EJ Moreno pits 2003’s horror line-up against 2013’s… which year scared us more?
Horror is the genre that reflects our current time the most. We often see cultural fears and concerns thrown back at us in the scariest of ways.
Looking back at the genre 10 or 20 years ago can give us a clear picture of where we were as a society. So, that’s exactly what we’ll do with this list. We will compare a film from 2003 and one from 2013 to see which film stood out the most.
Neither the early 00s nor the early 2010s are known for being dominant eras for horror. But in researching this, in each of these years, we will see career-defining moments, perfect encapsulations of the time, and some great scares.
2003 vs. 2013: Which year of horror gave us the most chills and thrills? Let’s find out…
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)/Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013)
Who knew the Leatherface-led franchise would last this long? But somehow, we are still getting these movies to this day. Looking back at these two entries paints two very different pictures for the genre; 2003 ushered in the remake era, while 2013 is painfully hindered by its time.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from 2003 is the first release from Platinum Dunes, which would go on to make a string of high-profile horror remakes. While the others worked to varying degrees, 2003’s Texas Chainsaw worked on nearly every level. It’s bloody and shocking, which fit in at the time. Thankfully the grittiness that made the 1974 film so memorable was still there; they just added a stronger story and a brutal new Leatherface.
2013’s Texas Chainsaw 3D is the complete opposite of 2003’s in almost every way. Any grittiness is hindered by god-awful 3D, the story makes zero sense, and they oddly decided to try to make an anti-hero version of Leatherface. Some hilariously lousy performances push the film to another awful level, and you get a complete picture of how far the franchise had fallen again in just ten years.
WINNER: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)/Evil Dead (2013)
One thing never goes out of style, and that’s brutality in our horror films. While the mainstream will come and go on the gore trends, hardcore horror fans love some sick movies. A decade apart, we got two sick films that elevated the filmmaker behind them to new heights in the genre.
House of 1000 Corpses introduced horror fans to Rob Zombie, the filmmaker. After years of dominating spooky rock music, Zombie showcased his love of the genre with one of the decade’s most bizarre films. In an homage to low-budget schlock, House of 1000 Corpses goes for cheap scares and WTF moments, but there are real glimmers of how great Rob Zombie could be behind the camera.
Evil Dead, the 2013 remake/sequel to the original film, is another homage to an era of low-budget horror but adds some slick production to its terror. In what is often cited as the best modern horror remake, Fede Álvarez’s Evil Dead became the best coming-out party for the filmmaker. Álvarez went on to direct and produce quite a few memorable genre entries, but nothing has come close to the sheer perfection here.
WINNER: Evil Dead (2013)
Underworld (2003)/World War Z (2013)
Horror has many sub-genres, from found footage to torture porn. But the large portion of action horror films can not be ignored, especially given its box office impact. Both films came at different points in cinema history but backed the staying power of horror movies filled with action set pieces.
You may not think highly of the Underworld franchise now, but when this movie came out, it made quite the splash with edgy kids who loved rock music-filled movie soundtracks. Besides all the alt edginess, the film caught on due to its mix of killer vampire moments and Blade-inspired action scenes. This film grossed $100 million in 2003 and spawned a franchise that still clamors for more entries.
World War Z made an insane amount of money; there’s no doubt about that, but did it really hit as hard as other zombie movies? Sure, it made half a billion dollars off a nearly $200 million budget. It’s just hard to care about the film outside of its impressive numbers. Out-dated CGI and a shoddy adaptation of the original material make this one of the most expensive “meh” movies ever.
WINNER: Underworld (2003)
Wrong Turn (2003)/The Purge (2013)
Launching a franchise is no easy task; look at the last two movies and the next two. But these two we are focusing on now prove that a good original film can spawn as many not-so-good sequels as you can cook up. While The Purge and Wrong Turn couldn’t be further apart, there’s a familiar formula here.
As the rise of more graphic and violent movies happened in the 2000s, a new look at the psycho-cannibal story was undoubtedly on the way. In what feels like the nu-metal version of The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn often works, but sadly doesn’t do anything different enough to make it stand out among its peers. What is impressive is there are six other movies in this franchise, with a modern “elevated horror” attempt not too long ago.
