It’s that time of the year again when we share our respective lists of our individual TOP 10 HORROR MOVIES OF 2023, and a second list consisting of our individual TOP 10 FIRST TIME HORROR WATCHES IN 2023 (which excludes movies released in 2023).
What are some of your favorite scary movies of 2023?
Rabbit in Red’s Top 10 Horror Movies of 2023
1 / Scream VI
Radio Silence’s Scream VI takes the franchise in an exciting new direction and expands upon the characters and themes introduced in Scream (2022). The core four (Barrera, Ortega, Mason, Savoy Brown) prove they’re worthy additions to the Scream family, sharing endearing moments as they bond over their Ghostface trauma. The film includes terrific set pieces for top scenes like Gale’s condo chase (for which she won ‘Best Fight’ at the MTV Movie Awards) and Anika’s gut-wrenching ladder death. Sure, this sequel has its flaws, like needing higher stakes and a better reveal/third act, but it holds up well as part of the franchise.
Full review here
2 / Sick
Written by Kevin Williamson and Katelyn Crabb, Sick is a well-paced slasher set at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The film features a small cast of well-developed characters who put up a worthy fight in the face of danger. Slasher fans can expect plenty of high-energy chase scenes and an opening act that tops that of Scream VI.
Full review here
3 / Evil Dead Rise
The Evil Dead franchise returns with its first entry in 10 years and it’s well worth the wait. Director Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise, executively produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, is a non-stop, adrenaline-pumping gorefest from its opening scene to the end credits. Alyssa Sutherland is mesmerizing in her twisted role as ‘mommy’ with humorous, meme-worthy one-liners. It’s a bloody sequel that lives up to the original films.
Full review here
4 / Birth/Rebirth
Director Laura Moss approaches the body horror genre from a maternal perspective in her modern-day take on Frankenstein with Birth/Rebirth. The psychological horror film follows two mothers with different views, Rose (Marin Ireland) and Celie (Judy Reyes), as they deal with the consequences of playing God when they use medical advancements to revive a child. The slow-burn story is brilliantly told and packs a punch without relying on jump scares.
5 / Swallowed
Queer horror film Swallowed is a chilling tale of what happens when a drug run goes wrong. Written and directed by Carter Smith and starring horror icon Mark Patton, Swallowed pumps new life into the body horror genre and offers more than just blood and gore for thrills. The film has an unnerving feel throughout as it explores the emotional bond between the two male leads.
Full review here
6 / Killer Book Club
Killer Book Club (AKA El Club De Los Lectores Criminales) feels like it comes from the golden era of ‘90s slashers and while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it introduces a clever whodunnit with interesting twists and characters. Taking notes from Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, the film focuses on a group of horror-literature-loving students, with skeletons in their closets, who start getting picked off one by one by a clown-masked killer. It’s a thrilling Spanish horror starring some up-and-coming horror hunks and scream queens.
Full review here
7 / Run Rabbit Run
Run Rabbit Run is a disturbing and atmospheric psychological thriller from Australian director Daina Reed, centered around a mother who’s traumatized by memories of her past when her young daughter claims a different identity. It’s a riveting and mysterious film that will stay on your mind long after watching it. Succession’s Sarah Snook and newcomer Lily LaTorre both give nuanced performances.
8 / The Blackening
Director Tim Story’s The Blackening is a witty satire about cultural tropes and most importantly how the Black community is often portrayed in scary movies. Paying homage to popular franchises like Friday the 13th, Scream and Saw, The Blackening manages to present a fresh and hilarious take on the slasher comedy genre. The actors put on superb performances which makes it a blast to experience from start to finish.
Full review here
9 / The Exorcist: Believer
The original Exorcist has inspired countless possession films over the last fifty years and there has yet to be one that holds a candle to it. As expected, David Gordon Green’s direct sequel The Exorcist: Believer isn’t as inspiring as its predecessor but that doesn’t take away from its entertainment value, well-crafted storyline and compelling performances. It may not be on the same classic level as the first film, but it brings in new elements to evoke a sense of dread. I will say, that one big miss is the underutilization of Ellen Burstyn in her legendary role of Chris MacNeil.
Full review here
10 / Cobweb
Cobweb is an unsettling thriller that slowly builds tension throughout two acts resulting in a series of disturbing occurrences. The film flew under the radar this year but it has an emotive story and creative camera work that is sure to keep audiences on their toes. The autumn vibe and eerie atmosphere also make it the perfect watch around spooky season.
