The 10 best horror movies of 2023

 Posters for Saw X, Evil Dead Rise and Huesera: The Bone Woman.
Posters for Saw X, Evil Dead Rise and Huesera: The Bone Woman.
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It’s often been said that the 2020s have been a new golden age for horror, and this year has continued that momentum unabated. From such effects-crammed blockbusters as Evil Dead Rise to cerebral nightmares like Skinamarink, 2023 has been scarily good to horror fans, with almost every subgenre getting something new and excellent added to it. Hammer’s decided to list the 10 best horror films of the past 12 months to celebrate that excellence. If you haven’t seen any of these masterpieces before, bundle up behind the sofa and prepare yourself…

Metal Hammer line break
Metal Hammer line break

Brooklyn 45

Equal parts period piece and supernatural horror, Brooklyn 45 bundled a cast of characters into the home of a military commander in December 1945. They quickly discover he’s gathered them for a seance to contact his deceased wife, igniting a B-movie played in real time and full of tested allegiances and spooky thrills. A rare horror with lavish colour and only one setting, it was a treat for diehard genre fans.


Evil Dead Rise

The Evil Dead franchise has built its legacy with 40 years of blood and guts, and its latest entry did not disappoint. Rise cast the Deadites to a tower block in L.A., with mum Ellie getting possessed by the demonic spirits and her sister and children needing to survive the gore-splattered anarchy that ensues. Boasting likeable characters and fresh, violent ways to make you wince, Evil Dead 5 creatively kept the franchise kicking.


Huesera: The Bone Woman

This Mexican-Peruvian co-production fused the most depraved elements of David Cronenberg body horror with Rosemary’s Baby. Natalia Solián starred as Valeria: a former free spirit settling into the heteronormative lifestyle with a loving partner and unborn baby. However, as her pregnancy continues, she’s plagued with horrific visions of cracking bodies. Although haunting by itself, Huesera: The Bone Woman was also a resonant glimpse into postpartum depression and having a child for the wrong reasons.


Infinity Pool

Possessor director Bradon Cronenberg’s razor-sharp satire didn’t dull with his sci-fi/horror follow-up. Alexander Skarsgård starred as a wealthy novelist who, as he’s facing the death penalty for a crime, chooses to have a clone of his killed instead. When the spectacle inadvertently excites him, it opens up a world of drugs and depravity in an ultra-lavish resort. A commentary on the sociopathic behaviours of the megarich, Infinity Pool was another win for its rising auteur.


Influencer

This pointed horror placed actress Cassandra Naud centrestage, casting her as a predator who hates influencers while secretly being jealous of their lifestyles. The character kidnaps social media stars during their trips to exotic locales, but quickly grows bored and eyes even more glamorous targets. Perfectly placed to swing at modern Instagram culture, Influencer took note of both the vapidness of the medium and the envy it’s designed to inspire in users.


M3gan

The killer doll has been a fixture of horror films since the early 20th century, and M3gan compellingly continued that trope in 2023. Gerard Johnstone’s horror-comedy proved itself as Child’s Play for the A.I. era, asking whether giving devices like Amazon’s Alexa full control over our home is actually a good thing. With the door wide open for a sequel, M3gan could spawn something rare: a horror franchise that’s both fun and thought-provoking.


Saw X

By Saw X, the franchise had gone the way of Friday The 13th and Nightmare On Elm Street in their latter days: a string of sequels that had long since sacrificed logical storytelling to find new, mind-boggling excuses for viscera. Expectations were low for the newest instalment, even despite Tobin Bell’s return. However, Saw’s time-hop back to its early chronology let X tell a bloody, simple revenge story without getting bogged down in needlessly convoluted lore.


Skinamarink

It’s become a cliche to call a horror film a “nightmare”, but that’s what Skinamarink set out to be. Directed by Kyle Edward Ball – who, in a previous life, ran a YouTube channel adapting its commenters’ dreams into short films – this atmospheric horror was tensely minimalist. It simply followed two toddlers in a house where things inexplicably change and disappear, with the quietness and lingering camera regressing you to childhood fears over what goes bump in the night.


Talk To Me

Although the phrase “YouTubers making films” conjures up such abominations as The Smosh Movie and Logan Paul’s Airplane Mode, Danny and Michael Philippou (together RackaRacka, boasting nearly seven million subscribers) were able to make a chilling debut with Talk To Me. This supernatural shocker centred around a hand that, for 90 seconds at a time, lets its user get possessed by spirits. What results is a hellscape of intense imagery and haunting performances.


When Evil Lurks

Despite coming out as late as October 27 and only getting a limited theatrical release, Argentine-American co-production When Evil Lurks was quickly hailed as one of the horror releases of the year. The film followed two brothers who find the host of an unborn demon, with violent pandaemonium spreading across their farmland soon after. Unflinchingly brutal and crammed with disturbing imagery, it’s a ferocious hell ride where, the less you know going into it, the better.