The Purge spawned five sequels, including an upcoming project and a television series. What makes this different than Wrong Turn’s franchise status is you could tell 2013’s The Purge was onto something. With a bold style and a fresh new idea, it was easy to see that you could do a lot in this universe. While the later installments feel like Underworld movies with many shoot-outs, it’s still a pretty strong first movie.
WINNER: The Purge (2013)
Final Destination 2 (2003)/Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)
Being the second child is never easy; all you have to do is look at any sequel that tried to live up to its original. Both 2003 and 2013 saw popular movies get much-anticipated follow-up movies, and it’s fair to say both did well. These two horror sequels prove that not all these battles are easy.
As silly as it may sound, Final Destination 2 has engrained itself into the minds of so many movie lovers. Before Saw was finding wild ways to kill cast off, the Final Destination movies were doing it with ease. No one can drive on a highway the same after this film’s memorable intro, and there are so many deliciously twisted kills along the way. Final Destination 2 took its high concept from the first film and drove it to new heights.
Insidious: Chapter 2 had the not-so-easy task of following up on one of the most memorable paranormal horrors in years. It sadly doesn’t stick the landing as impressively as the 2010 original. Still, you can’t deny that these movies worked for its fanbase and helped solidify James Wan and Leigh Whannell as this generation’s masters of horror. A decade later, we are preparing to explore the stories introduced in Insidious: Chapter 2.
WINNER: Final Destination 2 (2003)
Gothika (2003)/The Conjuring (2013)
Admittedly, paranormal horror isn’t a favorite for this writer. The scares don’t often connect with me like they do others, but these two movies found ways to make the haunted feel more chilling than ever. One features two of the biggest movie stars, while the other is another franchise-launching powerhouse.
Gothika dropped from Dark Castle Entertainment and had a lot of promise. Enough can’t be said about this cast, with Oscar-winner Halle Berry and two-time Oscar-nominee Robert Downey Jr. toplining the call sheet. These two do their best to elevate the preposterous plot, but even their power can’t make this haunt hit as it should. You are compelled by what’s happening, only to be disappointed by the film’s ending.
Looking at The Conjuring from 2013, it’s wild to think this would spawn what is now a two-billion-dollar franchise. The movie is undoubtedly great, featuring two stellar performances from Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga; it’s strange to think we’d get seven more films in this universe and launch a global force. The Conjuring proved ghostly scares could be marketable as much as they are bone-chilling.
WINNER: The Conjuring (2013)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)/Mama (2013)
All of the movie battles we featured today attempted to have a theme. Franchises face-off, while remakes can tackle other remakes. These two movies have next-to-nothing in common but will be used as a tiebreaker. With two very different films, which captures the genre better?
Event horror films are rare. Not often does the genre feel the way Marvel movies can, with everyone excited and the fandom ignited. That was the case for Freddy vs. Jason, a long-awaited slasher featuring two of the industry’s biggest icons. While the film can be weighed down by its tedious story at times, it is some of the most fun you could have with horror when it delivers on its eye-catching title.
Mama has quite a few things working in its favor. The 2013 horror film was a box office success and launched the career of the Muschietti family. Director Andy Muschietti isn’t as strong as he’d be in his 2017 near-perfect It, but you can see the glimmers of what made him such a horror titan here. Mama begins to falter when you see it’s more of the same, especially in a year where there are already two other sad spooky movies.
WINNER: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
In my eyes, 2003 is the more decisive year for horror overall. 2003 and 2013 were more stacked than you’d remember, mostly succeeding in offering different sub-genres for each type of fan. It boils down to 2013 getting stuck in trends like lazy 3D movies or paranormal haunts, while 2003 had more range and variety.
Both years could make up a fantastic scary movie night, and you can’t go wrong trying to revisit the early millennium or life post-Mayan Calendar.
Which year do you prefer for horror, 2003 or 2013? Let us know on our social channels @FlickeringMyth, and if there any horror fans or budding movie producers out there among you, please check out the crowdfunding campaign for The Baby in the Basket, Flickering Myth’s own 1940s-set Gothic horror feature due to go into production this year. We’re fast closing in on our funding target and have a bunch of perks available, including freebies for every backer at any pledge level!