Horror Movies

Best Folk Horror Movies Of All Time: A Journey Through the Eerie World of Folklore and Horror

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read the full disclosure for more info.

Folk horror movies, a bewitching subgenre of horror, often weave tales steeped in ancient folklore, rural landscapes, and the dark, unexplored corners of human superstition. These films, ranging from the haunting ‘The Wicker Man’ to Ari Aster’s unsettling ‘Midsommar’, tap into the primal fears embedded in old folk tales and pagan rituals. The appeal of folk horror in modern cinema lies in its ability to evoke a sense of otherworldly terror, often contrasting the serene countryside with underlying, sinister themes. This genre has seen a resurgence in recent years, with films like ‘Hagazussa’ and ‘The Witch’ (starring Anya Taylor-Joy) offering a fresh take on classic folk horror tropes.

The Wicker Man
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
The Witch
Amazon Prime
The Blood on Satan's Claw
Amazon Prime
Kill List
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

The Wicker Man: The Quintessential Folk Horror Movie

The Wicker Man‘, starring the legendary Christopher Lee, is often hailed as one of the best folk horror movies of all time. Set against the backdrop of a remote Scottish island, the film follows a British police officer as he uncovers the island’s peculiar, pagan practices. Its portrayal of a seemingly idyllic village harboring dark secrets has become a defining characteristic of the folk horror subgenre. The film’s climax, featuring a harrowing human sacrifice, has left an indelible mark on horror cinema and continues to haunt audiences to this day.

Midsommar: A Modern Take on Folk Horror

Ari Aster’s ‘Midsommar‘ takes the folk horror genre to new heights. Set during a bright Swedish summer, the film subverts the typical horror movie setting by using daylight to amplify its sinister atmosphere. Florence Pugh delivers a compelling performance as she navigates a bizarre pagan festival that slowly unveils its gruesome rituals. ‘Midsommar’ not only redefines modern folk horror but also explores themes of grief and relationship trauma, making it a standout film in the horror genre.

Häxan: Exploring Witchcraft and Folklore in Cinema

Released in the early 20th century, ‘Häxan‘ is a pioneering work in both the horror genre and the representation of witchcraft in cinema. This silent film, with its blend of documentary-style narration and gothic horror elements, offers a unique look at 15th-century witchcraft beliefs and practices. Its influence on later folk horror films is evident, as it laid the groundwork for the sinister portrayal of witchcraft and folklore that has become synonymous with the genre.

Kwaidan: Japanese Folklore in Horror Cinema

Masaki Kobayashi’s ‘Kwaidan‘, a masterpiece of Japanese horror, brings to life four eerie ghost stories based on traditional Japanese folk tales. The film’s cultural significance lies in its faithful representation of these tales, coupled with Kobayashi’s innovative visual style. Each segment of this horror anthology is a meticulous blend of haunting narratives and striking, dream-like imagery, making ‘Kwaidan’ a must-watch for aficionados of both folk horror and Japanese cinema.

The Witch: A New-England Folktale

Robert Eggers’ ‘The Witch‘, set in 17th century Puritan New England, stands out as a folk horror movie that meticulously captures historical authenticity. The film delves deep into the folklore and superstitions of the time, following the unraveling of a Puritan family as they confront malevolent forces in the isolated countryside. Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal of Thomasin, a young girl accused of witchcraft, adds a haunting depth to the narrative. ‘The Witch’ contributes significantly to the horror genre, blending psychological horror with folkloric elements, and has been acclaimed as one of the best horror films in recent years for its eerie atmosphere and gripping storytelling.

The Blood on Satan's Claw: A Folk Horror Classic

The Blood on Satan’s Claw‘, a British folk horror film, is revered for its exploration of themes like superstition, paganism, and the clash between old world beliefs and emerging modernity. Set in a rural 18th century English village, the film follows the sinister events that ensue after villagers unearth a mysterious, deformed skull. Its narrative weaves a gothic tale of witchcraft and possession, underpinning the folk horror subgenre’s fascination with the rural and the arcane. This movie played a pivotal role in shaping the folk horror genre, contributing to the canon alongside classics like ‘The Wicker Man‘ and ‘Witchfinder General‘.

Kill List: The Blending of Folklore and Modern Horrors

Ben Wheatley’s ‘Kill List‘ presents an intriguing fusion of folk horror with modern horror elements. This contemporary folk horror film follows a former British soldier turned hitman, played by Neil Maskell, as he descends into a nightmarish world of cults and ancient symbols. ‘Kill List’ stands out for its psychological impact, masterfully blending the horrors of modern life with the uncanny and ancient, thereby redefining the boundaries of the folk horror subgenre.

Hereditary: A Family's Folklore Turned Nightmare

Ari Aster’s ‘Hereditary‘, a modern take on folk horror, uses folklore to weave a tale of a family’s descent into madness. The film, starring Toni Collette, incorporates elements of witchcraft and pagan rituals to create a chilling narrative. Its approach to horror is psychological and visceral, making ‘Hereditary’ a standout horror film that has received high ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. The film’s disturbing imagery and exploration of family trauma position it as a significant contribution to both the folk horror genre and the wider horror anthology.

