING (Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)
Reliving the past mass murders in a macabre burlesque, with a chilling amount of emotional disassociation as the film’s true star.

7) WARM BODIES (Dir. Jonathan Levine)
Genre silly fun, cute concept.

8) ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (Dir. Randy Moore)
The third act is off the rails, but its daredevilish premise is fun to watch on a dare.

9) STOKER (Dir. Park Chan-wook)
Park Chan-wook likes to play things creepily close to the family, doesn’t he?

10) BLACKFISH (Dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
Any time your childhood is ruined, it’s a sad moment, but coupled with the very real and prolonged abuse of animals, this documentary is heartbreaking. The upside: public opinion is turning and musicians are boycotting the Sea World Parks, putting pressure on the company to reform.

JAMES GRACEY

Diabolique Contributor

1) BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (Dir. Peter Strickland)
A striking combination of dazzling Argento style and haunting Lynchian atmosphere, this is a claustrophobic nightmare of sound and vision awash with striking images and psycho-sexual panic. Far from demystifying the magic of cinema with its revelations of audio trickery, Strickland’s film enshrouds it with an otherworldly allure.

2) ROOM 237 (Dir. Rodney Ascher)
A thoroughly immersive investigation of various interpretations of Kubrick’s classic chiller The Shining, and a fascinating look at how obsessive film fans can be.

3) SIGHTSEERS (Dir. Ben Wheatley)
Wickedly funny, this blood dark road movie balances comedy and horror perfectly, as an oddball couple travelling around Britain are pushed to brutal extremes by everyday situations.

4) AMERICAN MARY (Dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska)
Dark, sexy and extreme, this intriguing character study trussed up in body-horror bondage is beautifully realised and far from the exploitative circus it could have been. Populated by sympathetic miscreants it’s as unflinchingly brutal as it is strangely touching.

5) A FIELD IN ENGLAND (Dir. Ben Wheatley)
Digging deep into weird English folklore, this genre defying title tills the furrows of folk horror and uproots some seriously hallucinatory findings.

6) THE LORDS OF SALEM (Dir. Rob Zombie)
Boasting slow-burning tension throughout, it emerges as a real throwback to old fashioned horror, filtered through Zombie’s typically nightmarish, festering aesthetics. It’s still far from subtle, but demonstrates a more psychological approach to horror and once again showcases Zombie’s penchant for spinning a compelling yarn through searing imagery and grimy, pulsating tension.

7) LORD OF TEARS (Dir. Lawrie Brewster)
Inspired by the bleak tales of H. P. Lovecraft, Arthur Machen and the creepy Slender Man mythology, this Gaelic-Gothic chiller features some authentic feeling folklore and a creepy-as-hell antagonist. A shuddery ghost story with shades of folk horror, perfect for the dark winter nights ahead.

8) BYZANTIUM (Dir. Neil Jordan)
Neil Jordan’s first venture into vampire territory since Interview with a Vampire reconstructs vampire lore in beautifully surprising ways while weaving it through lyrical fairytale imagery and a richly bittersweet tone. As poetic and haunting as any of Jordan’s other films.

9) MAMA (Dir. Andrés Muschietti)
The guiding hand of Guillermo del Toro is never far from Mama’s heart-rending emotional core. A strong cast, fairytale underpinnings and spooky atmosphere renders it a moving lament on the loss of childhood and corrupted innocence.

10) MANIAC (Dir. Franck Khalfoun)
Confrontational camerawork aligns audience with madman, as Maniac picks up where the slashers of the 80s left off, complete with creepy voyeurism and shockingly extreme violence. While the overall slickness may detract from the nastiness, this is one of the strongest, most vicious and distressing horror titles of the year.

