Folk horror recs?
September 25, 2017 5:09 PM   Subscribe

The Wicker Man (1973) is one of my favorite horror movies, and I'm interested in further exploring the genre of "folk horror". What movies/books do you recommend?
posted by celestine to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
The Witch (2015)
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 5:16 PM on September 25, 2017 [8 favorites]

Children of the Corn (Steven King short story, movie, remake)
posted by w0mbat at 5:22 PM on September 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Kill List - Note that this is a modern and pretty brutal horror film, but it is really excellent!
posted by Kafkaesque at 5:28 PM on September 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

The Blair Witch Project (1999)
In the Company of Wolves (1984)
The Village (2004)
Witchfinder General (1968)
posted by OrangeDisk at 5:31 PM on September 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

Does something like Race With The Devil count as folk horror?
posted by infinitewindow at 5:34 PM on September 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Children of the Stones (TV) 1977
posted by irisclara at 5:38 PM on September 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

Elizabeth Hand has more than a few around that topic.

Charles de Lint works with the folk customs a lot as well, so some of his darker works might appeal to you.
posted by mark k at 5:40 PM on September 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

King's Gunslinger series. Ignore the movie.
posted by aetg at 5:41 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just remembered Black Death.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 5:46 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Wasp Factory

Clive Barker's Books of Blood (there's also a good comic based on these).
posted by aspersioncast at 5:46 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ben Wheatley's Kill List
posted by GilloD at 5:50 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Harvest Home was also a book. Not sure I'd recommend it per se, I have really mixed feelings about it but it was at least kind of memorable.

A Field in England (by the same director as Kill List, cited above) -- it's a very polarizing movie, but I really enjoyed it and it totally scratches that Wicker Man-esque itch. I do not usually like avant-garde weird movies, I don't like rewatching movies, and it typically takes me 4-5 sittings to get through a film -- but I watched A Field In England in a single sitting and then I immediately watched it again.
posted by phoenixy at 5:59 PM on September 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Another vote for Kill List and The Borderlands is worth a look.
posted by SometimeNextMonth at 6:05 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Last Days by Adam Neville might fall under your umbrella of want. It's about a murderous hippy cult driven by supernatural forces. The cult is obviously based on the Process Church of the Final Judgement (but they didn't murder anyone) and it's an entertaining read if not a bit long. Definitely worth checking out if you like to read.
posted by NoMich at 6:10 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

These may or may not be what you want, but I absolutely adore The Wicker Man (as in it's one of my favorite movies ever) and I find these movies have some ... compatibilities, let's say.

Josephine Decker's Butter on the Latch and Thou Was Mild and Lovely are both less overt horror and more just ... weird and off-putting, but in a good way. I liked Butter on the Latch more, to be honest.

Also worth a look is The Love Witch, which draws heavily on the tradition of British horror but subverts it while not making fun of it. It's sort of a singular movie -- I think it's an absolute masterpiece and insane and masterful and gorgeous, but I get it's not everyone's taste. But for me, it hits a lot of the spots The Wicker Man does. It's not quite folk horror, exactly, but it's toeing the line. And you should watch it anyway.
posted by darksong at 6:11 PM on September 25, 2017 [4 favorites]

While there are many of them I think the classics (other than the Wicker Man and Witchfinder General) remain:
Films -
Night of the Demon (1957)
Devil Rides Out (1968)
The Witches (1966)
The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971)

British TV -
Play for Today (1970 TV Series) Episode: Robin Redbreast, Penda's Fen, Red Shift
Against the Crowd (1975 TV Series) Episode: Murrain
The Stone Tape (1972 TV Movie)
The Owl Service (1969 Mini-Series)

And these British PSAs - The Spirit Of Dark And Lonely Water and Apaches.

Here is an fairly large list of folk horror titles (including many non-English language films and more contemporary films)

Books - M.R. James is the obvious choice but the recent book The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley. More academic: Folk Horror - Hours Dreadful and Things Strange by Adam Scovell.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:18 PM on September 25, 2017 [12 favorites]

The Lottery
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:25 PM on September 25, 2017 [3 favorites]

The Village of the Damned (based on the John Wyndham novel The Midwich Cuckoos)
Jerusalem's Lot (Stephen King period short story, about vampires, companion piece to his novel Salem's Lot, which depicts the same town a couple hundred years later)
Carmilla, a vampire novel by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
M. Night Shyamalan's The Village (but it's not good)
Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon
Agree with above advice that lots of content in King's Dark Tower novels- especially the first one, The Gunslinger, fits the bill.
Maybe... the White Walker plotline in Game of Thrones?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:49 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by cyclopticgaze at 7:19 PM on September 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

And for a soundtrack, listen to First Utterance by Comus! The musical equivalent of chillingly dark folk horror movies. So good.
posted by Dr. Wu at 8:24 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Brace yourself for A Field in England, new king of this genre.

