top of page


Whilst 2023 might not be looked back on as the strongest year for the genre, there were more than enough highlights to keep us satisfied. Rather than do the usual 'top 10 best horror movies' list, we thought we'd change it up a little. So here are YGROY choice awards (and runner ups) for a variety of subjects. From best scene, lead performance to the scariest.

The best horror of the year


Director: Takashi Yamakazi

And with one Kaiju-sized stride, the (real) Big G jumps the competition and takes the title in a superb home-grown reinterpretation of the classic original. Taking place in 1945-47 post-war Japan, Godzilla still has it in for Tokyo … even though large sections of it are already in rubble. This makes for a series of genuinely stunning confrontations between the rambunctious reptile and the general populace (not the Government or Military though, as the screenplay wryly underlines their general crapness at this time). The best thing about the film (along with the brilliant FX, created for a fraction of the Hollywood price tag) is that it weaves into the narrative some humanistic themes and likeable characters, without sacrificing the spectacle. Just really bloody good and a highlight of the year. 


Director: Lee Cronin

Far, far better than anyone was expecting it to be. This sort-of reboot doesn't revive the fan-favourite characters of Ash and Mia, but it does bring us an up-for-it Alyssa Sutherland as a monstrous momma and a Ripley-like hero in Lily Sullivan. It's basically another re-telling of the original plot (bookended by a crafty sub-story), but set in an apartment block with a few other twists thrown in (Is that Ash on the vinyl recording?!). But for all that, it's a triumph that proved a hit with the critics and the fans. Tons of gore, great acting (especially from Sutherland), and a real roller-coaster of a genre treat that provided a mid-year highlight that stayed the course. Roll on new franchise entries. 



Director: Lee Cronin

In terms of jump-scares and blood-letting, there was little to touch this franchise-booster. It managed to nail all aspects of a good scary movie. From the creepiness of Sutherland's taunts ("Mommy's with the maggots now"), the claustrophobic chills of the apartment, the endangerment of young adults and children, and the "ick" factor of the climatic metamorphosis, this just gets under your skin on so many different levels. It's just what a mature horror film should be. Hell, we haven't even mentioned what happens with the the cheese-grater!

Runner-Up: TALK TO ME

Director: Danny & Michael Philippou

It’s no easy task to make a possession movie feel fresh nowadays. Talk to Me managed this with relative ease however. But let’s be clear, the big reason that this Aussie chiller was almost universally lauded was because of its power to frighten its audience. The dark antagonistic force at the heart of the film is kept satisfyingly ambiguous and this makes for some wildly unpredictable and shocking sequences. From the opening party sequence to one of the characters trying to smash his head against the corner of a table all the way to the nightmarish encounter with a footsucking demon (shudders), this one certainly leaves its mark.



Director: Rhys Frake-Waterfield

Oh dear God! It wasn't as if there was no potential for a fun or macabre romp about the Disney poster-bear going feral, but this no-budget slog didn't even try to be anything more than a generic slasher. After a promisingly creepy opening, it's all downhill as the smooth yellow-skinned freak kills the humans in Hundred Acre Woods. It's made a comparatively large profit just based on the concept, but it doesn't deserve it. Only one for those who just can't live without seeing Pooh-Bear drive a car slowly over someone's head or peep at a girl in a jacuzzi. And if you can't … it's your fault they're making a sequel!


Director: David Gordon Green

After seeing "Halloween" (2018), there were high hopes for this modern-day sequel … but they didn't stick around after the combined car-crash of "Kills" and "Ends". David Gordon Green confidently announced this as being the first part of (another) trilogy, but to nobody's great surprise this turned out to be a dull and uninspired piece of franchise bait that satisfied no-one. Wasted actors (Ellen Burstyn and Leslie Odom Jr.), a poorly-drawn narrative (the demon is NOT Pazuzu but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise), and generic scares. The TV series was a much better follow-up...



It's an absolute farce and an indictment of Hollywood's attitude towards horror that Goth was not nominated for any major awards for her performance in this prequel to Ti West's "X". Always watchable, the actress knocks it out of the ball-park here with a multi-layered portrayal of the twisted wanna-be starlet who slowly morphs into a serial killer. Born of character preparation for "X", Goth emotes like an absolute pro here, swinging between likeable and detestable facets of the titular "heroine". Whether it's goofy stage-dancing, dry-humping a scarecrow, or wielding an axe to bloody effect, she is genuinely astonishing. Watch for the pained final shot (which was totally unplanned) and the monologue that goes on for 7 minutes and 57 seconds. Amazing!


