The Prettiest Horror Movies That Are A Freaky Feast For The Eyes
Horror has been a popular film genre for more than 100 years. Many fans check out the latest horror flick for a simple reason: Horror is exciting. A reliable, run-of-the-mill horror film offers startling jump scares, nauseating gore, and/or disturbing plot developments that stick with the viewer long after the credits roll.
Because of this, some believe horror can only offer cheap thrills. On the contrary, plenty of horror films offer up a visual experience on par with anything else in cinema. Here are a few horror films that have no business being as gorgeous as they are.
- 1176 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros. Pictures
Pan's Labyrinth combines classical mythology with 20th-century Spanish politics to create a modern-day fairytale. Guillermo del Toro's 2007 film centers on a girl named Ofelia, whose home is commandeered by soldiers from the fascist Franco regime shortly after WWII.
As Ofelia adjusts to her new reality, she discovers a lush fantasy world populated with fantastical creatures, such as the faun Pan, who guides her along her journey. Always a skilled colorist, del Toro casts the fantasy sequences in warmer, earthier colors, while presenting the real-world sequences in colder, sterile ones.
- 2184 VOTESPhoto: Paramount Pictures
Washington Irving's short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” has been retold dozens of times since it was first published in 1820. By the time Tim Burton adapted it in 1999, the story of Ichabod Crane's ill-fated journey through the woods had essentially become an American fable.
When designing the film, Burton lit his sets with monochromatic light and used a desaturated color scheme. This not-quite black-and-white theming gave the film an eerie, fairytale-like vibe.
- 3152 VOTESPhoto: Universal Pictures
One contemporary horror director known for their distinct visual style, and particularly their use of character and set design, is Guillermo del Toro.
Crimson Peak is del Toro's 2015 take on a classic gothic horror story. In it, Mia Wasikowska stars as a young woman who travels to a remote Victorian mansion with her new husband and begins having visions of the grotesque ghosts of its former inhabitants.
One staple of the horror genre is the use of the color red; it often represents (or sometimes literally is) blood, gore, and violence. In Crimson Peak, del Toro uses a seeping red clay that oozes into the mansion's halls, foreshadowing the events to come.
The film's setting, Allerdale Hall, was completed in six months, with del Toro personally supervising the construction.
- 4143 VOTESPhoto: New Line Cinema
In the 2000 movie The Cell, Jennifer Lopez stars as a child psychologist who's tasked with entering the mind of Carl Rudolph Stargher, a serial killer afflicted with a virus that leaves him in a coma. Hidden somewhere inside his mind is his latest victim, whom he's kidnapped but hasn't yet killed.
Much of the film takes place within Stargher's mind, which is locked in a dreamlike state. While The Cell's story isn't much to write home about, it offers up a visual feast of surreal landscapes, outlandish costumes, and out-of-this-world makeup effects.
Tarsem Singh directed the film and went on to direct other aesthetically fascinating films like Mirror, Mirror and The Fall.
- 5143 VOTESPhoto: A24
Ari Aster's second feature film, Midsommar, follows a group of self-centered American grad students who stay with the Hårga, an old-fashioned rural community living on a commune in Sweden.
Soon, the students discover that the commune's seemingly idyllic exterior hides a brutal reality: Not only do they conduct human sacrifices, they're willing to kill anyone who threatens their way of life, or even their values.
Besides the film's characteristic use of bright daylight and blooming flowers, one of Midsommar's most striking features is its use of folk art. The Hårga's community is adorned with paintings of their legends and rituals - many of which foreshadow the fates of the grad students.
“It’s like the script for the movie in image form,” said Swedish artist Ragnar Persson, who created the artwork. He was inspired by murals painted on 1800s Swedish farming villages, which were used to pass along knowledge about the community's fertility rituals.
- 6104 VOTESPhoto: Paramount Pictures
Creature features can, in fact, push the envelope artistically, and a movie like Annihilation proves it. The 2018 film stars Natalie Portman as a biologist and ex-soldier who joins a team of researchers to enter a mysterious area called “The Shimmer."
The Shimmer is a reality-bending region surrounding a recently crashed meteor, and it's home to all sorts of nasties, like giant mutant crocodiles and human-plant hybrids.
Director Alex Garland and visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst were inspired to take a scientific approach to their sci-fi, using real-world biology as the basis of their designs. In particular, Whitehurst used "electron-microscope imagery of cells, a lot of mathematical practical shapes, a lot of reference imagery of things like lichens, spores, and mold growing."