IT WAS THE creepiest of times, it was the here’s-more-comfortable-I.P.-reboots of times….
Horror continues to be one of the few Friday-night multiplex staples that’s the movie equivalent of recession-proof, one of those go-to genres that guarantees good opening weekends and the sort of thrills-chills-spills combinations that sells popcorn. It also remains a low-budget way for high-minded filmmakers to be experimental and subversive, as well as for name-brand patron saints like Jason Blum and Jordan Peele and distributors like A24 to keep introducing fresh blood — metaphorically and literally — into the mix. This was also the year that Shudder, the streaming service that caters to die-hard horror nerds, seemed to step up their game in terms of picking up and putting out smart, sly, and downright scary stuff from all over the globe.
And — no surprise here — 2023 was also a year in which legacy franchises continued to get rebooted, requeled, resurrected and often run into the ground (more SAWs and Screams), while a couple of new up-and-comers laid down what they hoped will be the foundations for long, beautiful friendships. Some felt like they were straining for insta-cult status (M3GAN, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey). Others showed enough potential that they suggested a sort of watch-this-space approach once they got a few more movies under their belts. We’re looking forward to seeing where the creators of It Lives Inside and Talk to Me might take those potential series, or at the very least what these filmmakers do next.
There were surprises, discoveries, left-field takes on established subgenres, and premises that knocked us sideways. It was almost enough of a bounty to make you forget the attempt at turning the Five Nights at Freddy’s video games into the Next Big Horror Thing and the fact that the execrable Exorcist: Believer is the first entry in a new trilogy. Almost.
Our picks for the 10 best horror movies we saw this year run the gamut from kaiju-legend reimaginings to folk-horror nightmares, auteur-driven apocalypses to lo-fi creepypasta dreadfests. We may be in between renaissances and new wave-crestings at the moment, but there’s still enough solid work out there to offer traditional jolts and suggest there’s more to this ever-evolving genre than just jump scares. (Also, some honorable-mention shout-outs to Angry Black Girl and Her Monsters, The Blackening, Evil Dead Rise, Final Cut, The Five Devils, Influencer, It Lives Inside, The Outwaters, Run Rabbit Run, and Talk to Me.)
From Rolling Stone US