10 years of horror: Looking back at 2013-2014

Since I’ve been reviewing movies for a decade, I decided this year to take a look back at some of my favorite horror movies since 2008. So far, I’ve already taken a look at movies through 2012, so here’s the next few through 2014.

Read my 2008-2009 here.

Read my 2010-2012 here.

The Conjuring (2013)

ConjuringPoster

By now, almost everyone is familiar with “The Conjuring,” as the movie has spawned several sequels. But, let’s go back to its humble beginnings.

To start out with, this film, and the series as a whole, are based on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren. Well, to be honest, I think that the Warrens were actually just pretty good at conning people, considering many of their claims have been severely called into question.

Looking at the movie character versions Ed and Lorraine Waren portrayed in this series, though, they are perfectly fine. They’re also very well portrayed by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga.

Maybe what I liked most about the movie, though, were the other characters, the ones who were actually being haunted. The parents, portrayed by Ron Livingston and Lili Taylor, actually acknowledge right away that there’s something wrong and try to do something about it. That’s actually not done all the time in horror movies. Having competent, relatable characters was a major plus here.

The film also knows how to build a creepy atmosphere and the makers get creative with the haunted house format.

The picture has creepy imagery, A nice atmosphere and well written characters with strong performances. It’s what you want from a horror.

Warm Bodies (2013)

WarmBodies

This is another film from the past several years that isn’t a horror movie per se, but still adopts horror elements. The film takes a lot of cues from the story of “Romeo and Juliet” and adapts it to a post-apocalyptic, zombie outbreak setting.

In all honesty, I walked into the movie fairly skeptical. Trying to make a romance movie out of a zombie movie just seemed so far fetched. I’m glad I kept an open mind, though, because this one actually turned out to be pretty solid.

The film benefits from a fun performance by Nicholas Hoult and good work from Teresa Palmer in her role.

What I was surprised by and enjoyed the most, though, was the writing here. A lot of it was quite clever, and took fun shots at the zombie film genre.

It works as a romance, is quite funny, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and even manages to feature a few creepy moments. Not necessarily scary, but a good time regardless.

Evil Dead/Carrie (2013)

So I lumped these two together because they’re both remakes of beloved classic pictures. As a result, they had an uphill battle to win over audiences considering what they’re based off. In giving them each a chance, though, audiences will notice that both of these had some good qualities.

EvilDead

So, with the “Evil Dead” series, Director Sam Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell cast large shadows. There’s no doubt that this 2013 remake isn’t as memorable and probably won’t be remembered as well as the originals were. However, credit is due to these filmmakers.

Director Fede Alvarez, who later went on to direct “Don’t Breathe,” and his crew don’t pull punches here, and create an intense, frightening cinematic experience. There’s disturbing and creepy imagery and the tension is really there.

The performances aren’t all that great, and the writing isn’t top tier, but for a bloody B-movie, the product is a good popcorn watch. Plus, the third act features an incredible finale.

Carrie2013

“Carrie” was another film that had a lot to live up to. The original 1976 adaptation featured stand out performances from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, and even with the remake having a talented cast, the movie would always be compared to the 70s version.

Still, like “Evil Dead,” this feature deserves credit. First and foremost, both Chloe Grace Moretz and Academy Award winner Julianne Moore deserve praise for their portrayals of Carrie and Margaret White. Both are superbly talented and deliver exactly the type of performances needed.

Also, while it’s true that much of the film retreads some old ground that its 70s counterpart already covered, it was still good to see a modern adaptation for today’s audiences that was competently made.

Also, going into spoilers, there’s something that this “Carrie” did as opposed to the 70s picture that I found quite interesting. In both adaptations, Carrie’s prom date Tommy is hit with the bucket that had all the blood in it.

In the 70s picture, Tommy appears to be knocked out by the strike. Carrie, meanwhile, very quickly almost goes into a trance like state and starts creating the prom disaster.

The scene is actually quite different in the 2013 version. Here, Tommy is actually killed (seemingly) by the hit. Carrie’s reaction is completely different than her 70s counterpart, she’s humiliated by the prank pulled, but in the moment she’s actually more concerned over Tommy and mourns him for a moment.

It’s after that sequence she begins her onslaught, and her anger is even shown even more. She forcibly takes her anger out on the school not only because she was pranked like before, but because also because a person who was seemingly nice to her was just murdered. It’s something that the movie did different than the original and deserves praise for putting an interesting spin on the well known prom scene.

The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

PurgeAna

In 2013 a film came out called “The Purge,” which featured an America where on one night of the year, all crime is legal. As horror movies go, it’s not necessarily the worst concept, but the movie didn’t exactly do much with it. When all was said and done, it was a basic home invasion type film. It also didn’t help that the movie featured two of the most annoying and stupid child characters.

A year later, its sequel “Purge: Anarchy” was set for release and since I didn’t like the original, I wasn’t all that excited for this one. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised.

This film, fortunately, doesn’t take itself as seriously and embraces its B-movie status by going all in on the survival and action elements. It does this by following a certified bad-ass character, simply named Sergeant, played by a stoic Frank Grillo. He, and a group of people trying to survive, are the main focus and watching Sergeant battle all night is genuinely entertaining.

The flick does feature a few jump scares, but for the most part, it moves away from the failings of its 2013 counterpart and goes more in the direction of an entertaining thriller. It’s still the highlight of the series and is a fun watch overall.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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