Retrospective: My favorite horror films from 2023

2023 was a pretty decent year for horror, both streaming and in theatres. We got sequels for Scream, The Evil Dead and Hell House LLC, Disney released a re-imagining of The Haunted Mansion and M3GAN became a viral sensation thanks to that weird dance. Not everyone agrees on the best films of the year of course, but these were my favorites of 2023.

Talk to Me, Umbrella Entertainment and A24
Talk to Me, Umbrella Entertainment and A24 /
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Abruptio – This movie was a very pleasant surprise for me in 2023, I didn’t expect to like it nearly as much as I did (even though the cast is stellar). James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) voices a down-on-his-luck guy named Les, who ends up embroiled in a scheme wherein he has to do whatever he is tasked with…even killing people. If he fails in his assignments, a bomb chip implanted in his head will explode. It’s violent and bloody, and all of the characters are puppets. Yes, you read that right. Where can I watch it? Unfortunately, Abruptio is not currently available to stream, but please keep an eye out for it.

Evil Dead Rise – Yes, I am a fan of the original film and I even loved the remake. But I also loved this fast-paced, super-bloody addition to the franchise. It’s a clever earthquake-induced storyline that results in peril for single mom Ellie, her two kids, and Ellie’s sister Beth. The characters are very likeable, the violence and gore is top-notch, and I loved every minute of it. Where can I watch it? It can currently be streamed on max.

Hell House LLC Origins: The Carmichael Manor – Admittedly, I am a super-fan of the Hell House LLC franchise (particularly the first film in the series), and that probably enhanced my enjoyment of this one. I was skeptical as to whether or not the filmmakers could continue to hold my attention, especially since the newest addition was not set at the creepy Abaddon Hotel. But honestly, I thought the story and settings were great, and once again, Hell House LLC managed to give me the creeps. Well done! Where can I watch it? All of the Hell House LLC films can currently be streamed on Shudder.

M3GAN – I know, I know…it’s considered “horror lite.” But I thought M3GAN was a fun horror flick, and it kept me entertained throughout. Despite the horror fans out there who complain every time a PG-rated horror film hits, that creepy animatronic doll had me on the edge of my seat a few times! I especially loved the bizarre dance scene. Where can I watch it? M3GAN can be watched for free on Amazon if you are a Prime subscriber.

Sick – Scream creator Kevin Williamson wrote this fun slasher flick, which is set during the COVID 19 crisis. Besties Parker and Miri decide to quarantine together at a lake house owned by Parker’s parents, and are later joined by Parker’s casual fling DJ. That night, a masked figure begins terrorizing (and injuring/killing) them. Sick is fast-paced and has a lot of comedic moments that take us right back to the early days of COVID. Where can I watch it? Sick can be seen on Peacock.

Skinamarink
Still from Skinamarink. Photo Credit: Shudder /

Skinamarink – Let me just say up front that this is not a film that everyone will love. Even if you consider yourself a huge fan of horror, Skinamarink is not necessarily going to be your cup of tea. The storyline is a bit ambiguous, and it’s not action-packed. But if you really love a slow burn that doesn’t just hand you a neatly tied up story, doesn’t have a lot of dialogue and consists of odd camera shots, you might find yourself as caught up as I did. I highly recommend watching Skinamarink with subtitles and ear buds, because it’s a very quiet, muffled film, and you may miss some things otherwise. Where can I watch it? You can watch Skinamarink on Shudder.

Talk to Me – My favorite theatrically-released horror film of 2023, Talk to Me stayed on my mind for days after watching it. The story involves an embalmed arm and a group of young people who have made it into a viral party trick. Takers have to light a candle, put their hand into the embalmed one, then say, “Talk to me” and “I let you in.” This results in the person becoming possessed. It’s important that others who understand the rules are around, because the possession cannot last any longer than 90 seconds; otherwise, the spirit will not leave. The most horrific moment in this dark, truly scary film is when young Riley becomes possessed, it was so upsetting for me. Where can I watch it? Talk to Me can be rented on demand.

The Boogeyman – The original short story by Stephen King was formative in my teen horror-loving years – it’s the reason I still won’t sleep with my closet door open. And while the film was more “loosely inspired” than it was true to its origin story, it was still really effective. A great cast (including Marin Ireland, who is my newest Scream Queen nominee) helps engage the viewer, and Rob Savage’s direction keeps our eyes riveted on the screen. Where can I watch it? The Boogeyman is currently streaming on Hulu.

The Sacrifice Game – As a fan of Christmas horror, this one hit all the sweet spots for me. Set in 1971, The Sacrifice Game has a throwback feel to it throughout, and the setting is undeniably Christmas-y between the snowy weather and the Christmas decorations. Two students and a teacher are on campus during the Christmas break when a group of four killers knock on the door. As it turns out, the group is trying to summon a demon, but the tables get turned on them. Where can I watch it? The Sacrifice Game is a Shudder Original, and it can currently only be seen on Shudder.

Sorry About the Demon – If you like your horror to be more comedic than truly disturbing, Sorry About the Demon fits that bill perfectly. Will just doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, and he job-hops. His girlfriend breaks up with him, and he ends up renting a deceptively cheap house. As he soon finds out, the cheap rent is due to the fact that a demon has inhabited the place and is looking for someone to possess. Where can I watch it? Sorry About the Demon can only be streamed on Shudder.

Honorable Mentions for my fave horror films of 2023 include:

Haunted Mansion

Influencer

It’s a Wonderful Knife

Night of the Hunted

Scream VI

The Puppetman

Totally Killer

Unwelcome