In The Blood on Satan’s Claw, a literary masterpiece by Piers Haggard, the phrase “folk horror” was first coined. It was subsequently used by Mark Gatiss to refer to a number of British horror movies from the 1970s in his documentary A History of Horror. A modern renaissance that introduced the themes of cults, isolation, landscape, and folk belief to contemporary audiences led to the sub genre’s formation in retrospect. However, it wasn’t until then that it was fully acknowledged. The films listed below that peek into the world of folk horror are must-watches for those who are interested in the sub genre.

1. A Field In England (2013)

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Director- Ben Wheatley

Whitehead is a nervous Royalist and former assistant to a deceased alchemist. He finds himself fleeing the aftermath of a battle in the English Civil War in the company of three simple-minded, amiable Roundhead recruits. They are more interested in finding the closest alehouse than in continuing the battle. They run into the intimidating and armed O’Neil, who works for the alchemist and has taken his papers. Hence, forcing Whitehead to use a gold divining rod in the field. Whitehead finds a metal box and starts excavating. However, soon death will be visiting the field due to greed, fear, the desire for survival, and an unintentional meal of “magic” mushrooms.

2. November (2017)

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Director- Rainer Sarnet

The Estonian author Andrus Kivirähk’s bestseller of the past 20 years, “Rehepapp,” served as the inspiration for the film “November.” Magic, sardonic humour, and passionate love are all mixed together in the movie. The plot takes place in an Estonian village where werewolves, the plague, and spirits are prevalent. How to survive the bleak, chilly winter is the main issue facing the peasants. And nothing is off limits to achieve that goal. People commit theft from one another, their German manor lords, spirits, the devil, and Christ. All will surrender their souls to kratts, which are thieving wood and metal monsters. They aid their owners by stealing more, in order to protect them. They steal even when their barns are already stuff to the brim.

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The villagers’ fixation with stealing transforms them into the soulless creatures they control, the kratts. A young farm girl named Liina who is hopelessly and despondently in love with a country guy named Hans is the movie’s primary character. The girl transforms into a werewolf out of longing and jumps into a freezing pond. In the name of love, she is prepare to die. The pragmatist farmers must decide if the life they have worked so hard to achieve is worthwhile if it lacks soul.

3. Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)

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Director-  Benjamin Christensen

This hybrid film, which is both a documentary and a work of fiction. It is broken up into seven chapters and aims to shed light on the various myths that revolve around the mysterious mental diseases that sparked the unrelenting witch hunts of mediaeval times. Witchcraft Through the Ages explores the horrifying inhumanities of the Inquisition and its obscene interrogation techniques through a series of graphic vignettes and original gravures. The inquisitors would shatter human limbs and torture human flesh until the accused hag confessed or implicated another woman in witchcraft. Hysteria is frequently mistaken for demonolatry, from the Middle Ages to the 1920s.

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4. The VVitch (2015)

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Director- Robert Eggers

In the middle of the seventeenth century in New England, the tormented patriarch William and his Puritan family established a modest cottage on the fringes of a dense and dark forest. Soon after the struggling family moves into their new, remote farmhouse, tragedy strikes when their infant kid disappears without a trace. Shortly after, further unanticipated and severe misfortunes befall the devout farmers.

5. The Wicker Man (1973)

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Director- Robin Hardy

Searching for Rowan Morrison, a missing adolescent girl, Sergeant Neil Howie lands on a Scottish island. The location is owned by Lord Summerisle and is well-known for its apple and other fruit plantations as well as its harvest. Rowan is likely alive and being prepped for sacrifice when Sgt. Howie finds that the natives are pagans who follow ancient traditions. The story’s terrible twist at the conclusion is unexpected.

6. Midsommar (2019)

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Director- Ari Aster

Against the backdrop of their impending breakup, Dani, an American graduate student, turns to Christian, her self-centered and distant boyfriend, who is traumatised and still trying to come to terms with a horrific family tragedy. Dani joins Christian, two of his friends, and their cryptic buddy Pelle to attend an occult event held at a remote pagan commune tucked away in the middle of the Swedish province of Hälsingland once every ninety years in the hopes of saving their deteriorating relationship. Dani feels content at last, for the first time in a long time. The strange traditions of the welcome town begin to mar the legendary ideal in this warm and lush sanctuary of peace, harmony, and unceasing sunlight, though, as Pelle’s visitors begin to feel uneasy. However, the naturalistic ceremonies appear violent in the perspective of visitors who are not familiar with them.

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7. Apostle (2018)

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Director- Gareth Evans

Thomas, a former Christian missionary, is sent in 1905 to rescue his sister from a cult after she has been abducted. He arrives to the island where they reside and starts navigating the area. The hierarchy takes no chances when looking for spies and traitors since they are concerned about them. Our hero befriends a young man whose parents would disapprove of his relationship with the girl he is seeing. Thomas offers the boy his cutthroat razor, which turns out to be a crucial moment in the narrative. Thomas learns the actual nature of the “goddess” who lives on the island as the cult leadership realises that he is the traitor.

The young man’s girlfriend’s father learns of their relationship and begins to argue his case. The little boy then attacks the father, but the man gathers the islanders to capture and punish the child. This causes the cult to split apart and pits the leaders against one another. Even though it almost cost him his life, Thomas manages to locate his sister and help her flee. Thomas, it turns out, has been waiting for the “goddess,” and she gives him a vision. The boy’s father takes over the cult at this time, setting up a confrontation between the leader, the father, and Thomas.