July 4, 2013


Hard to believe we’re already half-way through 2013.  What’s even more surprising is the number of quality films from the first half of the year that flew under the radar.  Want some quirky horror?  Check out John Dies at the End and 100 Bloody Acres.  Looking for the newest efforts from some up-and-coming writer-directors?  How about Zal Batmanglij’s The East or Quentin Dupieux’s Wrong?  Perhaps historical dramas like No, Lore and Kon-Tiki are more your style.  Whatever your interest, 2013 surely has a film for you, you just might have missed it.  Hit the jump for 15 movies from 2013 that deserve another look.

John Dies at the End

You might know writer-director Don Coscarelli from any one of his cult films – the Phantasm series, Beast Master, or Bubba Ho-Tep – but if you’re not, you might as well get familiar with his latest effort.  Featuring Paul GiamattiClancy Brown and Doug Jones, John Dies at the End stars Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes in a story about a street drug called Soy Sauce that leads to an other-worldly invasion.  Can two college dropouts defy the odds and prevent the apocalypse? No, not they cannot.

Check out Scott’s review of the film here and watch the trailer for John Dies at the End below:

Here’s the synopsis for John Dies at the End:

It’s a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can’t.


This international production focuses on characters not often explored on the big screen.  Centering on the children of high-ranking Nazi officials who disappear as the Allies sweep across Germany after World War II, Lore tells the story of the five siblings who re-evaluate their family’s beliefs while on the run, finding protection in a young Jewish survivor of the Nazi concentration camps.

Watch the trailer for Lore below:

Here’s the synopsis for Lore:

As the Allies sweep across Germany, Lore leads her siblings on a journey that exposes them to the truth of their parents’ beliefs. An encounter with a mysterious refugee forces Lore to rely on a person she has always been taught to hate.


Gael García Bernal stars in this historical drama about the revolutionary ad campaign that inspired a population to defeat military dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile’s 1988 referendum.  With social media influencing political movements and giving a voice to the oppressed now more than ever, the story of No remains just as relevant today.

Here’s the trailer for No:

Here’s the synopsis for No:

When Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet calls for a referendum to decide his permanence in power, the opposition persuades a young advertising executive to head its campaign. With limited resources and under scrutiny, he conceives a plan to win the election.


Fans of Chan-wook Park had a ten-year wait after Oldboy to see the director’s newest spin on disturbing family values.  Stars Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode turned in nuanced performances in the moody and macabre picture, but it was all for naught as Stoker was tragically under-seen despite an international release.  You can remedy that fact by checking the film out on Blu-ray now.

Read up on Matt’s review of Stoker here and watch the trailer below:

Here’s the official synopsis for Stoker:

After India’s (Wasikowska’s) father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie (Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

From Up on Poppy Hill

For fans of animated fare and Studio Ghibli properties, this Goro Miyazaki-directed film did well overseas but went mostly unremarked here in the states.  The story follows a group of teens living in Yokohama in 1964 who attempt to save their school’s clubhouse from the wrecking ball in preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.

Check out the English trailer for From Up on Poppy Hill here:

Here’s the office synopsis for From Up on Poppy Hill:

The setting is Yokohama in 1963, and the filmmakers lovingly bring to life the bustling seaside town, with its misty harbor, sun-drenched gardens, shops and markets, and some of the most mouthwatering Japanese home-cooking set to film. The story centers on an innocent romance beginning to bud between Umi and Shun, two high school kids caught up in the changing times. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the 1964 Olympics – and the mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past. While the children work together to save a dilapidated Meiji era club house from demolition, their tentative relationship begins to blossom. But – in an unexpected twist that parallels what the country itself is facing – a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart.

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