10 Folk Horror Movies To Lead You Astray
Secret societies. Pagan evils. Ancient monsters. Be careful: these films might just bewitch you.
It’s the spooky genre of the moment. But what is folk horror?
It all revolves around a fear of “ancient ways” – religions, myths and rituals that should be long dead, which are revived to bring about a terrifying horror. These old ways are intrinsically tied to the setting, and the people who live there. The folk, if you will.
There are many ways to represent folk horror.
It could be a mythical creature that stalks the woods, something the locals warn the protagonist about, but they promptly ignore. Or a secluded community that live life in an ancient and disturbing way. Maybe it’s set in modern society, with a group of people returning to the old ways of their ancestors to wreak havoc on the new world.
However you slice it, folk horror is in vogue right now. But it isn’t a new thing – the genre created itself in the ‘70s with a group of films set in rural England that explored the horrors of paganism.
Recently, it’s had a resurgence that’s kicked away any dated tropes and explored an area of horror that covers viewers in a cold sweat.
Read on to discover the classic old movies, the creepy new films, and the very ancient evils that lurk in the picturesque countryside.
10. The Witch
Robert Eggers is the man of the moment when it comes to folk horror. His most recent work was 2019’s The Lighthouse, which explored myths and lore surrounding the sea.
However, the film we’re going to focus on here is more in keeping with the classic folk horror style. In fact, 2015’s The Witch, marked the reemergence of the genre in the mainstream, starting a folk horror boom that is still going strong today.
On the surface, it may seem like a slow burning psychological horror. But the film is truly brought to life by the extensive research Eggers did surrounding the time period and place. They brought in traditional carpenters and thatchers to build the set, hiring actors with culturally accurate British accents, and liaising with British and American museums.
Even the stylised way the film is spelled - “The VVitch” - came from a Jacobean era pamphlet on witchcraft that Eggers found.
But why does this matter?
The key to folk horror is the “folk.” The mythos of the story comes from the people of that area. To understand their fears, the viewer has to fully understand their culture.
The attention to detail in the film that brings these New England pilgrims to life is what makes the horror so disturbing. To them, the Devil is a very real threat, an entity that roams the Earth waiting to corrupt the innocent. We feel their fears.
And unfortunately for the pilgrims, those fears are proven to be entirely rational.