KAT ELLINGER

Diabolique Contributor

1) SIGHTSEERS (Dir. Ben Wheatley)
So original and funny, one of the first films I watched this year and it has continued to stay my number one for the entire year. Brilliant casting, scripting, and performances, unforgettable lines ‘he said wanted me to shit in his hand and make me use it as a brown lipstick’, a wry look at British tourism with a fantastic twisted edge. This also featured the most inspired death scene I have seen this year based on a nasty knitting needle accident, and poor old Poppy the pouch.

2) BYZANTIUM (Dir. Neil Jordan)
I am a massive fan of Neil Jordan’s other gothic work especially The Company of Wolves, so I had high hopes for this one and it did not fail to deliver. Sumptuous, intelligent, absorbing, a unique twist on the vampire theme, fabulously gothic and beautifully crafted film.

3) AMERICAN MARY (Dir. Jen & Sylvia Soska)
I avoided this because of the social media gushing over this film; as I find most hyped up films always let me down as they fail to live up to my expectations, however I was blown away by the Soska Sisters second effort American Mary. Standout performances by Katharine Isabel and Tristan Risk, great story, beautifully dark, grotesque but empowering too. I particularly enjoyed both the body modification angle (a theme which I feel has not been explored enough in horror) and the strong female presence throughout this film.

4) DISCOPATHE (Dir. Renaud Gauthier)
What can I say about this other than it has a disco killer, gore, some brilliant retro themes, kickass soundtrack, and wow some of the set pieces in this film were just outstanding (especially the ‘glass floor’ killing). I loved the dark comedy edge, only let down by not being long enough!

5) THANATOMORPOSE (Dir. Éric Falardeau)
The marmite of films this year, people either seem to love or hate this one, I loved it. I enjoyed the raw intimacy in the way it was shot, the sly Kafka themes, and thought provoking storyline. Some of the scenes were out there in terms of gruesomeness and I really enjoyed the whole Grand Guignol feeling which it had, beautifully disgusting in every way.

6) DARK TOUCH (Dir. Marina de Van)
French director, Swedish Production, Irish cast, need I say more. This seemed to flit under my radar having not received much attention at all, the tragic portrayal of a girls fractured mind after enduring horrific abuse at the hands of her parents. More of an intelligent and brooding drama with horrific elements than straight up horror; the themes being both the horror of real life and some great gore effects. This one did not go down too well with the Cattle prod jump/shock lovers, as it requires patience, and while it does borrow heavily from Carrie in some ways, the strength of the performances and the absorbing story meant it held my attention all the way through.

7) DEAD SUSHI (Dir. Noboru Iguchi)
Wacky madcap fish infused slab of J-splatter, hilarious especially for the sushi roll battleship and lifesized kung-fu fighting tuna dude. The story is about as out there as you can get which kept me highly amused for the entire duration, dodgy cgi effects that for some reason just enhance the comic book style of the piece, and fun performances from the entire cast.

8) ALPHA GIRLS (Dir. Tony Trov & Johnny Zito)
Fun little popcorn horror with elements of The Craft, Heathers, and those cheesy sorority horror films from the 80’s, stylistically shot, and some fairly solid performances from the young cast involved. It had a much darker tone than I had expected from initially seeing the trailer and exceeded my expectations. Oh yes Ron Jeremy as the Priest.

9) BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (Dir. Peter Strickland)
While not strictly a horror in the traditional sense of the word, but more like a tribute to the heyday of Italian low budget horror making, Berberian Sound Studio just blew me away. More of an aural assault on the senses and an experience than just a film, highly original, innovative use of sound, a witty undertone, and mesmerizing performance from the lead this film just had me hooked all the way through. I really liked the surreal ending, although it seems others did not, but I think that it was refreshing to see a film that did not feel the need to over explain everything to the audience, instead leaving them to make up their own minds.

10) FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (Dir. Richard Raaphorst)
Although I felt the found footage style and some historical inaccuracies (re: colour camera footage, and sound) let this one down from being brilliant, Frankenstein’s Army did have some memorable moments. I enjoyed the bizarre steampunk inspired creatures, and the gore scenes toward the end were outstanding. I would love to see a prequel to this filmed in a more traditional format with more of the evil doctor.

