10 Best Wilderness Horror Movies

The monsters, mountain men, and occasional flesh eating diseases lurking outside civilisation...

Eliza Dushku Wrong Turn
20th Century Fox

There are few things more primally and existentially scary to the average movie viewer than the wilderness.

Whether it's the depths of the rainforest, the vast expanse of the desert or the outback, or the unsparing terrain of mountain ranges, humans are always surrounded by wilderness lurking just outside the edges of civilisation. And horror filmmakers have known this since time immemorial, using the emptiness of nature as an excellent stand-in for whatever creepy metaphorical threat looms large over society.

And because it also scares the crap out of viewers.

Whether it's vicious mountain men, psychotic serial killers, viruses, or murderous creatures, the wilderness is home to all manner of monsters and to the constant, ever present fear that we have lost touch with nature. Wilderness horrors grab the unsuspecting viewer by reminding them that, cuddled up on a couch with a bowl of popcorn, they are far from the nature survival instincts they'd need to make it out of these scrapes.

So for anyone feeling too comfortable in their office chair, this list has complied the best horrors set in the dark, lonely expanse at the end of nowhere.

10. Cabin Fever

Eliza Dushku Wrong Turn

Starting off on an odd note, Cabin Fever is a rare horror where the wilderness itself, rather than its inhabitants, is the real source of the horror.

Released in 2002, Eli Roth’s feature debut manages the impressive feat of mixing wilderness horror with the body horror subgenre in a creepy story guaranteed to get under your skin. For the first half of this film, the set up seems to be a classic Hills Have Eyes/Deliverance style movie, where our band of unlikeable college kids will need to face off against weird, uninviting mountain folk.

But then comes the twist, as it turns out the mountain people are relatively harmless (if very unfriendly to outsiders and admittedly odd). It's actually, er, the flesh eating virus our heroes need to fight off. And by "fight off", the film means desperately do battle with and eventually gruesomely succumb to.

Sticky and sick, this one takes inspiration from the director's own childhood struggles with psoriasis, and marks a distinct contrast from his later hit Hostel, wherein the monsters are most definitely very human locals.

In this post: 
Wrong Turn
Posted On: 

Cathal Gunning hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.