It might be strange to become enamoured with the "big bad" in an Evil Dead film, but Sutherland makes such a good job of it that you can't help yourself. From pragmatic Mom with a heart of gold, to manipulative trickster who literally "absorbs" her family, the actress is completely up for the role and throws herself physically and mentally into a dearth of disturbing scenes. She contorts into uncomfortable shapes like a mature Sadako (from "Ring"), a lot of which is purely practical. It would be great to have her return to future entries in some way, not just for the "Mommy's with the maggots now", but also for the "Don't let them take my babies". Good stuff, and the BTS scenes show that she had just as much fun as we did. 



Who would have thought that a nine-year old girl would give such a sterling performance … in a gore-drenched Evil Dead film no less! Bonding with her protective Aunt (Lily Sullivan as Beth), Nell's turn as Kassie is absolutely perfect. Showing some surprising depth with her reactions towards her mother's literal descent into hell and surviving the bloody massacre in the apartment block, she's the Newt ("Aliens") of the Evil Dead franchise and an easy character to root for. Never cloying and tough-as-nails, we'd like to see her come back to the series. Whatever happens, she's got talent and a great future in acting. Let's hope she's proud of her genre roots in later years. 


Although it’s not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, Cobweb succeeds for two reasons. Firstly, the darkly delicious Halloweeny atmosphere. The whole film feels like a modern Grimm fairytale or something. And secondly, its central performances. Lizzy Caplan and Antony Starr are enjoyably peculiar, but their creepy vibe is nicely counterbalanced by the performance of Woody Norman as their troubled son, Peter. He perfectly combines vulnerability with a dollop precociousness and is our anchor in the third act when we descend fully into fantastical chaos. Norman also showed up in the unfairly maligned Last Voyage of the Demeter this year too. He’s already on his way to establishing himself as a genre regular!


WINNER: TALK TO ME (Danny & Michael philippou)

Although still virtually babies (they’re 31), the Philippou brothers have been well known in their native Australia for some time due to their innovative YouTube channel RackaRacka. Their short films and videos tend to fall into the horror-comedy sub-genre, yet their debut feature film Talk to Me, isn’t amusing in any way. In fact, it’s mostly bloody terrifying. As we’ve mentioned before, they’re responsible for directing some of the most effective scare sequences this year but just as impressively, they were able to deftly conjure up an atmosphere of subtle dread and maintain it too. The technical quality of Talk to Me indicates that the Philippou’s are unlikely to be one-hit wonders too. They’ve already signed up for a sequel and are also attached to a Streetfighter reboot as well. Shoryuken!


Right, we’re aware that we’ve just irked a good number of you with this entry. Skinamarink is one of those films that polarises people to the point of verbal conflict but whether you love it or hate it (or are somewhere in-between, like us), there’s no denying that it had an impact. In 20 years time, it may be viewed as a cult classic or it will be cast aside as a weird little oddity with little merit. However, as we all know, horror is subjective and what might bore one person to tears might deeply unsettle another – and Skinamarink undoubtedly affected some. Kyle Edward Ball’s liminal feature is full of static shots of walls and ceilings and most of the time, were never sure what the heck is going on. But if you’re on its wavelength the whole thing can feel like one long disorientating nightmare. Where Kyle Edward Ball goes from here, we’re not sure. It’s going to be tough to make a film that resembles Skinamarink but whatever he does, we’ll be intrigued enough to tune in.


Winner: SAW X

Director: Kevin Greutert

Whilst "Pearl" and "Evil Dead Rise" are excellent sequels/prequels, it was "Saw X" that provided the something special this year for its owning franchise. Finally acknowledging that Tobin Bell is the heart and soul of the series, part ten puts him front and centre of the narrative and gives John Kramer an actual story arc rather than flashbacks or cameos. Not only that, but Shawnee Smith's Amanda (the Robin to his Batman) also comes along for the ride. It just marks an excellent return to form for the franchise, exploring Jigsaw's warped sense of morality, the relationship between the leads, and the fact that some people just basically deserve being forced into self-mutilation. A gory love-letter to the fans that was suprising hit with mainstream critics as well. No wonder we've got "Saw XI" in 2024!


