The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries! This time around, we’re taking a look at the very best horror efforts that have graced screens so far during the year that is 2023…
So far this year, I don’t think it has been an amazing year for fright flicks. Now, to be fair, there are some very interesting scary movies still to come this year (cough Saw X cough), but at the moment, 2023 isn’t going to be an all-timer for the genre. At the same time, financially the titles are doing quite well. So, horror films are in no danger, that’s for sure. I just haven’t fallen in love with any just year this year.
Here are my picks for the five best horror films so far in 2023, accompanied by a piece from my review:
5. Final Cut
I tend to like movies and movies, especially making movies. Watching the trials and tribulation of a shoot just tickles me. I love a realistic look at filmmaking, but sometimes, a wild and wacky swing is just as fun. With Final Cut, we have a remake of One Cut of the Dead, a recent highlight of the genre, but we also have a love letter to people coming together to make a film. The joy of moviemaking here shines through, allowing it to be worth its salt.
Final Cut is a faithful remake of One Cut of the Dead, so just know that going in. If you’ve never heard of that flick, this one will definitely be something a bit different. If you have, then this will just be another execution of that same basic premise. Here, more so than last time, the first act is rough, but getting through that will allow you to enjoy what’s to come. Especially once you get to the final section, it’s firing on all cylinders.
Brandon Cronenberg is nothing if not creative. The young filmmaker tells stories and depicts acts that few are even bothering to attempt. His work keeps you a bit at arm’s length, but considering what his films are depicting, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Cronenberg’s latest movie, Infinity Pool, is in some ways both his most perverse as well as his most mainstream, if that’s even possible. Playing at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, the flick is still not for everyone, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.
Infinity Pool is pretty out there, though the perception that this is one of the more extreme films in recent memory is a bit misguided. There’s graphic content, both sexually and violently, but it’s not presented as shock value, but merely the new normal for our characters. Outside of one shot of an ejaculating penis early on, there isn’t a ton that we haven’t seen. It’s more the premise that’s on the singular side.
3. Brooklyn 45
Period horror usually just goes for an old world, and often gothic, setting. That’s all well and good, but it’s a repetitive notion that robs the genre of some real variety. It’s too rare that we see a unique period depicted, but along comes Brooklyn 45 with a hell of a setting. Here, we’re watching something horrific occur in the aftermath of the end of World War II. If that’s not a fresh part of the past for horror then I don’t know what is.
Brooklyn 45, in a strange way, almost feels like it’s from a bygone era. If this had been unearthed and discovered, as opposed to a new release, I wouldn’t have been shocked. Apart from a little extra gore, the film is downright classical. It all contributes to a movie that marches to the beat of its own independent cinema drummer, but with the confidence to take you along for the ride.
There are two types of Evil Dead projects. There are the serious ones and there are the ones with their tongues planted in their bloody cheeks. Now, the serious gore outweighs the silly gore, but there’s an interesting middle ground to be found with Evil Dead Rise. It’s not meant to be funny, but there’s a sense of fun and play, as well as elevated stakes, on display that make it one of the better installments in the franchise to date. Lean, mean, and ruthlessly efficient, this film has teeth.
Evil Dead Rise is a cut above due to the acting, the practical effects, and the impactful story that is far more than just an excuse for viscera. Now, if it had just been that, few would have been upset. However, the reason this flick is getting such a strong reception is that it aims higher. Without ever ignoring what’s been locked into the DNA of the franchise, the creativity here goes in a new and exciting direction.
1. Scream VI
Now six films in, the Scream franchise has managed a remarkable run of quality. In particular, after the last effort, simply titled Scream, was as good as it was, expectations for another sequel were higher than most horror series that go on this long. It’s a testament to how fun and meta the genre flicks are, veering towards horror comedies at times, even. Now, we have Scream VI following the prior film going in such an interesting new direction. While it can’t maintain all of the freshness from the last movie, it’s still a top-notch slasher, one that clearly is enjoying playing around with various tropes. Bring on another sequel!
Scream VI is tackling the concept of legacy sequels again, even acknowledging that it’s a sequel itself. Along with a change in setting to New York City, there’s an evolution of the franchise’s feel. That and the film might be the most violent one to date, which is really saying something. If I found it less surprising than the last one, the movie still almost entirely works, with any nitpicks being of the fairly small variety.
Stay tuned for another Sunday Scaries installment next week!