Ari Aster’s Midsommar definitely made headlines when it was released a year ago. After the success of his debut film, Hereditary, people have been looking forward to his next works. And Midsommar did not disappoint. The brilliant acting of the cast – especially Florence Pugh – and the excellent writing and direction of this folk horror film deserved the praises of film critics and awards it got. If you are one of the people who greatly enjoy the film, we’ve listed down some of the best folk horror films to watch after Midsommar.
But first, what is folk horror? There’s really no definite criteria to define what films or TV shows fall under folk horror. If we were to define it simply, it’s a combination horror and folklore. In Howard David Ingham’s We Don’t Go Back: A Watcher’s Guide to Folk Horror, he describes the common element of the genre as,
Out in the isolated places unusual superstitions flourish, and these are the places we came from. The old places. Even if the old gods have died, there’s something about these ancient geographies that makes new gods flourish where the old once reigned. The old grounds, lain fallow, are fertile for this sort of thing. But we don’t go back. That way leads to madness.
We start our list with the “Unholy Trinity” of folk horror films.
The Witchfinder General (1968)
The Witchfinder General is a 1968 film based on a novel with the same name. The film tells the story of Matthew Hopkins, a witch hunter who lived in the 17th century and claimed to be the Witchfinder General. In the film, he is appointed by British Parliament to investigate cases of sorcery, Satanism, and witchcraft in East Anglia’s countryside. However, the film soon shows that he is actually a villain that takes advantage of his position. He commits crimes and even murders innocent people in the name of God.
The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)
The Blood on Satan’s Claw is the second film of the trinity. The film opens in Medieval Britain where a farmer digs up the bones of a corpse. Soon after, a string of bizarre events take place in the village, more specifically, a group of teens who start acting strangely. This group of teens, with the leadership of a girl named Angel, eventually convert to devil worship. They start to initiate demon rituals in hopes of contacting a devil that supposedly possessed the corpse once. This movie is the perfect combination of an isolated community and crazy beliefs.
The Wicker Man (1973)
The last of the “Unholy Trinity” is The Wicker Man. This is probably the most popular out of the three and is based on a 1967 novel by David Pinner. Moreover, this could also be called the ancestor of Midsommar. It follows the story of a Christian policeman, Sgt. Howie, who visits a Scottish island to investigate a case of a missing girl. Arriving there, he soon finds out that the island practices Paganism, and bears witness to their strange strange and unnatural rituals. If that isn’t folk horror enough, there’s also a human sacrifice ritual that happens at the end.
The Witch (2015)
Folk horror films’ golden age was definitely in the 60s-70s. However, the genre has recently been making a comeback in the last few years. The Witch is probably one of the more recent films that played a factor in reviving the genre. The film follows the story of a banished 15th-century Puritan family living at the edge of a remote forest in New England. The horror within the family happens when the youngest child of the family disappears while under the care of Thomasin, the family’s eldest daughter. The whole movie is haunting as it brilliantly portrays the historical setting of the film, along with the supernatural and horror elements of the story. The film’s excellent production design also played a role in executing the story perfectly.
The Wailing (2016)
Folk horror movies usually take place in the West – a remote island in Europe, or even an isolated community in America. However, it’s a different case for Na Hong Jin’s The Wailing. The film successfully makes folk horror its own with its own beliefs and superstitions in South Korea. The story of the film starts when a stranger appears in the remote village of Gokseong. The appearance of the stranger starts off a series of murders and the spread of a deadly illness within the village which eventually led the whole community in a panic. When the daughter of a police officer investigating the village gets sick with the same illness, he seeks the help of a shaman to help him. Eventually, the audience realizes how truly disturbing and unsettling the film is.
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