MATT DELHAUER

Diabolique Contributor

1) THE CONJURING (Dir. James Wan)
With high tension, excellent direction, top-tier acting, and haunting visuals this one actually kept me up for a few nights after seeing it.

2) EVIL DEAD (Dir. Fede Alvarez)
A horror remake that is capable of keeping true to the spirit of the original while blazing its own trail. A movie that proved the idea of pain is far more upsetting than gore.

3) MANIAC (Dir. Franck Khalfoun)
Another remake that stands above the usual crap. With an inventive and original vision while keeping the grit and grim of it’s grindhouse roots, it may be some of the best work with the least screen time by Elijah Wood.

4) ERRORS OF THE HUMAN BODY (Dir. Eron Sheean)
A slow-burning and emotional thriller which brought me into the folds of Diabolique Magazine. Proved that a hit to the feels can be just as effective as any dismemberment on a viewing audience.

5) JOHN DIES AT THE END (Dir. Don Coscarelli)
A strange and trippy horror/comedy adventure that does justice to the amazing novel it’s based on. With a great mix of Lynchian surrealism, Lovecraftian terror, and fart jokes it runs the gamut of crowd pleasing.

6) CASSADAGA (Dir. Anthony DiBlasi)
A smooth combo of ghost horror and serial killer mystery, Cassadaga movies is able to keep pace and keep interesting even if it falls into some expected tropes.

7) YOU’RE NEXT (Dir. Adam Wingard)
A fresh and rather satirical twist on the slasher flick that has its fair share of obvious and surprising twists and turns.

8) WORLD WAR Z (Dir. Marc Forster)
A highly interesting interpretation of the global zombie apocalypse that focuses a little too much on the action and high budget and not enough on the human element, but is still entertaining enough to see through to the end.

9) THE PURGE (Dir. James DeMonaco)
A highly original concept with a sloppy execution and some heavy-handed preaching. Easily could be saved by a sequel that spends more time investigating the actual Purge.

10) DARK SKIES (Dir. Scott Stewart)
The creepy starts off strong but gets pretty boring quickly, but the twist wasn’t as expected as one would imagine.

ROBERT VAUGHN

Diabolique Contributor

1) GRAVITY (Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)
Normally, I detest 3D, but with this film, it’s a must. It adds so much more to an already tense and thrilling experience. I’ll be picking this one up on Blu-Ray!

2) BLUE RUIN (Dir. Jeremy Saulnier)
One could argue, that it’s more of a revenge thriller. Nonetheless, I eat that shit up and this one had some great twists and turns (saying any more would be a disservice to you as readers). Go see it if you get a chance!

3) THE WORLD’S END (Dir. Edgar Wright)
Who could deny the last of the last of The Cornetto Trilogy a spot on the list! Edgar Wright’s take on an alien invasion managed to deliver laughs, as well as an introspective take on growing up/maturity.

4) MANIAC (Dir. Franck Khalfoun)
I really enjoyed Maniac. I appreciate what they did with the first person viewpoint, and the soundtrack was awesome!

5) HERE COMES THE DEVIL (Dir. Adrián García Bogliano)
Is it just me, or does every film with an “H” word and “Devil” try to recreate the aesthetic of 70’s/80’s horror (reference, Ti West’s House Of The Devil)? Adrián García Bogliano’s Here Comes The Devil has a nice slow burn, with great character development, building up tension into a riveting climax.

6) STOKER (Dir. Park Chan-wook)
Chan-wook Park’s first American film deserves a spot on my list somewhere. The cinematography is beautiful and manages to evoke a surreal, eerie atmosphere. The three leads do a fine job of lending to said atmosphere, creating an overall enjoyable horror film.

7) EVIL DEAD (Dir. Fede Alvarez)
Nothing holds a candle to the original, but this one lights a candle and leaves it on the table. Does that make sense? Probably not… I enjoyed it. It definitely takes itself more seriously, toning down the humor and amping up the gore. Stick around after the credits!

