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Mike Cleopatra’s Top 10 Horror of 2023

Another year has come and gone, and with it comes the tradition of reminiscing on the best and the worst films of the year. Here are my personal picks:

10. Evil Dead Rise – The Necronomicon causes more undead mayhem, but this time inside a high-rise apartment building. While definitely not the most exciting entry in this series, this film was solid. The keyhole single-shot is one of my favorite single-takes of the year, the big title reveal after the explosive cold open was magical, and I was entertained all throughout.

9. Moon Garden – A comatose five-year-old girl journeys through a dark industrial dreamscape, following her mother’s voice on a transistor radio to find her way back to consciousness. This movie is very dark and brooding, but in a Pan’s Labyrinth meets Mad God sort of way. It’s beautiful and haunting, but also depressing.

8. Talk to Me – Young adults use an embalmed hand to channel the dead as a party experience. I’ll go ahead and admit that this movie being only 8 on my list is entirely my own fault. I did not get the chance to see it until it was out on Bluray, so that means it was exponentially hyped by the time I got around to it. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s actually very well made for a team’s debut film, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

7. Megalomaniac – Two siblings of the legendary serial murderer ‘The Butcher’, grapple with the grotesque legacy bequeathed to them. Loosely inspired by an actual murderer in Belgium who was never caught after dismembering victims and leaving bags of their remains to be discovered on roadsides, this tale is extremely dark and harrowing. It’s an arthouse styled Belgium film in the style of a French Extremity (and even featured in the French language) where the violence hurts to watch, you feel dirty to watch it, but it’s also a complete headtrip that makes you question the reality it contains. I’d love to discuss this one with someone someday.

6. Where the Devil Roams – A traveling family of circus performers embark on a path of violence and love. The Adams Family deliver yet another fantastic film that encompasses a multitude of homemade special effects, interesting ideas, beautiful cinematography, and a magnetic chemistry that is unmatched by most acting teams.

5. Beau is Afraid – Following the hearing of the death of his mother, the practically reclusive and overly-paranoid Beau embarks on a journey to his mother’s funeral. This movie is literally the story of a 40-year-old virgin whose imagination amplifies the horrors of reality. The first hour is literally amazing, but the film’s remaining 2 hours slowly wind down and throw off any momentum it had until the shocking final 30 minutes. Definitely my least favorite Ari Aster film so far, but still a fascinating and anxiety-inducing experience.

4. Infinity Pool – While staying at an isolated island resort, James and his wife Em encounter another couple who introduce them to the wild-side of the island that they haven’t traversed before. The resort is basically set as a paradise amongst a violent and poor country that discourages (and bans) all visitors from exploring, but while beyond the confines, James learns of a weird legal loophole where his sins can be atoned for a nominal fee.

3. Cobweb – A boy is constantly awoken at night by the sound of something in his walls. This movie is dark, gloomy, and reaks of that Halloween vibe. It’s so gorgeous and genuinely scary that it’s truly a shame not many people have talked about it this year. If you want something that’s easy to watch, not too violent, and has a twisty story, I highly recommend this one.

2. Thanksgiving – One year after a Black Friday incident, a masked murderer emerges in the town of Plymouth, MA. Eli Roth has always been a favorite of mine, and this is easily his most fun and accessible film in a long time. The violence is gross but silly, the tension is legit, the comedy works, and the opening incident – and specifically a scene involving a waffle iron – is literally my favorite thing I’ve seen all year. I’m so happy that this film was as successful as it was.

1. When Evil Lurks – Possession overtakes a quiet town in a way that defies all expectations and understanding. This movie is effective, disturbing, dark, and endlessly fascinating. There are a few scenes that I’ve never seen put on film before quite like this, and they are creatively brutal. It’s a movie that affects the viewer and hurts to sit with afterwards.

Honorable Mentions: No One Will Save You, Huesera: The Bone Woman, Meg 2: The Trench, Earwig, Megan

Dishonorable Mentions: The Outwaters, The Nun II, Slotherhouse

Non-Horror Favorites: Oppenheimer, Barbie, Good Boy, To Leslie

How does your list compare to mine? Anything I absolutely missed or overlooked? Anything I should hate more than I have? Let us know in the comments!

Very exciting stuff coming out this year, we can’t wait to chat about them with all of you.

‘Til Next Time,
Mike Cleopatra

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