Director: Lee Cronin

The Evil Dead franchise is probably one of the most consistent in terms of quality of output. The first two are stonewall classics and the third, whilst more fantasy than horror, is still a lot of fun. Then we had Fede Alvarez’s reimagining in 2013, which was hugely successful. So when Lee Cronin took on the fifth instalment of the series, the pressure was on. Fortunately, as we have mentioned, Evil Dead Rise is a total blast from start to finish and it manages to do what all good sequels do. It retains the flavour and spirit of the original films but spins things in a slightly different direction and never feels like a rehash. It’s not afraid to go all out on the gore but neither is it scared to tackle the sentimental stuff either. Another Cronin Evil Dead film would be more than welcome.



Director: Eli Roth

Who would have thought that a follow-up to a 16 year-old joke trailer would have made a splash in modern cinema. But Eli Roth's expansion of his "Grindhouse" teaser somehow managed to please critics and genre fans at just the right time. Okay, so it didn't exactly dominate the box-office, but it made more than enough for Roth to happily announce a 2025 sequel. It's a simple slasher in the style of "Scream" with a sprinkle of "Halloween". Intentionally daft and spoofy in places, it is nonetheless savagely savvy enough to provide some grimly gory entertainment and has an excellent villain in the axe-toting John Carver. He's a pilgrim-attired bad-man who does NOT messy around when it comes to murder. Now nobody knows what is happening to "Scream", maybe "Thanksgiving" could take its place?


Director: Nahnatchka Khan

Ok so this didn’t get a cinema release but in terms of horror films that were released direct to streaming services, Totally Killer is probably the cream of the crop. Produced by Blumhouse and starring genre fave Kiernan Shipka, Totally Killer managed to stand out amongst its self-aware slasher peers by not taking itself too seriously and offering a solid combo off kills and black comedy. Plus, the concept is just cool; after her mother is murdered by the same Sweet 16 Killer who went on a murder spree 35 years earlier, a teenager travels back in time to 1987, where she pairs up with her mother to catch the killer during his original spree. I mean, what’s not to love? It’s probably the best fantasy slasher movie since Freaky (2020) and although it feels like the high-concept slasher thing is running out of steam a little, this feels like a good enough way to bookend this quirky little sub-genre.

best of british


Director: Mark Jenkin

2023 wasn’t a particularly strong year for British horror in terms of quantity of movies made but there are a couple worth mentioning with Mark Jenkin’s abstract folk horror Enys Men undoubtedly the pick of the bunch. It’s fair to say that, like Skinamarink, there will be a good number of viewers who will instinctively dislike the films chilly atmosphere and lack of narrative. The film is meditative to the point of being soporific at times and it requires a certain level of concentration and commitment to get the most out of it. It is confounding yet entrancing and although never outright scary, there’s a sense of disquiet that’s difficult to shake and a handful of images that may haunt you long after the credits roll. If experimental horror isn’t your thing, you’ll resist this but for those who like something a bit off kilter, this is a bit of a treat.


Director: Nathaniel Martello-White

No, we’re not talking about the animated movie about stray dogs starring Will Ferrell and Jamie Foxx. We are of course talking about Nathaniel Martello-White’s feature debut about an upper-middle-class woman whose perfectly crafted life begins to unravel with the arrival of two shadowy figures in her town. This may have flown under the radar a little and has generally been met with a bit of a lukewarm response from critics and audiences but for our money, it’s got a lot to offer. The social satire elements feel very Jordan Peel and although not executed quite as precisely, there’s still a lot to delve into. Ashley Madekwe is great as our troubled lead with a complex past and it has an ending that left us open-mouthed too.

best tv series


Adapting video games into feature films or TV series has been a notoriously tricky proposition for film-makers over the years. And when you factor in that the whole zombie thing feels rather stale at this point, it’s a small miracle that The Last of Us was so excellent. To appease those who have a connection with the game whilst making it accessible to those that don’t is no easy task yet this series achieves it with supreme ease. How? Well, it tapped into what made the first series of The Walking Dead so great. Namely, the characters and the horror. That show lost its way on both fronts but The Last of Us is tense, violent but most importantly takes great care crafting great, weighty characters who we are fully invested in. Season 2 is on its way in 2024, yay! 


It's been going since 2014 and is very often forgotten about when it comes to genre TV, despite the impeccable credentials of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, but Season 8 of this anthology series in 2023 was of a particularly fine vintage. With episodes about contacting the dead ("Mother's Ruin"), unlikely serial killers ("Love is a Stranger"), and long-term revenge plans with ghastly fates ("The Lost Weekend") it certainly emphasised it's horror credentials. Cream of the crop though was the mischievous 48th episode originally advertised as a dark spoof of an ancient British sit-com. This was a side-stepped when BBC 2 "replaced" it with a typically lame quiz-show pilot that's not what it seems... and it's definitely dark in nature. Splendid stuff, that we should be much more grateful for, although it's now developing a cult following in the States. 