8) JOHN DIES AT THE END (Dir. Don Coscarelli)
Based off the cult favorite novel of the same name, I saw this on Netflix a few months ago. It was funny.

ERIC RED

Filmmaker

1) JURASSIC PARK 3D (Dir. Steven Spielberg)

2) CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Dir. Paul Greengrass)

3) PRISONERS (Dir. Denis Villeneuve)

4) GRAVITY (Dir. Alfonso Cuarón)

5) RUSH (Dir. Ron Howard)

6) ELYSIUM (Dir. Neill Blomkamp)

7) WORLD WAR Z (Dir. Marc Forster)

8) THE LAST DAYS ON MARS (Dir. Ruairi Robinson)

PATRICK REA

Filmmaker

10) WORLD WAR Z (Dir. Marc Forster)
A surprisingly taut thriller that I fully expected to disappoint. The ending felt abrupt, but the film’s fast pace made it an enjoyable watch.

9) STOKER (Dir. Park Chan-wook)
A wonderfully crafted thriller with fantastic art direction. Matthew Goode gives a chilling performance.

8) MANIAC (Dir. Franck Khalfoun)
A rare remake that surpasses the original in every way. Telling the story through the eyes of the killer, effectively performed by Elijah Wood, made this film more than just a simple retread.

7) CURSE OF CHUCKY (Dir. Don Mancini)
Another big surprise. This DTV sequel manages to bring back the creepier side of Chucky, thus reigniting the franchise. Fiona Dourif steals the show.

6) MAMA (Dir. Andrés Muschietti)
A creepy ghost story that was only slightly undone by the unnecessarily CGI heavy finale. Jessica Chastain does a great job keeping the film afloat along with the subtle scares in the first hour.

5) INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 (Dir. James Wan)
A clever sequel, which did a great job expanding on the ideas of the original.

4) THE LORDS OF SALEM (Dir. Rob Zombie)
I know a lot of horror fans split on this one. I personally thought it was visually one of the most disturbing films in recent memory.

3) YOU’RE NEXT (Dir. Adam Wingard)
A really fun home-invasion/slasher film that managed to take an old idea and give it a fresh spin. The final act of the film is particularly twisted.

2) EVIL DEAD (Dir. Fede Alvarez)
Another successful remake that met expectations. Beautifully shot and well directed.

1) THE CONJURING (Dir. James Wan)
Easily my favorite horror film of the year. Chilling, old-fashioned and well-acted, The Conjuring manages to build serious tension with its simplicity.

BRETT MICHEL

Film Critic

1) BEYOND THE HILLS (Dir. Cristian Mungiu)

2) THE ACT OF KILLING (Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer)

3) ONLY GOD FORGIVES (Dir. Nicolas Winging Refn)

4) A TOUCH OF SIN (Dir. Jia Zhangke)

5) 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Dir. Steve McQueen)

6) THIS IS THE END (Dir. Evan Goldberg)

7) BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (Dir. Peter Strickland)

8) BLACKFISH (Dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite)

9) BYZANTIUM (Dir. Neil Jordan)

10) JOHN DIES AT THE END (Dir. Don Coscarelli)

DAVID DEL VALLE

Film Critic/Historian

1) YOU’RE NEXT (Dir. Adam Wingard)
Every one of my friends recommended this film to me and I see why now….first, to see Larry Fessenden in a supporting role was a good sign and it only gets better as the film unwinds because this film while resting well within the genre of Home Invasion films remains unique as it is both funny and frightening in equal measure. It takes the same ground as Cabin in the Woods, as you go from the familiar to the unknown within the first 40 mins of running time.

2) BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (Dir. Peter Strickland)
Toby Jones is always a joy to watch and here he is on full display for the entire running time of the film. The son of famed character actor Freddie Jones from such great films as Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed as well as Fellini’s And the Ship Sails On…Tody is very watchable in this film—an homage to the Italian giallo by way of DePalma’s Blow Out. Toby’s character in this is truly an Englishman abroad lost in a strange country of sound and fury….a top notch thriller.

3) WORLD WAR Z (Dir. Marc Forster)
The most expensive zombie Apocalypse film ever made and so much has been written about the budget that the film gets lost in translation because of that. In reality this is a major film with a grade z theme carried out with almost no gore which in itself is a major accomplishment. With very impressive special effects, the sheer scope of it made it a must see….I think time will judge this one a classic.

4) STOKER (Dir. Park Chan-wook)
This film may well be the best of the ten films discussed here….a character study from Chan Wood Park….a vampire tale without the trappings of bloody fangs and black capes….This film is very much like an adaptation of Shirley Jacksons’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle….a film Curtis Harrington was always trying to make…I think he would have admired this one very much…a beautiful hypnotic thriller.

5) A FIELD IN ENGLAND (Dir. Ben Wheatley)
Anyone hoping for an updated Witchfinder General needs to keep looking because this film is more like a David Lynch film with a dash of Jim Jarmusch, like his very odd film with Johhny Depp, Dead Man….this film is a case of style over substance.

6) MANIAC (Dir. Franck Khalfoun)
All of the fans of Elijah Woods are going to love him in this movie….he is so creepy with little actual screen time as the film is shown through his eyes….a very effective way to see a film about a serial killer like the maniac we have here….very gory and filled with shocks….a winner.

7) KISS OF THE DAMNED (Dir. Xan Cassavetes)
A modern Gothic film about the undead that is as stylish as The Hunger especially in the way it conveys the vampire mythology with the same dreamy melancholy. The fine score for this film adds greatly to its success. Kiss of the Damned restores to the vampire genre the return of the erotic vampire film, not unlike the ones that were made in the 1960’s like Vadim’s Blood and Roses. The direction of Alexandria Cassavetes is sure-handed, with intelligence and grace. She is of course her father’s daughter….John would have approved.

8) DARK TOUCH (Dir. Marina de Van)
Marina De Van’s tale of an avenging angel of lost children kept my attention when I finally watched it at the tail end of 2013. This is a difficult film to get through at times because it pulls few punches at the horror revealed throughout the film. The performances are more like character studies in the hands of a director like De Van. A psychological thriller in every way. Think Village of the Damned meets Carrie.

9) TOAD ROAD (Dir. Jason Banker)
This is a semi improvised effort that is very slow going for the first forty mins of screen time. Then at some point during the last half of Toad Road it transcends it’s slacker culture environment and becomes a horror film. Whether or not there is a hellmouth or like the film it most resembles Picnic at Hanging Rock. I saw this at a screening with the director in tow who claimed to know noting about Peter Weir’s film and yet he admitted the film took on a life of its own by the time he began to film the forest scenes where the seven gates to hell were meant to be found.

10) WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Dir. Jim Mickle)
A remake of a Spanish film which I have never seen, but I am told this is a better version in every way. I was always a fan of films like The Folks at Red Wolf Inn so I really wanted to see this one early in 2013. The performances are all quite good especially the actor playing the father. The premise of a ritualistic family shaken by the death of the matriarch allows the two daughters both young and skilled in ways we only discover at the end of this very dark tale of hidden secrets.

WILLIAM DECOFF

Actor

1) YOU’RE NEXT (Dir. Adam Wingard)
Being paranoid about home invasions, this hit home. A lot of tension and tight. Really nice work.

2) THE CONJURING (Dir. James Wan)
First, I like James Wan as a writer. This movie really got under my skin. Liked the score. It really did creep me out.

3) INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 (Dir. James Wan)
Liked it better than the first.

4) ANTIVIRAL (Dir. Brandon Cronenberg)
Anything that attacks Celebrity culture effectively is all right by this fat old Man.

