Of course, while 2013 was a great year for horror, not everything was successful, and there was plenty of swill to make up a bottom ten list. Since I’d rather not waste time on the bad, let’s just get to it:
10.) No One Lives
Playing like its own bad slasher, the dim bulb No One Lives casts Luke Evans as a nameless psycho so skilled he’s able to easily to take out the gang of hardened criminals who have managed to take hostage his own hostage. “Driver” is like Liam Neeson re-envisioned as a ninja Jigsaw, and if that sounds fun — it isn’t. He’s a stiff bore. And so are the rest of the characters in this patched-together, uninspired splatterfest; even the heiress caught between the crooks and the killer is played by Aussie actress Adelaide Clemens more as a petulant snot-nosed teen than terrified victim. Ryuhei Kitamura directs without his usual stylized, cartoon-mayhem verve.[divider]
9.) Texas Chainsaw 3D
Here’s how the filmmakers of Texas Chainsaw 3D honor the legacy of the original (to which they claim their film is the first true direct sequel): cast stars from the legendary first film in cameos so pandering Rob Zombie would scoff; have a nubile 20-something actress play a character that should actually be played by an actress in her forties; give the role of Leatherface to an actor with the threatening build of a middle-aged accounts payable manager; neuter Leatherface into a misunderstood anti-hero; have him take his whirling chainsaw out into public for the first time and do absolutely nothing with the mad potential of such a scene; then coat everything in enough low rent production value to suggest an Asylum mockbuster version of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre film.
8.) Come Out and Play
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s 1973 Spanish mini-classic Who Can Kill A Child? is an eerie bit of sun-dappled killer-kid horror. With it’s opening newsreel footage of real world atrocity adding a potent layer of social commentary (the kids are rising up against their elders for destroying the world), it’s no wonder that a remake would be catnip to a filmmaker like Makinov, a one-named Belarusian auteur who wears masks and makes viral video manifestos about transgressive art. Except that there’s nothing transgressive about Come Out and Play, a soulless shot for shot remake stripped free of any political subtext– as well as suspense, shock, engaging acting or anything approaching atmosphere.[divider]
Twixt is the kind of bad film only a director like Francis Ford Coppola can make. Val Kilmer stars as a third-rate horror author who stumbles upon a Twin Peaks-meets-X-Files murder mystery while on a book tour in a small town. There are vampires, ghostly orphan kids, a Goth-greaser satanic cult, the spectre of Edgar Allan Poe giving writing advice and Bruce Dern as the world’s most annoyingly chummy rinky-dink sheriff. It could’ve made for a fascinatingly weird mess but instead it all just adds up to an incomprehensible, self-indulgent mess.[divider]
6.) Frankenstein’s Army
Frankenstein’s Army sports some of the best and most ingenious creature designs of the past few years. Which is why it’s sad the movie is such an inert found footage dud. A group of colorless Russian soldiers head into enemy territory during WW2 to capture a Nazi scientist (yes, this a found footage film that takes place during the height of the Second World War. No, it does nothing with the wonky promise of that idea) and must run a gauntlet of monsters that look like steampunk Terminators as designed by Clive Barker. It feels like being forced to watch someone else stumble through a first-person shooter video game.[divider]
An aimless twentysomething woman gets date raped by a skeevy guy at a party and wakes up with an STD that slowly turns her into a…well, I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll just it begins with a Z. The casual, victim-blaming sexism of Eric England’s mumblegore body horror is only compounded by the bad acting, painful dialogue and thin plot.[divider]
4.)Fright Night 2: The New Blood
A terrible sequel to a terrible remake of a classic ’80s hit — only this isn’t a remake of that film’s own bad sequel, or even a real continuation of that remake but a re-remake of the original film and the remake. No wonder Fright Night 2 is such a bland and witless piece of mercenary garbage.[divider]
3.)The Last Exorcism Part 2
If only they really had let The Last Exorcism be the last. The found footage format isn’t the only thing this lame, derivative sequel has ditched from its original — it seems to have forgotten that it’s a horror film too, with director Ed Gass-Donnelly treating the film as a drama about a recovering cult member adjusting to society with a limp fright shoe-horned in every once in a while. The only problem? That drama is also limp.[divider]
2.) All The Boys Love Mandy Lane
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane was the talk of the town on the 2006 festival circuit, but it got lost in a labyrinth of legal woes — until now. Unfortunately time has not been kind: what may have seemed fresh way back then — it’s like Friday the 13th directed by Larry Clark — feels silly and dated now. It’s just a generic slasher film overlaid with layers of no-longer-hip indie film grit.[divider]
1.) I Spit on Your Grave 2
Rape-revenge films, at their most effective (I hesitate to say “best”), have an incendiary, cathartic, gender-political edge — they manage to ride the thin line between misogynistic trash AND feminist empowerment, which is why a movie like the original ‘78 I Spit on Your Grave, for all it’s slapdash exploitation-chintz filmmaking, manages to still be praised and reviled by men and women alike three decades after its premiere. I Spit on Your Grave 2, however, is nothing but misogynistic trash. An unnecessary sequel to an unnecessary remake, it repeats the formula from the first two films with another young woman (Jemma Dallender) who gets brutally, gratuitously raped before getting grisly revenge on the cretins who abuse her. Only this time it’s set in a dank-hellhole version of Romania. Watch…as she gets a cattle prod thrust between her legs! Thrill to a man having his testicles squeezed in a vice! Are we having fun yet? I Spit On Your Grave 2 isn’t just a bad movie — it’s squalid set design is more sub-Hostel industrial grime — it’s a bad movie that uses rape as fodder for more dopey, cash-grab horror franchise schlock.[divider]
Dishonorable mentions: Devil’ Pass; Carrie; Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters; RIPD
Special Fuck-You to….
A Haunted House/Ghost Team One/Scary Movie 5
We all know that the art of the parody has been lost, but did things have to get so bad? Give Scary Movie 5 this: at least it tries. The movie flails wildly in search of a laugh that never comes,the filmmakers clumsily botching one set-up after another, but at least the cast is game (exception: a slurry, wooden Lindsay Lohan) and jokes are…sort of…made. That’s more than can be said about fellow Paranormal Activity parodies A Haunted House and Ghost Team One, which are so witlessly lazy they simply think that characters swearing or having sex is automatically funny. Worse yet, both get into some truly uncomfortable territory, with A Haunted House mining “humor” from rape (of both genders, to make it equal opportunity) and Ghost Team One trying to excuse racist Asian jokes by casting Latino actors as leads.