Horror movies are a great watch no matter what time of the year it is. However, there’s something extra thrilling about binge watching scary flicks during the depths of winter – it’s the modern version of telling ghost stories around a log fire. When it’s cold and dark outside, is there anything better than scaring yourself silly with a veritable chiller, especially if that movie also tells a dark and twisted story?
Here’s a list of five of the most adrenaline-pumping horror movies that will chill your blood and your bones this winter, no matter how high you crank up the heating!
Hereditary (2018) Director: Ari Aster
In comparison with the rest of the films on this list, Hereditary is the new kid on the block. But boy, is it scary! Many of today’s horrors rely far too much on shock and gore, bombarding your senses from the offset but not actually delivering any real chills. Ari Aster’s debut is a different beast entirely; filled with suspense and mystery it takes you on a terrifying journey that you really don’t see coming (if you’ve managed to avoid spoilers for the past year or so!).
Featuring a career defining-performance from Toni Collette – ably supported by Gabriel Byrne and Alex Wolff – Hereditary isn’t just a tension-filled horror in its own right, it’s also very much a love story to those iconic classics like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, which paved the way for horror movies into the 21st century and beyond.
The Wicker Man (1973) Director: Robin Hardy
No, not that one! The 1973 version, aka the only version we would ever discuss or think about on this blog, no matter how amusing it is to see Nicholas Cage given free rein to be, well, Nicholas Cage. This truly stunning horror, featuring the Lord of Misrule himself Sir Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward still delivers on all factors, despite it being almost 50 years old.
The movie itself was actually based on a novel by David Pinner. In 1971, Pinner sold the rights of his novel, Ritual, to Christopher Lee, which was then adapted into the film we love today by Anthony Shaffer.
Blue Velvet (1986) Director: David Lynch
If there’s one thing that really makes a David Lynch movie stand out from the rest of the pack it’s the juxtaposition between horrific acts and small town life. Nothing is ever what it seems in a Lynch movie, especially when it comes to things on the surface and Blue Velvet is an excellent portrayal of the murder and madness that lies beneath the picture perfect picket fences of Lumberton, North Carolina.
Starring longtime Lynch-collaborator Kyle McLachlan, Laura Dern, the luminous Isabella Rossellini and a truly deranged Dennis Hopper, Blue Velvet will stay with you long after you finish watching. David Lynch’s seminal classic also happens to be widely recommended. Everyone from movie buffs to poker players includes this chilling psychological horror on their top ten lists of films.
Angel Heart (1987) Director: Alan Parker
When the temperatures are creeping below zero degrees outside, transport yourself to the hot and humid New Orleans with Neil Jordan’s absolute corker of a neo-noir psychological horror. Angel Heart may have bombed at the box office, despite the casting of movie greats Robert De Niro and Mickey Rourke, but it’s widely appreciated by critics and horror movie buffs alike.
Another movie adaptation of a novel (Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg), Angel Heart is not just an exhilarating movie as far as the story and performances go, it is absolutely the most stylish film on this list. It’s got it all: De Niro hamming it up in the best possible way, a quintessential Mickey Rourke performance, mystery, the occult, voodoo, the Big D himself and that star turn from Lisa Bonet that proved she was an edgy and independent actress who wasn’t afraid to take risks.
Ringu (1998) Director: Hideo Nakata
The only foreign language film on our list but not because it’s the only one worth watching, just that we’re limiting ourselves to five recommendations in this post! One of the pioneering movies of the J-Horror genre, nothing comes close to the experience that is Ringu, despite some solid sequels (and a prequel) and a not-bad Hollywood remake.
Hideo Nakata’s masterpiece doesn’t just play on our fears of dying a gruesome, lonely death, it also transforms innocuous, everyday items into terrifying symbols. Video tapes may no longer be in vogue, but we’re all still in thrall to our phones (whether mobile or not) so there’s plenty in this pre-Millennium gem to still chill us. And let’s not forget that ending…