5) THE CALL (Dir. Brad Anderson)
I just flat out enjoyed it!

6) CHAINED (Dir. Jennifer Lynch)
Apologies if this fell under 2012. But I’m a Vincent D’Onofrio mark. So the heck with it.

7) STOKER (Dir. Park Chan-wook)

8) SIGHTSEERS (Dir. Ben Wheatley)

9) SIMON KILLER (Dir. Antonio Campos)
Great soundtrack.

10) MAGIC MAGIC (Dir. Sebastián Silva)

Best Short Film Skip Shea’s Ava Maria. Is just flat out amazing and disturbing.

CHRIS HALLOCK

Diabolique Contributor

A cursory stab at compiling a top ten list for Diabolique Magazine this year posed a challenge: were there enough titles from 2013 worth a mention as far as personal favorites are concerned? A comprehensive revisit, however, convinced me I was a damn fool for falsely believing there weren’t at least ten films qualified to make the cut. This top ten shows that pushing the envelope with rich characterization and innovative storytelling were paramount in pushing these films over the edge as this year’s best offerings:

1) RESOLUTION (Dir. Aaron Moore & Justin Benson)
Aaron Moore’s and Justin Benson’s take on the simple cabin-in-the-woods conceit is a dizzying deconstruction of the cliches we associate with the genre, as well as a subversion of storytelling structure. The performances by Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran as two friends holed up in a creepy cabin while one helps his buddy detox from drug addiction are endearing; the film moves into unsettling territory by a thrilling and ambiguous climax.

2) THE BATTERY (Dir. Jeremy Gardner)
A low budget triumph shot in Connecticut – The Battery proves that heart and a little elbow grease go a long way in elevating the standard post-apocalyptic zombie fare to sublime levels of beauty. Jeremy Gardner, also one of the film’s stars, has concocted a touching ode to Romero where the terror of zombies is runner up to the existential void of life after the end of days. There are three stars of this film, the two excellent leads (Gardner and Adam Cronheim) and a superb soundtrack featuring moving tracks by Chris Eaton, Wise Blood, Sun Hotel, and more.

3) THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT OF ROSALIND LEIGH (Dir. Rodrigo Gudiño)
Rodrigo Gudiño follows up a host of excellent short films (The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, The Demonology of Desire) with a meticulously designed, stunningly atmospheric tale. The Last Will & Testament of Rosalind Leigh follows a man named Leon (Aaron Poole) who encounters sinister supernatural forces while settling the estate of his recently deceased mother (Vanessa Redgrave). Gudiño’s attention-to-detail is impressive and the set design functions well with the religious themes infused in the screenplay. It’s a disquieting film imbued with the good old-fashioned spookiness expected of the best in slow burning horror.

4) SIGHTSEERS (Dir. Ben Wheatley)
Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers is an incredibly dark but immensely funny romantic comedy that doesn’t skimp on brutality. The film is anchored by brilliantly conceived anti-heroes (Alice Lowe and Steve Oram) who, on a holiday tour, display a penchant for dispatching folks for the mildest of indiscretions; they, however, remain lovable until a grim end that comes out of nowhere. The lush views of the Irish landscape give the film an ethereal quality despite a lack of any supernatural force at play, and Wheatley reinforces why he’s considered a force in the genre.

5) BYZANTIUM (Dir. Neil Jordan)
Neil Jordan’s return to the horror genre is a stylish vampire tale about centuries old mother and daughter bloodsuckers (Saosin Ronan and Gemma Arterton) pursued for transgressions against the patriarchal vampire aristocracy. Bloodshed takes a back seat to intriguing character dynamics, but Jordan wisely punctuates the drama with sudden bursts of intense violence. It’s a riveting film that’s less restrained than we might expect considering the pedigree of the director who helmed it.

