What Exactly Is Folk Horror? Delving into Plots of Cults, Medieval Witchcraft, and Pagan Symbols in this Genre Mystery


Horror has emerged as the most diverse film genre, with branches reaching into ancient practices and exploring myths, folklore, and legends. The horror genre has infiltrated every aspect of life, giving it a spine-chilling twist, from slasher to monster, gothic to paranormal.

The Ongoing Allure of Folk Horror: A Genre that Never Fades

While folk horror has been a presence in the film industry for decades, its periodic resurgence reminds us of its enduring appeal. Recent releases such as “A Guide to Becoming an Elm Tree” and “Starve Acre” have received praise for their slow, eerie build toward terror, proving that the genre continues to captivate both critics and fans.

Global Hauntings: Folk Horror’s Influence Across Continents

Folk horror has roots all over the world, from Finnish director Erik Blomberg’s 1952 classic “The White Reindeer” to Southeast Asian cinema, where filmmakers draw inspiration from local, esoteric beliefs and cultures. The genre transcends borders, captivating audiences with its unique blend of ancient traditions and supernatural elements.

Stephen King and the Worldwide Reach of Folk Horror in Literature

Beyond the film industry, folk horror has made its way into literature, with American author Stephen King’s 1984 novel “Children of the Corn” serving as a prime example. According to folk horror author Adam Scovell, the genre explores “the evil under the soil, the terror in the backwoods of a forgotten lane, and the ghosts that haunt stones and patches of dark, lonely water.”

Must-Watch Folk Horror Films: A Journey into the Macabre

  1. The Wicker Man, 1973: Investigate the untethered activities of communities on the isolated Scottish island of Summerisle, where Celtic paganism has replaced Christianity. The film delves into occult traditions and sacrifice by drawing inspiration from ancient rituals involving wicker men.
  2. The Witch, 2015: Set in 1630s New England, this film delves into the era’s all-consuming patriarchy, exploring religious and witchcraft hysteria. It weaves a story of dread and familial turmoil against the backdrop of the looming Salem witch trials.
  3. Midsommar, 2019: This critically acclaimed indie film, directed by Ari Aster, transports viewers to a midsummer festival in rural Halsingland, Sweden. A troubled couple becomes entangled in a close-knit community, challenging traditional customs and unsettling the audience.
  4. Men, 2022: Harper Marlowe, played by Jessie Buckley, discovers a mysterious and dark story after renting an isolated house in a seemingly odd English village. Through pagan symbolism, the film, which features the symbolic Green Man, explores themes of life, death, and rebirth.


What makes folk horror unique in the horror genre?

Folk horror delves into ancient practices, myths, folklore, and legends, providing a diverse and one-of-a-kind take on the horror genre.

How does folk horror transcend borders in the film industry?

Folk horror has a global influence, with films like Finland’s “The White Reindeer” and Thailand and South Korea’s “The Medium” drawing on local, esoteric beliefs and cultures.

How does the genre deal with various aspects of terror?

According to folk horror author Adam Scovell, the genre delves into “the evil under the soil, the terror in the backwoods of a forgotten lane, and the ghosts that haunt stones and patches of dark, lonely water.”

Can you provide examples of must-watch folk horror films?

Certainly! “The Wicker Man” (1973), “The Witch” (2015), “Midsommar” (2019), and “Men” (2022) are some notable folk horror films.