Many horror movies are set in the dead of winter (pun intended) and for good reason. Isolation is a commonly used theme of the genre, and what better way to raise the tension than to use forces of nature like bitter cold and blizzards to isolate the characters from the rest of the world?
When trapped in a cacophony of fear, fleeing impending doom is no longer an option for the characters. They must face the monsters they fear most. A welcomed byproduct of a snowed-in setting is the stir-crazy state of mind the characters must battle along with their fears as cabin fever begins to set in. And what’s not to love about the striking contrast of scarlet red against a blanket of pure white?
The latest horror movie to utilize a classic, winter setting is The Lodge. From the directors of Goodnight Mommy (2014), this horrifying tale follows a family who retreat to their remote cabin over the holidays. When the father (Richard Armitage) is forced to abruptly depart for work, he leaves his children, Aidan (Jaeden Martell) and Mia (Lia McHugh), in the care of his new girlfriend, Grace (Riley Keough). Isolated and alone, a blizzard traps them inside the lodge as tarrying events summon specters from Grace’s dark past.
The fear of feeling trapped in a sea of ice and snow that the trailer conveys brings to mind classic horror movies of old that also chose to set their unsettling, and often downright horrifying, tales in a winter wonderland. Join us as we countdown the top 5 winter horror movies of all time.
5. DEAD SNOW (2009)
A ski vacation turns horrific for a group of medical students when they are forced to confront a zombie horde. Unlike the others on our list, this 2009 Norwegian production from director and co-writer Tommy Wirkola is a blend of comedy and horror. And oh yeah, did we mention the zombies are Nazis? If you're a fan of Wirkola's action/horror Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), you may want to check this one out. Both blend horror with grisly action and comedy.
4. THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (1957)
A kindly English botanist and a gruff American scientist lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti, the giant creature from folklore, also known as the Abominable Snowman, who is said to inhabit the Himalayan mountains. The Abominable Snowman stars English actor Peter Cushing, who is no stranger to the genre, having played iconic roles in other horrors like Victor Frankenstein in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Doctor Van Helsing in Horror of Dracula (1958), and Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). Although, Cushing is perhaps best known for his role as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
3. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008)
The second movie from Scandinavia to make the list, Let the Right One In is a Swedish romantic horror tale based on the 2004 novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, who also wrote the screenplay. The story follows Oskar, a bullied 12-year-old boy, who finds friendship and revenge through Eli, a vampire child, in a suburb of Stockholm in the early 1980s. You may recognize the director, Tomas Alfredson, from his Academy Award-nominated drama/mystery Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). He revisited the winter setting for his crime/mystery The Snowman in 2017.
2.THE THING (1982)
If you've seen this classic from the great John Carpenter, it's a good bet it stuck with you for a while after the end credits rolled. Based on John W. Campbell Jr.'s 1938 novella Who Goes There?, this science-fiction horror tells the story of a research team in Antarctica who is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims. The ultimate in "who can you trust" suspense, the movie stars an ensemble cast led by Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, and Charles Hallahan, among others. Almost as unnerving as the movie itself is the iconic poster art from legendary artist Drew Struzan.
1.THE SHINING (1980)
The Thing and The Shining could really be interchangeable at the top of our list, but it's hard to argue with Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel taking the #1 spot. This result of combining a legendary filmmaker with a legendary writer is a haunting tale of a family that heads to an isolated hotel in the Colorado Rockies for the winter, where the father, superbly portrayed by Hollywood icon Jack Nicholson, accepts the role of off-season caretaker. His psychic son is able to see into the horrific forebodings of the hotel's past and future as a sinister presence influences the father into violence. You may not want to watch this one along...or at night...just saying.
The Lodge is now playing at select Regal theatres.