Scarlett O’Scara’s Top 10 Horror Movies of 2023
1 / Thanksgiving
Who would have thought that a movie released not only post-Halloween but also likely the final major horror release of the year would end up being my favorite horror movie of 2023? Director Eli Roth, who is no stranger to the genre, serves up a hugely satisfying whodunnit slasher with all the trimmings: an explosive pre-opening credits scene, followed by creative, gory kills, a cast (including a very likable Final Girl) who sink their teeth into their roles and the film’s super fun script, and a conclusion that leaves the audience hungry for more. I’m already looking forward to a second helping (in the form of a sequel) which is currently scheduled for a 2025 release.
2 / Scream VI
While nonetheless a hugely entertaining addition to the Scream family, I did find that the latest film in the franchise played it a little too safe in its execution, or rather lack thereof, what with the “Core Four” survivor group of Scream (2022) being more-or-less indestructible in their (and Ghostface’s) new New York City setting; however, the opening kill was epic, the cast is terrific, Kirby’s return was most welcome, and the Gale vs. Ghostface battle was exhilarating, terrifying and in itself worth the price of admission.
3 / The Blackening
This film offers a brilliant blend of exciting horror, laugh-out-loud comedy, and some killer music tracks. The actors give ALL IN performances and the audience is happily, immediately along for the ride. An oasis for fans of the horror-comedy genre looking for some fun, fun, fun.
4 / El Conde
This movie about a 250-year-old vampire who is finally ready to die…until he changes his mind, at which point things go wonderfully, quietly off the rails courtesy of his greedy family and a nun on a mission, is an unexpected delight from director Pablo Larrain, best known for Spencer (2021) and Jackie (2016). Beautifully filmed in black and white, this ambitious film is part horror, part drama, part comedy, and 100% entertaining.
5 / Totally Killer
Kiernan Shipka travels back in time 35 years to prevent the murder of a loved in the present day; in other words, she tracks down a serial killer Back to the Future style. Shipka is excellent in her role, as is the entire cast, and the script is fun and well-written (even if I did figure out the ‘whodunnit’ almost effortlessly).
6 / When Evil Lurks
This is the kind of film where the less you know before watching it, the better. Sure, I knew the Argentinian movie’s plot involved demonic possession, but I was completely unprepared for the fascinating, intense, unexpected (and, yes, occasionally gory) ride it would take me on. This is horror done right.
7 / Hell House LLC – Origins: The Carmichael Manor
A very solid entry in the found footage franchise. With its atmospheric setting, impressive camerawork, great direction, the interesting story that is slowly revealed, and a talented cast who delivers (I especially enjoyed James Liddell’s performance as Chase), my heart was racing and my palms sweaty for a good part of the film’s running time.
8 / Talk To Me
Although far from disappointing, this Aussie indie horror film for me ultimately fell a little short of the hype. While it is a thoroughly entertaining movie, with a very cool, original and nicely executed concept, a well-crafted script that is convincingly brought to life by its talented director and cast, and complimented by some impressive special make-up effects, I just didn’t find the movie all that scary.
9 / Skinamarink
Although at first it felt like I was watching a series of video art installations, this movie quickly evolves into an atmospheric, increasingly creepy, ultimately haunting horror about two young children contending with what can best be described as an inescapable, unwelcome home invasion. An unsettling, unique cinematic experience that will awaken the fears of your inner child.
10 / Evil Dead Rise
A super entertaining blood-bathed addition to the super entertaining blood-bathed franchise, this movie rises like a phoenix from the ashes (Ash’s? lol) and takes the audience on a non-stop ride through a different kind of domestic hell that is a demonic force to be reckoned with.
Rabbit in Red’s Top 10 First-Time Horror Watches in 2023
1 / I See You (2019)
I wasn’t familiar with the term “phrogging” until watching I See You on Netflix, and the whole concept is hair-raising. This was an unexpected gem that didn’t get a lot of recognition upon its original release. Director Adam Randall wonderfully builds suspense and incorporates shocking twists that will keep you guessing. It was also nice to see Helen Hunt in a different type of role.
2 / Lords of Chaos (2018)
Lords of Chaos is an enthralling (mostly) true story about a group of Norwegian black metal fans who form the band Mayhem. The film has several disturbing themes that involve suicide, murder, vandalism and betrayal. All of the actors involved do an outstanding job with Rory Culkin’s lead performance being the most impressive. It’s alarmingly violent but it has an engaging script that will hook you in.
3 / Eaten Alive (1976)
While not as groundbreaking as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive is a gruesome, low-budget ‘70s horror film that stars horror royalty like Robert Englund, Marilyn Burns and Kyle Richards. This part slasher/part creature feature includes a fair share of disturbing sequences right up to its chaotic climax.
4 / Glorious (2022)
Glorious is an imaginative, well-crafted story with twisted visuals and a powerful performance by horror hunk Ryan Kwanten. The dialogue between his lead character Wes and the Lovecraftian stall creature is creepy but there’s also a dark humour to it. Yes, it’s a horror movie centered around a public restroom’s glory hole, but it’s surprisingly captivating.