Director: Takashi Yamakazi

Yes, him again. But it's most definitely a foreign language winner, and it would have suffered artistically if a dubbed version had been arranged instead. Its authentic Japanese heritage and cultural leanings actually add a great deal of depth and pathos to the proceedings. As one critic pointed out, this is an effective study of post-war syndrome in Japan with changing attitudes to honour and imperialism .. it just also has a bloody great reptile in it that hates humans and spits atomic explosions. Along with the way in which "common people" are drawn together to fight against adversity, there's also a fascinating and life-affirming look at the phenomena of suicidal objectivism. Sounds heavy, but it's also a hugely enjoyable monster romp if that's what you want to take from it. 


Director: Demian Rugna

Although we’re not quite as devoted to this one as a lot of other genre fans, Demian Rugna’s (Terrified) fascinatingly brutal film that centres around a possession epidemic in rural Spain is a worthy runner up. Although the emotional core is a little lightweight, it packs a punch on the horror front. It’s mean-spirited, gory and relentless and contains several scenes that are genuinely tough to watch. It’s possibly not a film that you will want to revisit any time soon as you may need some time to recover! Rugna’s talent behind the camera is there for all to see and this wildly unpredictable Spanish horror will only further strengthen his reputation after already announcing himself on the scene with Terrified back in 2017. Expect an American remake to be announced in the coming months!



John Carver was one of the Pilgrims who braved the Mayflower voyage in 1620 which resulted in the creation of Plymouth Colony, of which he was the first governor of Plymouth Colony. Then in 2023, someone in Plymouth got particularly upset about some deaths that occurred in a supermarket Black Friday sale, donned a Carver mask, and dismembered, hacked, strangled, and cooked certain members of the town. There's nothing terribly original about "John Carver", as they are basically a Ghostface wannabe with a touch of the Michael Myers, But its the sheer viciousness of the acts and total lack of empathy that makes this antagonist standout. From viciously hacking at the final girl with an axe, to basting a victim and putting them in the oven, to using corn-cob holders to piece ear-drums (Just .. ouch!), there's a grim enthusiasm with each death that's intoxicating to a certain extent. We now know that John Carver will be back .. but will it be the same person behind the mask?   


Dolls are creepy in so many ways, but M3gan is different from Chucky. Exploiting the "uncanny valley" aspect of child-sized dolls, M3gan was an experimental AI "toy" who becomes the best friend of poor, orphaned Cady (Violet McGraw). With things going predictably Terminator-ish, it is nonetheless a huge amount of fun seeing M3gan transform into a "Mean Girl" who pulls the ears off bullies and knifes people to death. Not to mention dancing like nobody's watching whenever the urge takes her. Credit where it's due, it's the practical effects and the voice acting of Jenna Davis that really sells it. Never before has cutesy monotone wittering felt so threatening. Plenty of scope here for further entertaining adventures. 

best scene (spoilers!)


Hands down one of the most spectacular Kaiju scenes in a movie for years .. and that's including the recent multi-million dollar sequences in the MonsterVerse films. The big guy steps into the rebuilt territory of Ginza, on the outskirts of Tokyo. Gigantic chaos ensues. We see much of this from the perspective of the fleeing citizens as Godzilla stomps on the roads, flipping slabs of concrete (and people) into the air, not to mention knocking buildings onto their side from simply flicking his tail. A lead character is trapped in a train carriage as he takes a bite out of it, barely surviving the ordeal. It all culminates in the first unfettered view of his atomic breath and the devastating aftermath. Simply breath-taking. 


In an article devoted to the best year's horror, it seems strange that we should praise a scene that has an eight-minute monologue by a single character. But, hey .. it's an awesome piece of acting by Goth. Towards the end of the movie, Pearl makes a lengthy confession to Mitsy (Emma Jenkins-Purro as her sister-in-law) about her true feelings regarding her husband and the resentment she has for her life. At length, she describes her background and childhood to the stunned girl, before explaining the pleasure she takes in inflicting pain, and reveals that she has killed several people. This leads to an unwarranted fit of rage and another gory murder. An absolute masterclass in genre acting and mood cinema. 


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page