A Personal Folk Horror Film Festival

My friend Kate recently made herself a French film festival and has been raving about the movies it led her to. So I thought I’d do something similar. It was about time I watched the classics of folk horror, as well as catching up on some of the newer films. Here are the first few films I watched before I took a diversion into time loop films.

Kill List – I remember watching this with Tom when it first came out on DVD, and being a little taken aback by the turn near the end. Watching it again, it works perfectly, and I’m not sure if that’s from me knowing that was coming or a change in my sensibilities. The film uses the set-up of ‘strangers out of their depth’ well, but the rural is partly replaced by surburbia – including some great scenes in a chain hotel. The kitchen sink drama plays well against the violence, making you face what has bought the central family their pleasant lives. The film tells a powerful story about modern Britain.

The Wailing – I wish I’d seen this in the cinema. At home, I ended up slicing it up as if it was a TV series, and much of the plot flowed over me, so I was very much watching it as a surface. It’s a long movie – almost three hours – and moved from a sort of broad comedy into horror. There is (of course?) a religious ceremony scene which is incredible. I don’t know for sure if I would classify this as folk horror, beyond finding it on a list of folk horror films. But it definitely fit some of the main tropes and played well against the others.

Blood on Satan’s Claw – There’s a lot to like about this film, but it’s also hard to look beyond the graphic rape scene in the middle. I liked the structure of it – the film was originally written as an anthology, before being put together as a single storyline. I know I shouldn’t quibble about production issues, but the shot of the church with modern houses in the background was jarring. This film is obviously influential, but there was little more than historical interest for me.

Quatermass and the Pit – This is one of those films I should have seen years ago. But, you know when something is seminal, you know all about it and the original passes you by (I did read the novelisation as a teen though). John Higgs had watched it recently, and described the ending as “balls-out madness” and I decided to give it a go. It was a much quieter film than I expected, which I enjoyed. For a film made in 1967, there was an interesting old-fashioned mood, particularly from the ‘establishment’ characters.