Then maybe look up Children of the Stones on YouTube or hunt down a Nigel Kneale box set.
posted by Artw at 8:26 PM on September 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh, and for recent books Chalk by Paul Cornell. I assume you have already Mythago Wood-ed and caught all the Alan Garner books?
posted by Artw at 8:28 PM on September 25, 2017

The children's book Wild Hunt of the Ghost Hounds if you are in America or The Wild Hunt of Hagworthy if you are in the UK.

You may find these books by Wyrd Harvest Press of interest.

The novel The Ritual, by Adam Nevill, is about hikers stumbling across a terrifying paganism in a forest in Sweden. It's also just been made into a film.
posted by tiger tiger at 12:56 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another vote for A Field In England... it's one of my favourite films of the last few years. And the works of M. R. James.

The episode 'Baby' from Beasts.

It's worth tracking down the old tv series Hammer House of Horror - in particular the episodes: 'Witching Time', 'Children of the Full Moon' and 'The Two Faces Of Evil' (aka 'The one with the hitchhiker in the yellow coat')

Much more obscure but pretty much pure folk horror was the tv series West Country Tales. There's a few eps on youtube... I'd give 'The Poacher' a go... and especially 'The Beast'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:33 AM on September 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

For Lovecrafty Folk Horror that isn't just fighting cultists in a hedge... The Events at Poroth Farm by T.E.D. Klein.

Also Sticks by Karl Edward Wagner for your original Blair Witchiness.
posted by Artw at 6:40 AM on September 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

Bada bing, alla kazam, klaatu barada nikto: 20 Best Horror Films Based on Folk Tales Around the World.
posted by scratch at 11:01 AM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is more of a folk horror comedy, but Hot Fuzz is a lot of fun.

The first big story in the book Lovecraft Country has a lot of folk horror elements, but not as much later in the book. However, the book was so darn good, I'm recommending it anyway.

The Last Exorcism was a lot better than I expected, and had a lot of folk horror kind of elements but in a found footage format.
posted by helloimjennsco at 12:03 PM on September 26, 2017 [4 favorites]

Just finished watching The Living and the Dead, a one-season BBC One TV series, which is more eerie/spooky than full-out horror.
posted by bCat at 4:35 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's not really folk horror, but "Don't Look Now" shares a lot of the same brooding atmosphere as "The Wicker Man" and they were originally released as a double feature. It also has a very famous sex scene with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.

Try not to google it though, as the first page of results is rife with visual spoilers.

Otherwise nthing Ben Wheatley. Maybe also the recent Korean film "The Wailing".
posted by chappell, ambrose at 10:06 PM on September 26, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, & just anything Algernon Blackwood.
posted by moons in june at 4:58 AM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

The unrelated short story "The Great God Pan" by M John Harrison is also worth a read - fantastic, modern folk horror. It's collected in the "Poe's Children" anthology.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:34 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

[Quite rightly there are a lot of suggestions of M.R. James in the above answers (both the stories and the adaptations). But I don't think anyone has pointed out yet that all of his stories are available for free on Wikisource.]
posted by chappell, ambrose at 9:22 AM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

One more I'll point out is the film Eyes of Fire. It is on the IMDB list I linked to above but I think it deserves a bit more attention as a spiritual ancestor of the Witch. Also I think there's a neglected sub genre of Folk Horror featuring North American indigenous supernatural legend. In light of that, there was a Canadian show produced in Quebec in the early 80s called Indian Legends (in French L├ęgendes indiennes), that I think does a good job of conveying the mysterious dread that can percolate up in the best examples of Folk Horror. The creepiest episodes don't seem to be available on Youtube but here's a few that give you a taste of what I'm talking about: 1, 2, 3, 4.
posted by Ashwagandha at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all, these are fantastic recs! I'll be getting super spooky with these this October!
posted by celestine at 4:36 PM on September 29, 2017

Speaking of T.E.D. Klein, you might also try The Ceremonies.
posted by darchildre at 4:44 PM on September 30, 2017

It's a game, but: Outlast 2.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:25 PM on October 2, 2017

Wakewood is worth watching if you like the genre.
posted by Captain Fetid at 8:54 AM on October 3, 2017

I'm late but another recommendation for this genre: The BBC4 radio drama Pilgrim, unfortunately not available free anymore but you can get all four seasons in two collections from Amazon.

It a 'fair folk' themed show with a good dose of scary, malevolent types. The fantastic and weird elements are literal though (e.g. the horror comes from the faeries, not the people believing in faeries.)
posted by mark k at 10:59 AM on October 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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