Scott’s Favorites of 2023

2024/01/04 17:58:15 +00:00 | Scott Drebit

Hey there! If you’re reading this, you must still be around, and I’m glad to see it. These are the films that entranced me the most with their visions of movie magic; I couldn’t get to everything , but I saw what I saw, and that’s that. (Time seems to be set on permanent acceleration these days.) 

It was another great year for horror, and judging by this alphabetical, 100% accurate and objective list, one teeming with variety; from Beau is Afraid’s bone-dry hilarious foray into existential Mothering, to Stuart Gordon-inspired Skinamax bodyswapping (Suitable Flesh), and straight tributes (Thanksgiving).

Here are a few of my favorite horror things from the year two thousand and twenty-three:


Look, I get it: Ari Aster’s work is very much lump it or leave it. Hereditary and Midsommar are big, ambitious films that instantly found favor with horror fans looking for fresh voices; the director’s detractors found the films by turns confused and/or convoluted. 

I’m happy to report that not only is Beau is Afraid Aster’s craziest, most ambitious feature to date, it’s an absolutely hilarious black comedy where the saying “a boy’s best friend is his mother” takes on the most sinister of connotations. I’m sure more than a few hoped Aster would rein in his wilder tendencies; this movie runs screaming towards the insanity until the anxiety becomes nearly unbearable. Beau is Afraid frays the nerves while serving deliciously dark laughs for those receptive. It is also perfectly weird, and perfectly cast. 

Beau Wasserman (Joaquin Phoenix) is the middle-aged son of a very successful businesswoman, Mona (Broadway legend Patti Lupone), and at the start of the film is planning a trip to see her on the anniversary of his father’s death. What follows is indeed a trip – and a long one at three hours – through Beau’s mind as he tries to navigate his way back to dear old mom. Along for his trip home are sidequests with a middle-aged couple (Nathan Lane and Amy Ryan), their troubled teenage daughter and the veteran friend of their son, who died in war; also, time trips through Beau’s life, to try and navigate the terror within him. 

Does any of it mean anything? Who cares? Beau is Afraid just wants you to know that moms all over the world are the same: their happiness depends on you. Don't mess it up. 


Ghosts bind us to sin like stench on a fly; our guilt stays with us forever – however long that may be. Welcome to Brooklyn 45, writer/director Ted Geoghegan (We Are Still Here, Mohawk)’s brilliant and melancholic period chamber room drama about the wages of war and the horror that lies within all man. 

December 27th, 1945; World War II has just ended, and a group of American veterans gather at one’s brownstone for post-Christmas libations. Tensions are still high amongst the friends; the host Hock (Larry Fessenden) is dealing with the anniversary of his wife’s suicide, while everyone is trying to adjust to being back home. Hock’s suggestion? They hold a seance to contact his deceased wife. Reluctantly they proceed… and it works. They do manage to contact Susan, and as usual, things go sideways post seance – I’ll say no more plot-wise; part of the thrill of Brooklyn 45 is watching the tragedy unfold in real time and seeing it escalate to operatic heights. (Not to mention some kickass practical effects.) 

The atrocities at hand in Brooklyn 45 – the evil that men and women do – are given clarity by Geoghegan’s vision (with some script help from his late father, an Air Force veteran). The film teems with an accuracy and temperament for the times, aided immeasurably by a wonderful and creative set design that brings the brownstone to life. The small but extremely effective cast get their characters across in short order, but the film doesn’t feel rushed and moves along confidently. 

With Brooklyn 45, Ted Geoghegan has crafted a film that brilliantly confronts the ugliness of man (and the stupidity of war) head on – in the hopes that maybe someday we’ll stop the killing. 


Here’s a franchise that’s been kicking around, ripping off heads, infecting the living, and causing general unholy havoc for over 40 years now. Evil Dead Rise (with guidance from the series’ lifeblood, producers Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert), doesn’t change the formula, but it does switch up scenery to an apartment building, which gives the premise a big boost, setting it in an exciting direction for future installments. Remember: It’s all about location, location, location. 

Beth (Lily Sullivan) goes to visit her sister Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland) and kids in their run down L.A. apartment; a bit estranged, Beth has come to tell Ellie she is pregnant, but is interrupted by Ellie’s son playing some records from the 1920s, leading to a Deadite return. 

