Best Genre Films of 2013: Part 1 (#20 - #11)

By: Heather Seebach

A lot of people have shit on this year - as they always do - and claimed it was a weak year for film. I absolutely disagree, particularly when it comes to the horror, sci-fi, and dark comedies. Not surprisingly, many of my most anticipated films of 2013 ended up on my year-end list! I picked them well! There we so many solid films that I had a very difficult time narrowing down the following list so please read and feel free to argue :)

20. A Field in England (d: Ben Wheatley)

Haven't totally wrapped my head around this trippy black-and-white period piece yet but, like all Wheatley's films, it has bewitched me. This one may very well move up the list with repeat viewings.

19. The Lords of Salem (d: Rob Zombie)

Speaking of bewitching, this is actually the first Rob Zombie movie I really like! This one is incredibly divisive, probably because of its eccentric visuals, but I thought it was creepy, full of great supporting performances, and it's one pretty neat Kubrick throwback (even if that's all it is).

18. Insidious: Chapter 2 (d: James Wan)

This one that took a lot of shit from horror fans but I think it is a wonderfully bonkers, seamless continuation of the first one. It has some flaws but I love how Wan and screenwriter Leigh Whannell are still not afraid to go weird places. Plus, watching Patrick Wilson chew scenery Jack Torrence-style was a blast. Full review.

17. Spring Breakers (d: Harmony Korine)

Here is another very divisive film from this year. I did not expect to like this one but Korine trolled us all with that cast and that plot. Yes, the film is prone to self-indulgence and excess, but it's a fascinating flick that will leave you chanting, "Spraaaaang Braaaaake Forevvvaahhh..."

16. The Conjuring (d: James Wan)

Yes, it's another homage film (Lords of Salem is guilty, too) but it's an effective and good-looking one. I loved the 70s vibe and the performances, namely Vera Farmiga. I don't give a damn if the real Warren's are frauds or saints - this is a horror movie and it achieves its goal beautifully. And it has one of the best exorcism scenes in recent memory. Full review.

15.  Pacific Rim (d: Guillermo del Toro)

I know why some are unimpressed with this "big, dumb robot movie" but I felt like a kid again watching this film. I immediately wanted to collect all the Jaegers and Kaijus and re-enact battles on my bedroom floor. This is a special kind of action film, and the computer-generated FX are just stunning. I only saw this in the cinema, so I cannot vouch for how well it translates on a smaller screen, but for me this was a seriously fun movie-going experience. People have become so accustomed to big-budget, CGI-laden movies being pure shit (thanks, Michael Bay) that they forget how to recognize the real deal. This is the monster movie we'd all been waiting for. Full review.

 14. Maniac (d: Franck Khalfoun)

The first of multiple reboots on this list, Maniac helped prove that, in the right hands, a remake can be wonderful. This Alexandre Aja-produced re-telling of William Lustig's Maniac was bolstered by Elijah Wood's creepy performance, clever utilization of first-person perspective, and some seriously brutal kills.

13. Byzantium (d: Neil Jordan)

It is rare we get a decent vampire film these days, so this epic gothic fantasy film was a pleasant surprise, especially since it does not shy away from the requisite gore. As the lead vampires, Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton are fantastic. The movie is a tad long and it sags a bit in the middle. Having said that, I think this could be a fantastic television series. You're fired, True Blood!

12. Antiviral (d: Brandon Cronenberg)

 I'm sure Brandon is sick of being compared to his legendary filmmaker father but it's a nice compliment all the same. The apple truly didn't fall far from the tree as Brandon Cronenberg's debut feature is a fantastic entry into sci-fi/body horror. In addition to being nice to look at, the film packs some very timely social commentary. Full review.

11. All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (d: Jonathan Levine)

Yes, I know this film is from 2006, but seeing as it FINALLY got a U.S. release date this year, I felt I should include it here. Mandy Lane may seem like a run-of-the-mill slasher at first but it is full of surprises and a 70s grindhouse horror vibe. Chances are, most people reading this have already seen the film; if so, rejoice in the fact that 2013 finally brought it to a wide audience!

Click here for Part 2 (#10 - #1)

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