To extend the strangeness and singularity of “Lamb”, the film by Valdimar Jóhannsson, immersion in folk horror cinema through six feature films to discover.
In Lamb, the first film by Icelandic Valdimar Jóhannsson, a grieving breeders couple make a surprising discovery. One of their sheep gives birth to a unique lamb because it is a hybrid: it is half animal, half human. A gift from heaven or a warning from nature? This is where the powerful message of this unique work lies.
Original, this cinema UFO is as much for its crazy concept as for its different tones. Family drama, fantasy tale or hallucinatory thriller, it’s up to the spectators to decide. In this plurality of genres, Lamb also stands out for his horrific elements inspired by Icelandic folklore.
Folk horror – literal translation of the English term folk horror – is a sub-genre in its own right. It is characterized by the presence of creatures inspired by myths or legends, but also by the practice of rituals and other sacrifices. Above all, he puts nature and its riches at the heart of the stories.
To discover this sub-genre as intriguing as it is disturbing, take a look back at six films from folk horror cinema to see or re-watch as a matter of urgency.
The most cult …
The wicker man by Robin Hardy
It is certainly the quintessential folk horror film. This British movie classic follows the arrival of a police officer on a remote island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. At first surprised by the traditions of the strange community which is there, the officer will understand that he is perhaps the prey of a trap which is closed on him.
Almost fifty years after its release, Robin Hardy’s film continues to amaze and inspire. the Midsommar Ari Aster is also considered the Wicker Man of his generation. The atmosphere is scary, the animal masks are a nightmare and Christopher Lee is amazing as an extravagant spiritual master.
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and on the Shadowz platform
The most mystical …
Picnic at Hanging Rock by Peter Weir
Like Lamb, Picnic at Hanging Rock is not really a horror film, but rather an anomaly, some elements of which directly echo the folk horror subgenre. The story tells of the unexplained disappearance of three residents of a school for young girls in the 20th century, in Australia. The many researches and suspicions will shake the balance of the students and teachers of the establishment.
One viewing is all it takes for this Peter Weir masterpiece to haunt your mind. The film diffuses hypnotic energy and manages to keep its mystery intact. It is even his greatest strength. What really happened? Is this a murder? From a fugue? Have they fallen into a space-time rift? The craziest theories are numerous and continue to flourish as the years go by. Unavoidable.
Available on VOD
The most northerly …
Thale by Aleksander Nordaas
Little known, Thale begins with two young men tasked with cleaning up crime scenes. An unpleasant job, but one that holds many surprises, especially when the duo discovers a strange-looking woman in an isolated cabin. Very quickly, Elvis and Leo, the cleaners, will try to make contact with the creature.
This low-budget film features a figure from Norwegian folklore: the Huldres, beings comparable to mermaids, capable of seducing men, the only difference being that they live on earth and have a cow’s tail. Scary, funny and astonishing, this Scandinavian pearl should appeal to spectators eager for inventiveness.
Available on DVD
The most terrifying …
The Witch by Robert Eggers
With this first feature film, director Robert Eggers caused a sensation. The Witch is interested in the descent into hell of a family excluded from a religious community in the 17th century. Recluse in the woods, the tribe must survive despite the bad harvests and face the disappearance of the newborn. A demonic force seems to want to attack each of them.
Extremely dark, The Witch has become, in just a few years, a new classic of the genre. Robert Eggers is inspired by the cinema codes of the seventies to offer a disenchanted fable. One of the stars of the film is a black goatee with long horns who calls himself Black Phillip. A character like no other who is not ready to be forgotten. The screenwriter of Lamb, Sjón, also signed the director’s third film, The Northman.
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD
The most metaphorical …
The ritual by David Bruckner
Following a shooting in a grocery store, a group of friends lose one of their own. To pay homage to him and to commemorate his disappearance, the gang goes to Sweden for a hike in the middle of the country’s forests. On the spot, things did not go as planned. The men seem to be followed and watched by a strange presence. Lost in the woods, they will discover hell.
Between survival and horror film, The Ritual offers a powerful story about grief and guilt. What to add the right amount of emotion to a feature film with interesting ideas and the last quarter of an hour hallucinating with, as a bonus, a monstrous creature.
Available on Netflix
The strangest …
Gretel And Hansel Oz Perkins
Adapted from the famous tale of the Brothers Grimm, Gretel And Hansel follows the ordeal of a young girl and her brother, lost in the middle of the forest and taken in by a disturbing-looking woman isolated in a large house. The children discover that their host is not who she claims to be.
Oz Perkins – who is none other than the son of the great Anthony Perkins – chooses a well-known tale to turn it into a real nightmarish spree with ingenious staging and breathtaking photography. Above all, he offers actress Alice Krige a role of a scary witch in which she excels.
Available on VOD