Apostle: A Tale of Cults and Belief

Apostle‘, directed by Gareth Evans and starring Dan Stevens, delves into the dark world of cults and beliefs within the folk horror genre. Set in 1905, the film follows a British conservationist on a perilous mission to rescue his sister from a sinister cult on a remote island. ‘Apostle’ combines elements of gothic horror and folklore to create a gruesome narrative filled with suspense and dread. The film’s reception highlights its impact on modern folk horror, offering a fresh perspective on the power of belief and the horrors it can unleash in secluded communities.

Hagazussa: A Dark and Atmospheric Folk Tale

Hagazussa‘, a folk horror movie set in the 15th century, immerses viewers in a hauntingly atmospheric tale of isolation and paranoia. This German film, set against the backdrop of the remote Alpine countryside, follows Albrun, a solitary woman grappling with her mother’s sinister legacy and the superstitions of her villagers. The visual elements of ‘Hagazussa’ are strikingly gothic, using the fog-laden landscape to amplify the eerie mood. Its thematic exploration of witchcraft and societal ostracization places it as a significant piece in the folk horror genre, offering a nuanced look at the horrors of rural life and pagan belief systems.

Hidden Gems: From Witchfinder General to La Llorona

In the realm of folk horror, films like ‘The Wailing‘ and ‘La Llorona’ offer diverse perspectives on folklore and terror. ‘The Wailing’, a South Korean film, intertwines local superstitions with a series of gruesome and unexplained events, effectively blending the horror and mystery genres. ‘La Llorona‘, a Guatemalan supernatural horror film, reinterprets the famous Latin American legend, adding a contemporary and political layer to the traditional ghost story. Meanwhile, ‘Witchfinder General‘, set in the English countryside and starring Vincent Price, has gained cult status for its brutal portrayal of witch hunts and its impact on British horror.


From the haunting landscapes of ‘Hagazussa’ to the sunlit terror of ‘Midsommar’, this exploration of folk horror films reveals the genre’s diverse and enduring appeal. Whether it’s through the depiction of historical witch hunts in ‘Witchfinder General’ or the modern psychological twists of ‘Hereditary’, folk horror continues to captivate audiences with its blend of folklore, terror, and the uncanny. The enduring appeal of folk horror lies in its ability to evoke primal fears through the exploration of ancient legends, rural superstitions, and the dark side of human nature. As the genre evolves, it continues to offer some of the most unique and memorable experiences in the broader horror landscape.

FAQ: Common Questions and Answers

Folk horror is a subgenre of horror that incorporates rural settings, folklore, and pagan traditions. It often involves elements of witchcraft, superstitions, and ancient rituals. Classic examples include ‘The Wicker Man’ and ‘Witchfinder General’.

Folk horror primarily focuses on rural landscapes, folklore, and the dark aspects of human nature and ancient beliefs. Supernatural horror, on the other hand, often involves ghost stories, hauntings, and otherworldly entities. Folk horror can contain supernatural elements, but its roots are deeply embedded in folk traditions and the natural world.

Some of the best folk horror movies include ‘The Wicker Man’, ‘Midsommar’ directed by Ari Aster, ‘The Witch’ featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, and ‘Kill List’. These films are highly regarded for their atmospheric storytelling and exploration of folkloric themes.

Common elements of folk horror movies include isolated rural settings, folklore, and ancient customs, often linked to pagan beliefs or witchcraft. These films frequently explore the clash between old world superstitions and modern sensibilities, creating a sense of unease and dread.

Folk horror movies are scary due to their ability to tap into primal fears, often invoking the terror of the unknown and the mysteries of the natural world. They play on the fear of ancient curses, rural isolation, and the sinister side of folklore and traditions, creating a deeply unsettling atmosphere.

Share On
Support Us

Support our content, it helps us keep content you like alive.

Share On

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Support Us

Support our content, it help us keep content you like alive. 

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to never miss a new post and get notified when a new horror podcast episode is released.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter to never miss a new post and get notified when a new horror podcast episode is released.

Latest Episodes

Fearmort Podcast

Fearmort Podcast is a horror podcast based on fictional stories placed in a small fictionalized town in the United Kingdom, called Moorton. Stories are full of events, unpredictable characters, and twists that will chill you to the core.

Support Us On Patreon

Support our horror podcast and enjoy ad-free, without interruptions horror stories two days before public release on all platforms and get ability to download all episodes in mp3 format.

horror blogs

Support our horror podcast and enjoy ad-free, without interruptions horror stories two days before public release on all platforms and get ability to download all episodes in mp3 format.

Send us your story to be professionally narrated and featured on our YouTube Channel.

Support our horror podcast and enjoy ad-free, without interruptions horror stories two days before public release on all platforms and get ability to download all episodes in mp3 format.