5 / The Prey (1983)
Low-budget ‘80s slasher film The Prey follows three couples on a camping trip in the woods of southern California where they’re stalked by a deformed killer. While the concept isn’t the most inventive, the film showcases a handful of savage kills and a charming cast, especially the cheeky character of Gail played by Gayle Gannes. Beautiful wildlife cinematography is exhibited throughout the bloodshed leading to a memorable final act.
6 / Ravenous (1999)
Ravenous is a thoughtfully blended horror/black comedy with standout appearances by Guy Pearce, David Arquette and Robert Carlyle. The clever script by Ted Griffin touches on themes like the destructive effects of war and taking what doesn’t belong to you to get ahead in life. It’s a genius mix of cannibalism, gore and humour.
7 / Kristy (2014)
Invasion film Kristy follows a young girl who’s terrorized by a group of crazies while alone on a rural college campus during the Thanksgiving break. Haley Bennett shines in this sadistic game of cat-and-mouse that effortlessly builds suspense from the very first scenes.
8 / Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998)
This fifth installment of Children of the Corn is admirable for its entertaining premise and solid special effects. The film builds on the mythos of the franchise and pays homage to the original while having a late ‘90s feel to it. Cameos from Fred Williamson, David Carradine and Kane Hodder are a nice addition.
9 / Sometimes They Come Back (1991)
Based on a short story of the same name by Stephen King, Sometimes They Come Back is a quality made-for-TV movie about a man who returns to his hometown for a teaching job only to be haunted by ghosts from his past. It’s not the scariest of films but it has its chilling moments and a satisfying conclusion.
10 / Blood Rage (1987)
Bursting with gory effects, ‘80s fashion and a retro synthesizing score, Blood Rage is another charismatic holiday slasher from the subgenre’s peak era. Sure, it’s a cheesy viewing, but it’s also a lot of fun, especially with one-liners like like “That’s not cranberry sauce!”.
Scarlett O’Scara’s Top 10 First-Time Horror Watches in 2023
1 / The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
This remake of the Tobe Hooper 1974 classic has some impressive cinematography, great chase/attack scenes, a terrific, convincing cast (including tasty trio Mike Vogel, Jonathan Tucker, and Eric Balfour), and an incredible performance, on both an emotional and physical level, by Jessica Biel. I think I may prefer this remake to the original.
2 / Host (2020)
At 57 minutes long, this UK supernatural/found footage mashup about a séance conducted on Zoom that goes horribly sideways packs plenty of jump scares into its relatively short running time, all leading up to the kind of suspense-building, jump-out-of-your-skin final scene that had me considering sleeping with all the lights on…assuming that I would be sleeping at all.
3 / Dog Soldiers (2002)
In terms of thrilling action, a cool script, and solid performances, this exciting movie about a group of soldiers trapped inside a remote house by a pack of aggressive werewolves is among the best of its kind. I temporarily placed myself in the ‘doghouse’ for not watching it sooner.
4 / Demons 2: The Nightmare is Back (1986)
The premise of this better-than-the-original movie is similar to the first Demons (1984), and while the kills remain consistently and colourfully gory, the sequel is more of an intense watch for the audience, and the two leads can actually act, especially dreamy David Edwin Knight.
5 / Battle Royale (2000)
An incredibly well done, action packed and intense Japanese horror/thriller/drama that gives Hunger Games feels, only Battle Royale is darker and bloodier…oh, and released a dozen years prior. This movie is essential viewing.
6 / The Mist (2007)
An incredibly effective sci-fi horror (that oddly feels more relevant now than when it was released theatrically), with some truly thrilling (and frequently thought-provoking) moments, a wonderful performance by Thomas Jane, and THAT unforgettable, haunting ending.
7 / Alligator (1980)
I absolutely love this entertaining creature feature, which boasts a creative, witty screenplay from John Sayles, also responsible for the original Piranha (1978) and The Howling (1981), some fun kills, and a crush-worthy performance from oh-so-handsome, charming Robert Forster.
8 / Intruder (1989)
Set entirely in a grocery store, the pace of the movie may be a little slow at first, but ultimately compensates for that by delivering some interesting camera angles, wonderfully creative kills, and cool special make-up effects (while bringing new meaning to the retail phrase “half-off”).
9 / I See You (2019)
This is another film that is best watched with knowing as little as possible about it beforehand. So no spoilers here, other than if you’re in the mood for a very clever horror-thriller that deliciously delivers in unexpected ways, then look no further.
10 / Basket Case 3 (1991)
This final entry in the trilogy is an especially entertaining one, with tons of special make-up effects on display, plenty of fun and funny kills, terrific performances that walk that fine line between skilled restraint and over-the-top, and a birthing scene that is unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed on screen before.
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