What is Folk Horror? Wikipedia offers a helpful explanation:
Folk horror is a subgenre of horror film and horror fiction that uses elements of folklore to invoke fear and foreboding. Typical elements include a rural setting, isolation, and themes of superstition, folk religion, paganism, sacrifice and the dark aspects of nature. Although related to supernatural horror film, folk horror usually focuses on the beliefs and actions of people rather than the supernatural, and often deals with naïve outsiders coming up against these.
My favorites among the folk horror film options I’ve recommended over the years. Warning: most of these are rather harrowing:
The Witch (2018, R): A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession. Metascore: 84.
Hereditary (2018, R): A grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences. Metascore: 87.
Midsommar (2019, R): A couple travels to Northern Europe to visit a rural hometown’s fabled Swedish mid-summer festival. What begins as an idyllic retreat quickly devolves into an increasingly violent and bizarre competition at the hands of a pagan cult. Metascore: 72.
The Deeper You Dig (2019, Unrated): In the aftermath of a roadside accident, the line between the living and the dead collapses for a mother, a daughter and a stranger. Metascore: 75
She Will (2021, Unrated): An aging film star retreats to the Scottish countryside with her nurse to recover from surgery. While there, mysterious forces of revenge emerge from the land where witches were burned. Metascore: 73.
The Night House (2021, R): A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband’s disturbing secrets. Metascore: 68.
The Green Knight (2021, R): A fantasy retelling of the medieval story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Metascore: 85.
Pyewacket (2017, Not Rated): A frustrated, angst-ridden teenage girl awakens something in the woods when she naively performs an occult ritual to kill her mother. **Invite the teens in your household to watch this one with you. Metascore: 56.
Unwelcome (2022, R): Married couple Maya and Jamie escape their urban nightmare to the tranquility of rural Ireland only to discover malevolent and murderous goblins lurking in the gnarled, ancient wood at the foot of their new garden. **This film is weird and at times quite dark, but also a little playful? There’s humor to balance out the darkness. Metascore: 64.
Kill List (2011, Not Rated): Nearly a year after a botched job, a hitman takes a new assignment with the promise of a big payoff for three killings. What starts off as an easy task soon unravels, sending the killer into the heart of darkness. **This one is relentlessly violent and deeply disturbing — it is DARK — but I stayed for the friendship and the Folk Horror content. Metascore: 67.
Moloch (2022, Not Rated): Betriek lives at the edge of a peat bog in the North of the Netherlands. When she and her family are attacked by a random stranger one night, Betriek sets out to find an explanation. The more she digs, the more she becomes convinced that she is being hunted by something ancient. **My first Dutch horror film, and I really enjoyed the setting and conflict. It’s a complicated narrative, and after finishing the film I watched the first half again. No Metascore.
Happy Spooky Viewing this Halloween!