As with most Evil Dead films, the plot takes a backseat to visceral thrills and blood painted everything; while it’s hard to top Fede Alvarez’ Evil Dead from 2013 for the meanness of it all, Rise does offer up a bit of squirmy salvation. (Cheese graters of the world, unite!) The family unit is very well played, with a special shoutout to Sutherland, for her absolutely terrifying portrayal of Deadite Mom. It’s also a fun performance, and writer/director Lee Cronin (2019’s The Hole in the Ground) never forgets the over the top playfulness of the best moments of the series. Mommy may be with the maggots, but she’s earned a place rent free in my head.


Imagine if you will, a world in which an episode of Red Shoes Diaries melds with H.P. Lovecraft via the Re-Animator creatives in an orgiastic sweat-filled stew effortlessly stirred by director Joe Lynch (Mayhem). That world is called Suitable Flesh, and it’s my favorite body-swapper since the original Freaky Friday in ‘76. (Maybe this should air on Disney+ instead of Shudder?) 

Essentially, here’s the dish on the Flesh: Dr. Elizabeth Derby (Heather Graham)’s life is upended as she receives a visit from a young man named Asa (Judah Lewis) looking for some mental assistance. As he starts to tell her about being controlled, he receives a call from his father Ephraim (Bruce Davison), at which point Asa’s entire personality becomes lecherous and lascivious. Elizabeth instantly feels a connection with – and attraction to – the young man; fearing there’s more there, she seeks out Asa’s father… and that’s when all the real fun begins. 

Playing like an early ‘90s MCA/Universal DTV (Shannon Tweed not included) that has its tongue firmly embedded in cheek, Suitable Flesh was written by the late, great Stuart Gordon’s co-conspirator, Dennis Paoli. And Joe Lynch is the perfect candidate to pull it off – it’s funny, knowing, fastpaced, and relishes the absurdity of it all. 

The entire cast is terrific; Lewis and Graham have great chemistry, and Barbara Crampton continues to be the queen of the horror scene with her sympathetic portrayal of Elizabeth’s friend and colleague, Dr. Daniella Upton. 

Suitable Flesh truly is the spiritual sequel to the Gordon/Paoli/Crampton/Combs films so closely associated with H.P. Lovecraft; that one comes away smiling after watching only solidifies it.


Here’s something refreshing: a straight-ahead slasher with no bigger purpose than being one. Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving was born of impossible expectations – his faux trailer from Grindhouse (2007) was a retro blast that mocked (or cheered, depending on your point of view) the sleazy, by-the-numbers feel of a million tax write-offs. Surprise! This is better than that. 

Our opening set piece is a gloriously violent Black Friday stampede at a Walmart-like superstore, trying to be kept under control by Sheriff Eric Newlon (Patrick Dempsey). (That fails, of course; we’d have a much shorter movie otherwise.) One year later, a group of teens who were inadvertently involved in the deaths at the Rightmart start receiving messages about the tragic night. From a killer in a John Carver mask. And he’s ready to serve. 

Thanksgiving doesn’t draw attention to its pedestrian plot as it would in something self-aware; all the pieces are lined up as they should be, right down to a killer reveal that may not be surprising. That’s what is refreshing to me – it plows through with the same beats we’ve been given for decades.

But it gives’r where it counts – strong performances, good characters, and gnarly practical gore. (Could have used even more stuffing.) Thanksgiving makes a play on the perils of consumerism, but ultimately just wants to serve a cooked and stuffed human being. Dig in. 

Well, that’s it for me; I’m sorry the list isn’t longer but I’m preparing for a very busy 2024 – I hope yours is filled with horror on the screen, and peace for the rest.

  • Scott Drebit
    About the Author - Scott Drebit

    Scott Drebit lives and works in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is happily married (back off ladies) with 2 grown kids. He has had a life-long, torrid, love affair with Horror films. He grew up watching Horror on VHS, and still tries to rewind his Blu-rays. Some of his favourite horror films include Phantasm, Alien, Burnt Offerings, Phantasm, Zombie, Halloween, and Black Christmas. Oh, and Phantasm.