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Must-see winter horror movies
1- The Shining (Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) moves his wife and son to The Overlook Hotel after accepting a job as an off-peak caretaker, however, after a storm traps them in the hotel, Jack slowly begins to lose his grip on reality.
Any horror film list would be incomplete without The Shining, let alone a winter horror list. Kubrick’s alternative adaption of Stephen King’s 1977 novel of the same name may have had a rocky reception upon its release (no surprises there Hollywood!), but over time the film has endured an endless riptide of praise, with Kubrick’s demanding attention to detail encapsulating the horror genres habitual urge to dig deeper under the surface, fleshing out daunting truths. Lead Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall’s enigmatic performances shock and frighten to the point of no return, and no matter how many times one may watch The Shining, it never fails to give you the chills.
2- Frozen (Adam Green, 2010)
After an unsuspecting trio becomes stranded on a ski lift they have to make the decision to either wait it out for the weekend until opening day or to take the chance and jump.
Adam Green’s snowy expedition is simply 90 minutes of nail-biting, foot-tapping tension. The closed setting is a stunning trope when done well, with Frozen being an exemplary feat in contained horror. The nightmare inducing situation allows for countless intense scares, including lurking wildlife, dreaded frostbite, and super effective psychological mind games that will keep you guessing the outcome until the very end. Amalgamating the minimalistic position with a no-holds-barred attitude brings a heavy dose of trepidation to the film that makes an exciting skiing holiday seem like your worst possible nightmare.
3- Curtains (Directed by Richard Ciupka, 1983)
A group of aspiring actresses audition for a role in a prestigious filmmaker’s new movie, however, a masked killer is on the loose and out for blood.
Many eighties slashers may adhere to campgrounds and teenage-ridden forestry, but the criminally underrated Curtains forgoes commonality to deliver an icy scare that thrives in the madness of its own unhinged plot. With a light brush of meta-commentary on cinema and a ragtag of untrusty characters whose appearances are not just movie-meat currency, Curtains adopts an unconventional position within the slasher market, joining the likes of Sleepaway Camp (1983), and April Fools Day (1986), where the inventive kills are just as prevalent as the whodunnit aspect.
4- Dead Snow (Directed by Tommy Wirkola, 2009)
A team of medical students travels to the Artic mountains for a fun weekend, little do they know that a troop of Nazi zombies lies beneath them.
Nothing screams ‘winter horror’ as much as Dead Snow, a Nazi zombie hybrid that actually manages to bypass its absurdly sounding plot to be rather frightening at times. The sincere brutality is made all the more present by the unbelievably graphic kills, ranging from your average zombie frenzies to full-on disembowelments. Dead Snow recognises it’s satirical innateness, leaving more than enough room for Tommy Wirkola to go on the lam and make use of zombie politics to create pitch dark jokes and over the top irreverent plot points.
5- Pontypool (Directed by Bruce McDonald, 2008)
During an average night at the radio station, a report comes in detailing a deadly virus that is spread via the English language.
Based on the second novel in the Pontypool Trilogy (Tony Burgess) is Bruce McDonald’s carefully conducted feature that transforms a radio studio into the most hellish place imaginable. Pontypool understands the fear of confinement, and how claustrophobia-inducing settings and situations can provoke such an intense sense of dread. The dreary melancholy of the sickness at hand perfectly harmonises with the harrowing severity of a virus-based storyline, which in itself is enough to conjure the most horrible nightmares imaginable.
6- Cold Prey (Directed by Roar Uthaug, 2006)
After an injury during a thrill-seeking excursion, a group of snowboarders travels to an abandoned lodge to call for help, but something much darker lies in store for them.
The popularity of this Norwegian snowy slasher is strong, but it should be way rifer than it is. Cold Prey tackles a cat-and-mouse-like game as the motley crew of slasher victims run from a mysterious killer who shows zero mercy. Throughout the exhilarating journey, the film dashes through bloody leaps and bounds to put on a brutal and brilliant show that has the sensibility to display fleshed-out characters whilst also having the gravitas to deliver shock after shock.
7- The Wolf of Snow Hollow (Directed by Jim Cummings, 2020)
Troubled police officer, John Marshall (Jim Cummings) begins to stray from his straight-laced ways after his small town seems to come under attack from werewolves.
The Wolf of Snow Hollow came onto the scene with a whopping ferocity, commanding a beyond-positive reputation within the two years since its release. And anyone whose seen Jim Cumming’s lycanthropic feature will certainly understand all of the praise. The film ever so carefully balances well-timed jokes (with a focus on dark humour) with an enveloping story that is both cryptic and intense. Further complimenting the full-bodied tale are the stellar performances by Cummings himself, along with the likes of Robert Foster (Mulholland Drive), and Riki Lindhome (The Last House on the Left).
8- Let the Right One In (Directed by Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
The constantly bullied Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) finds an endearing connection and unexpected revenge when he meets Eli (Lina Leandersson), the strange new girl in town.
Horror, no matter how good, does not always receive the warmest welcome from mainstream cinema. However, every once in a while a film comes about that is so excellent that not even horror-hating critics can deny its distinction. Let the Right One In’s rightful status is owed to the innately stylized fashion that vampires behold in cinema. It’s the delicateness juxtaposed with that infamous beastly quality that follows the undead in such a mysterious way that always makes the viewer want more. Promoting that habitual command that Let the Right One In thrives in is the film’s rather emotive narrative that dares to tiptoe into the more fragile side of human reflection to shell out a well-rounded motive and create a lingering viewing effect.
9- Misery (Directed by Rob Reiner, 1990)
When successful author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) gets into a car accident, his number one fan Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) comes to his rescue and brings him back to her secluded cabin.
Being based on Stephen King’s 1987 novel of the same name, it’s no surprise that Misery has had audiences squirming in their seats ever since the film’s release 32 years ago. Kathy Bates and James Caan truly make Misery the extreme adventure it is, with their talents putting on classic, but unique displays of that captive vs. villain narrative that can work so well when done perfectly. Even further encouraging the film’s high-stakes state of affairs is the isolated cabin setting that really hones in on Paul’s trapped position, and Annie’s malevolent, domineering repute.
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