The horror genre is responsible for a lot of our October entertainment, whether it’s paranormal, gory, or suspenseful, there’s nothing like a good scary movie to get you in the Halloween spirit. Despite the genre’s immense popularity, style and horror don’t always correlate, usually due to the focus on atmosphere, and the conventions of jump scares, darkness, and special effects. This means that when a horror film manages to focus on cinematography, it tends to be brilliant. Here’s our list of films that succeed at this, including a good few you may never have heard of.
Suspiria is a technicolour masterpiece by Italian director Dario Argento, that tells the gory story of an American dancer starting at a German ballet school, and her discovery of the place’s dark past, as she unravels secrets of witchcraft, murder, and sacrifice within the dance company. The gorgeous sets and suspenseful direction make it a cinematic dream – or nightmare – of phantasmagoria. It’s no wonder a remaster has been released in recent years after it’s confiscation and editing in the 80s, and a cold and Berlin-Esque remake featuring Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson for Amazon Studios created in 2018. Suspiria is a stunning film that continues to influence films even outside of the genre.
SUSPIRIA – 40th Anniversary 4K Restoration Trailer (2017)
The Love Witch (2016)
A double-take at the release date is understandable for this film, as it looks like it was taken directly from a 1960’s movie theatre, and with it’s corniness and ‘sexploitation’ tropes it acts like it as well. This low budget film is an intentional cult movie, that follows a beautiful witch on a journey of seduction and desire, that eventually leads to insanity and murder. The consistency of the film’s glamour and artistic style is paired with commentary on gender roles and desire, making it iconic.
THE LOVE WITCH Trailer (2016)
Let The Right One In (2008)
Swedish film Let The Right One In is about a sensitive young boy and his friendship with a mysterious girl who could be connected to some brutal murders going on in their town. Filled with macabre suspense and mystery, the story is really one of friendship, shot with classic Scandinavian cinematic style, austere and minimalist.
Let the Right One In Official HD Trailer
The Wicker Man (1973)
The Wicker Man is a mystery horror film that epitomises the extremes of 1970s film. Playing on the concepts of sex, cults and counter-christianity, the film tells the story of a very conservative detective sent to a small scottish island to investigate the report of a missing child. The sergeant observes and explores the island’s strange pagan rituals as he gets closer to tracking down the child, and gets tangled up in their world as he continues to interfere. The film is stylishly shot and directed, and is a clear influence of A24’s Midsommar, another incredibly stylish horror film.
The Wicker Man (1973) Offical Trailer – Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento Horror Movie
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino and Salma Hayek star in this action film about two criminals who cross the mexican border to freedom, only to find themselves in the haunt of a group of vampires. It’s a silly film, but it carries the style and aesthetic of a lot of Tarantino’s work, and it’s a brilliant watch for Halloween.
From Dusk Till Dawn Official Trailer #1 – (1996)
The Craft (1996)
Mid-90s teen film The Craft is iconic for its fashion and quotable lines. Four teenagers explore the dangerous powers of witchcraft to get what they want and end up paying the price. It’s a classic that plays well into the 2020 renaissance of our obsession with covens – and midi skirts.
The Craft (1996) – Official Trailer
Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Rosemary’s Baby is a sinister and suspenseful book-adaptation directed by Roman Polanski. It’s an artful film about a young couple, Rosemary and Guy, and their satanic neighbours, who Rosemary believes are conspiring something terrible when she becomes pregnant. The psychological horror was Polanski’s debut film, and is equal parts terrifying and fashionable against the backdrop of Upper West Side New York
.Rosemary’s Baby (1968) – Modern Trailer (2019)
The Birds (1963)
It would be criminal to talk about stylish horror films without mentioning Alfred Hitchcock. His 1963 film The Birds plays on confusion and fear, as it tells the story of a bizarre and terrifying attack on a town by all of the birds in the area. It’s beautifully shot and directed and remains a prominent cult classic, influencing thriller films since it’s release.
The Birds (1963)
The Neon Demon (2016)
This psychological horror starring Elle Fanning tells the age old story of dangerously being consumed by your dream. A young girl joins the LA world of modelling, and begins to change as she becomes successful, falling from innocence, while her rivals try hard to imitate her success. It’s visually stunning, and plays well to the aesthetic of its title. The film is a dark and stylised commentary on the faults of society and the world of fashion and modelling.
The Neon Demon Official Trailer #1 (2016) – Elle Fanning, Keanu Reeves Horror Movie
The Shining (1980)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Stephen King, The Shining has to be one of the best films for horror and style in the genre. The isolated hotel, in which main character Jack Torrance eventually goes mad, is subtly stylish in decor and the technicolour cinematography and suspenseful directing make it outstanding, visually.
The Shining – [Official Trailer} (1980)
Words by Daisy Greetham
Graphics by Frances Scott