6) BAD MILO (Dir. Jacob Vaughan)
I’m hard pressed to think of many films over the past decade that made me laugh as hard as Jacob Vaughn’s Bad Milo; yet the film works on another emotion level that tugs at the heart strings in moments of pure tenderness. The story of a highly-stressed man (Ken Marino) coping with a murderous raging id coming from his ass amidst escalating problems in his life is simultaneously goofy and heartfelt, and the Milo practical puppet effects are fantastic.

7) JUG FACE (Dir. Chad Crawford Kinkle)
Chad Crawford Kinkle’s unique backwoods horror is an exercise in eeriness, as well as a terrifying glimpse at religious extremism. In the deep woods, a pregnant young woman named Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) must figure out how to avoid becoming the next sacrifice to a malevolent pit served by her insular community of devout worshipers. The jug faces of the title are a particularly creepy touch, as the visage of the next chosen sacrifice is revealed by the hands of a prescient pottery maker named Dawai (Sean Bridgers). Kinkle, a Tennessee native, finds a balance that avoids stereotyping his characters within a frightening cult backdrop.

8) CHEAP THRILLS (Dir. E.L. Katz)
Just how far will people go for fame or a quick buck? Bloody far if E.L. Katz’s grueling satire on contemporary culture is any indication. Katz’s observations on reality television, Jackass one-upmanship, and the L.A. party scene is Grand Guignol for those reared on a steady diet of YouTube and TMZ. The cast, rounded out with Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, David Koechner, and Sara Paxton, do an outstanding job of making the audience care about unscrupulous jerks. The film escalates from mildly uncomfortable stunts to gloriously grotesque acts by the climax.

9) STOKER (Dir. Park Chan-wook)
Park Chan-wook’s Stoker may not fit a textbook definition of horror, but it’s a lavish gothic fairy tale and a stark reimagining of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt. Mia Wasikowska is captivating as India Stoker, a young woman who’s drawn to the darkness of an uncle (Matthew Goode) she never knew she had. Nicole Kidman does an admiral turn as a conflicted mother whose own selfish desires places her in the center of a bizarre family power struggle. It’s an elegant film from one of the world’s most exciting genre filmmakers.

10) THE LORDS OF SALEM (Dir. Rob Zombie)
Is Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem good enough to warrant a place in a top horror film list? Though I’m not one hundred percent convinced, I will say that Zombie’s film – while far from perfect – is an impressively atmospheric vision from the polarizing director. The film is brimming with effectively creepy imagery, and though the story has some annoying loose ends, the haunting landscape of Salem fills in where the story reveals its cracks. The film possesses cinematic flaws, but it deserves recognition as one of the best representations of the genre.

Top Five Short Films: Skip Shea’s Ave Maria, Izzy Lee’s Legitimate, Karen Lam’s The Meeting, Franciso Sonic Kim’s Awake, Robert Morgan’s Invocation.

JAY PLAINSAFE

Diabolique Contributor

10) BAD MILO (Dir. Jacob Vaughan)

9) I DECLARE WAR (Dir. Jason Lapeyre, Robert Wilson)

8) WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Dir. Jim Mickle)

7) CHEAP THRILLS (Dir. E.L. Katz)

6) THE CONJURING (Dir. James Wan)

5) MANIAC (Dir. Franck Khalfoun)

4) CRAVE (Dir. Charles de Lauzirika)

3) V/H/S/2

2) YOU’RE NEXT (Dir. Adam Wingard)

1) THE WORLD’S END (Dir. Edgar Wright)

About Stephen Slaughter Head

Stephen Slaughter Head was co-editor of the Star Wars website TheForce.net, co-founder of the much-loved movie news website IGN FilmForce, and editor of the movie section at AOL’s Propellor.com. As a film journalist he has more than 2,000 published articles at IGN.com. His work has also appeared on AOL.com, and in Esquire magazine and the Boston Phoenix. Stephen hosts the Diabolique Webcast.

One comment

  1. Can’t believe no one has mentioned The Seasoning House. Good calls on Dark Touch though.

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