From found-footage to remakes, from body horror to black comedy, from the haunted house of The Conjuring to, well, A Field In England, here are the 13 best horror films to hit UK screens in 2013. Only films that were given a full UK release this year count, so festival favourites like We Are What We Are, All Cheerleaders Die, Jug Face and Willow Creek will have to wait for 2014…
13. CURSE OF CHUCKY
It would have been sensible to go into the sixth Chucky film with low expectations but, to be honest, we were pretty excited. Thankfully, it was even better than we could have hoped. Having got rid of the campy excesses of Seed, Curse was a lean, mean and (still) very funny return to everyone’s favourite killer doll franchise. It had no right to be this good, but we’re thrilled it was.
You can buy Curse of Chucky on Blu-ray for £10 at Amazon.co.uk.
While the first found-footage anthology divided audiences, this crowd-pleasing follow-up seemed to go down much smoother. The emphasis seemed to be on entertainment rather than scares, allowing for Gareth Evans and Timo Tjajhanto’s delirous ‘Safe Haven’ segment to walk away with the film as a documentary crew’s visit to a doomsday cult goes horrifically wrong.
You can buy V/H/S/2 on DVD for £9 at Amazon.co.uk.
Neil Jordan returned to the vampire genre with this gorgeous adaptation of Moira Buffini’s play. Gemma Arterton and Saorise Ronan are the bloodsucking mum and daughter who hide out from the elders who are out to kill them in an off-season seaside town. Ronan excels as the teenager frozen in time, the script both updates and honours vampire mythology, and Jordan has made a film that looks this good in years.
You can buy Byzantium on Blu-ray for £10 at Amazon.co.uk.
James Wan’s farewell summer of horror may have ended with the disappointing Insidious: Chapter 2 but his ‘70s-set haunted house movie showed just how much he’ll be missed. Both lovingly nostalgic and genuinely scary, The Conjuring was the work of a master craftsman helped by a strong cast (particularly Vera Farmiga and Lili Taylor.) The ending may have got away from him but this was the most effective studio horror of the year.
You can buy The Conjuring on Blu-ray for £12.99 at Amazon.co.uk.
Comfortably claiming the title of scariest British horror film of the year is Jeremy Lovering’s improvised chiller In Fear. Alice Englert and Iain De Caestecker starred as a new couple who get lost in the Irish country backroads. The actors didn’t know what was coming next, and their highly impressive performances combine with Lovering’s claustrophobic direction to create a truly gripping horror.
You can pre-order In Fear on Blu-ray for £13.67 at Amazon.co.uk.
Following the success of their debut slasher Rabies, Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado brought us a pitch-black tale of revenge gone wrong as the father of a murdered girl and a hot-tempered detective kidnap and torture the prime suspect in the case. Both a dark political satire and a gripping thriller, Big Bad Wolves will have you laughing and wincing in equal measure.
Elijah Wood surprised audiences with his excellent portrayal of serial killer Frank in this stylised POV remake of William Lustig’s grotty ‘80s slasher Maniac. Both hypnotic and unsettling, Franck Khalfoun’s intepretation of the film places the viewer inside the mind of a psychopath. With a superb soundtrack and Wood’s superb turn, this is a remake that takes a new approach and delivers something different but just as upsetting.
You can buy Maniac on Blu-ray for £9.50 at Amazon.co.uk.
Ben Wheatley continues his tremendous run with this fantastically odd black-and-white cerebral horror. Reece Shearsmith stars as a hapless apprentice pulled into a rival magician’s plans to find the treasure under the titular field. Under the influence of mushrooms, the group finds something much more terrifying. It’s beautifully shot, hypnotically scored and the performances are excellent. A must-see.
You can buy A Field In England on Blu-ray for £9.75 at Amazon.co.uk.
[REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró ditched frenetic found-footage for this deeply creepy story of a doorman who uses his job to gain access to the apartment of a beautiful young woman. Luis Tosar’s performance is superbly restrained, allowing the depths of César’s psychosis to slowly reveal themselves. Slyly funny but genuinely shocking, Sleep Tight will get under your skin and stay there.
You can buy Sleep Tight on Blu-ray for £9.50 at Amazon.co.uk.
Brandon Cronenberg joins the family business with this superb body horror/pop culture satire. Caleb Landry Jones is magnetic as a young man who makes his living selling celebrity illnesses on the black market. When he contracts a superstar’s fatal illness, he finds his body is on the top of a lot of people’s shopping lists. Antiviral is sharp, stylish, gruesome, and it’s very, very funny. It’s a clever and confident debut and we can’t wait to see what he does next.
You can buy Antiviral on DVD for £5.30 at Amazon.co.uk.
Jen and Sylvia Soska followed their grindhouse debut Dead Hooker In A Trunk with the intelligent, funny and ultimately moving American Mary. Led by a fantastic turn from Ginger Snaps’ Katharine Isabelle, American Mary is both a sensitive character study and an unsettling body horror that breaks the revenge film stereotype by exploring its heroine rather than lingering on its more lurid subject matter. American Mary is a breath of fresh air.
You can buy American Mary on Blu-ray for £6 at Amazon.co.uk.
A controversial choice, perhaps, given that Stoker wasn’t marketed as a horror, but Park Chan-Wook’s English language debut is steeped in Gothic tradition. From Matthew Goode’s charming, insidious Uncle Charlie to Nicole Kidman’s fragile, hysterical mother, Wentworth Miller’s sly script creates the perfect storm for Mia Wasikowska’s scorpion-disguised-as-an-ingenue to realise her potential. It’s beautifully shot, perfectly performed and simply one of the very best films of the year.
You can buy Stoker on Blu-ray for £12.39 at Amazon.co.uk.
Adam Wingard’s triumphant crowd-pleaser is the most fun we had watching a horror movie all year. Playing like a mumblecore combination of Home Alone and Halloween, Sharni Vinson gives a breakout turn as a young woman who steps up when her boyfriend’s wealthy family is attacked by a relentless group of home invaders. With great supporting turns from AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg, You’re Next is gory, shocking, suspenseful and hilarious.
You can buy You’re Next on Blu-ray for £15 at Amazon.co.uk.