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The Horror(s): The Best and Worst Film of Summer 2013

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Friday, Sep 6, 2013

BEST

 
#5 - Star Trek: Into Darkness

People are going to hate me/us for this, but screw ‘em. As much as we loved the original reboot from J.J. Abrams (lens flares and all), we enjoyed this just as much. There is just something so satisfying about messing with mythology, and by introducing a non-classic version of Khan as part of the plotting (oops - spoiler alert?), this movie drove many a Trek geek to OD on homemade Tranya. Of course, we understand the criticism, but not the result. This is a terrific action film, a perfect Summer blockbuster served up with more than enough respect for the source. Or at least, we think so.


 
#4 - V/H/S/2

Anthologies are only as good as their individual pieces. One bad component, and you’re left wondering whether the rest of the installments will be as equally underwhelming. In this case, the opening sequence (about a man with a high tech eye transplant) is merely good. The other three are instant horror classics, riffing on such tired old subjects as zombies, satanic cults, and alien abduction in deliriously clever ways. In fact, the second and third sequences are so good they could be stand alone films all by themselves. In a season which sees big budget behemoths dominate the landscape, this indie gem outshined them all.


 
#3 - The World’s End

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, along with director pal Edgar Wright, have crafted yet another amazing genre mash-up (this time taking on midlife crisis nostalgia and science fiction?!?!) that’s, perhaps, the best work they’ve ever done together. The story of five former friends heading out for a famed failed pub crawl speaks not only to their cultural connections, but to the whims of wasted youth as well. Along the way, a dozen new repeatable phrases (“Let’s Boo-Boo,” “Starbucking”) are established while the uniformly witty script keeps us linked to these aging men’s ideals. By the time the robots show up, we’re ready for anything, and this film delivers on that promise.


 
#2 - The Conjuring

James Wan’s work here is beyond reproach. He takes real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren and places them in a situation so scary that the MPAA thought it deserved an “R” rating, though nary a drop of blood is shed. This is old school horror, elevated by amazing performances and compelling characters. It is also a testament to the man behind the lens. With Saw, he inadvertently introduced a new terror trope - torture porn - to the macabre vernacular. Here, he shows that you don’t need splatter and ample arterial spray to spook an audience. You just need someone who understands the format, and Wan definitely does.


 
#1 - The Act of Killing

If it weren’t true, you’d believe it was the work of some insane creative genius. A group of young gangsters, up to no good along the streets of ‘60s Indonesia, are recruited by the government to go on a Communism purging rampage. The result? One of the most horrific examples of mindless genocide ever approved by those in power. And how did the nation respond? Why, they put these killers up on a pedestal and treat them like gods . In fact, the entire country is a corrupt den of indifference to what happened several decades before. A fascinating documentary and a disturbing piece of history.


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