Folk Horror movie – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Film Genres Glossary Terms

What is Folk Horror?

Folk horror is a subgenre of horror that explores themes of folklore, superstition, and rural traditions. These films often depict isolated communities with dark secrets and ancient rituals. The genre typically focuses on the clash between modernity and the past, as well as the fear of the unknown and the supernatural. Folk horror movies often feature elements such as witchcraft, paganism, and eerie landscapes.

Origins of Folk Horror

The term “folk horror” was first coined in the 1970s to describe a specific type of horror film that drew inspiration from British folklore and traditions. The genre has its roots in the gothic horror novels of the 19th century, which often featured rural settings and supernatural elements. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s that folk horror truly came into its own with films like “The Wicker Man” and “Witchfinder General.”

Key Themes in Folk Horror Films

Some key themes in folk horror films include the fear of the unknown, the power of nature, and the tension between modernity and tradition. These films often explore the darker aspects of rural life, such as isolation, superstition, and the loss of individuality. Folk horror also frequently delves into themes of sacrifice, ritual, and the supernatural.

Iconic Folk Horror Films

One of the most iconic folk horror films is “The Wicker Man” (1973), directed by Robin Hardy. The film follows a police officer who investigates a missing girl on a remote Scottish island only to uncover a sinister pagan cult. Another classic example of folk horror is “Witchfinder General” (1968), directed by Michael Reeves, which tells the story of a sadistic witch hunter in 17th century England.

Other notable folk horror films include “Blood on Satan’s Claw” (1971), “Kill List” (2011), and “A Field in England” (2013). These films all explore themes of rural terror, ancient rituals, and the supernatural in unique and unsettling ways.

Influence of Folk Horror on Other Genres

Folk horror has had a significant influence on other genres of film and literature, particularly in the realm of psychological horror and supernatural thrillers. The genre’s focus on folklore, superstition, and the occult has inspired countless filmmakers to explore similar themes in their work.

For example, the 2015 film “The Witch” drew heavily from folk horror traditions with its tale of a Puritan family in 17th century New England who are terrorized by a malevolent force in the woods. The film’s eerie atmosphere and emphasis on religious paranoia are reminiscent of classic folk horror films like “The Wicker Man.”

Contemporary Folk Horror Films

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in folk horror with a new wave of films that explore the genre in innovative ways. One such example is “Midsommar” (2019), directed by Ari Aster, which follows a group of friends who travel to a remote Swedish village for a midsummer festival only to discover dark secrets lurking beneath the surface.

Another contemporary folk horror film is “The Ritual” (2017), directed by David Bruckner, which follows a group of hikers who become lost in a sinister forest in Sweden and are stalked by a malevolent presence. These films continue to push the boundaries of the genre while paying homage to its rich history and traditions.