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Midsommar One of the year's strangest, most distressing, most memorable films

Dir: Ari Aster, Florence Pugh, Will Poulter, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Liv Mjönes, and Julia Ragnarsson. 18, 147 mins For director Ari Aster , horror starts at home. It’s those closest to us that can inflict the deepest wounds. In his debut film Hereditary , released last year to both great acclaim and some healthy dissent, he dealt with the terrors of the family unit, where guilt and resentment have as powerful a sway as love. Yet he did so with the help of all things macabre – witches, ghosts, and demons – and crafted tableaux straight out of a waking nightmare. His follow-up, Midsommar , serves up much of the same: it’s a break-up movie wrapped up in pagan horror. It’s also bound to be one of this year’s most memorable films, proving that Aster is far from a one-hit wonder.At its centre is Dani (Florence Pugh), a young American woman who’s suffered unspeakable loss but isn’t getting the support she needs from her boyfriend of four years, Christian (Jack Reynor). He’s an emotional brick wall, which isn’t helped by the fact his friends have always encouraged him in his neglectfulness, at one point declaring her frequent phone calls to be “literally abuse”. They do, at the very least, offer her a pity invite to their boys’ trip to northern Sweden, where they plan to visit the hometown of Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren) and take part in its ancestral midsommar celebration – an event that takes place there every 90 years. Each of the men are drawn there for different reasons: Christian and Josh (William Jackson Harper) are both anthropologists with an interest in the local traditions, while Mark (Will Poulter) is only there for the ladies. Pelle, at first, seems just a little homesick, although he’s suspiciously eager to have Dani tag along.From extras.The people of his isolated community, known as the Hårga, seem friendly enough, though a little unusual. Everything they do seems bound by ritual, whether it’s the way they eat, do their laundry, or flirt with their new visitors. Unsurprisingly, this veneer of geniality eventually starts to crack, as their customs become increasingly barbaric with each passing day. The violence is brutal, the deaths are gruesome, and their cruelty is unsurpassed. The orgies are a bit awkward, too. Yet, Midsommar , at the end of the day, isn’t here just to crank scares out of creepy European traditions. It’s about what happens when you drop a fragile relationship into the most extreme of circumstances, in a place where everything is driven by a cycle of life, death, and rebirth.Dani and Christian’s reactions to this unfolding horror tell us everything we need to know about them. In a startling performance from Pugh, we see her mouth start to sink into a downturned grimace, as she collapses onto the floor under the weight of her own anguish, wailing like an animal. Reynor, who’s also excellent, reacts to everything like a deer in headlights. His way to cope is to straight out refuse to process anything that’s happening to him. It’s the fundamental differences between two people, supposedly committed to each other, that ends up being the scariest thing of all. Funny Games places the horror in the familiar setting of home. It follows two young men who hold a family hostage and torture them with sadistic games. The result is far scarier than anything featuring ghosts, witches or demons. Concorde-Castle Rock/Turner 2/37 The Amityville Horror (1979) Directed by : Stuart Rosenberg

The Amityville Horror is based on the true story of the Lutzes, a family who were run out of their home after being terrorised by paranormal phenomena in 1975. Just one year before, Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed six members of his family in the same house. James Brolin and Margot Kidder lead this film, which became one of the biggest hits of 1979. American International Pictures 3/37 Audition (1999) Directed by : Takashi Miike

Japanese horror Audition (1999) follows a widower who meets a woman named Ayoma after staging auditions to meet a potential new partner. Soon, though, her dark past begins to surface, which equates to a pretty disturbing climax. Omega Project 4/37 The Blair Witch Project (1999) Directed by : Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez

Although parodied to death, The Blair Witch Project popularised the found-footage format to terrifying degrees in 1999. People genuinely believed they were watching real clips of three student filmmakers being terrorised by a Maryland legend known as the Blair Witch. Artisan Entertainment 5/37 The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) Directed by : Robert Wiene

Black-and-white silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) is considered the quintessential work of German Expressionism, but also one of the scariest films in cinema history. It follows a hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist to commit murders, and Wiene's shadowed sets and striking visual style combines to unsettle the viewer in ways most filmmakers only dream of managing. Decla-Bioscop 6/37 Candyman (1992) Directed by : Bernard Rose

A contemporary classic of horror cinema, 1992 film Candyman – which spawned two sequels and has a Jordan Peele-produced remake in the works – follows a graduate student whose studies lead her to the legend of a ghost who appears when you say his name three times. TriStar Pictures 7/37 Cannibal Holocaust (1980) Directed by : Ruggero Deodato

Extreme enough to warrant a ban in Italy and Australia, Cannibal Holocaust (1980) was one of the first films to embrace the found-footage format – so much so that Deodato found himself charged with multiple counts of murder due to rumours that several of the film's death scenes were real. He was later cleared. United Artists Europa 8/37 The Descent (2005) Directed by : Neil Marshall

Released in 2005, The Descent follows six women who, upon exploring a cave, battle to survive against the creatures they find inside. It's these creatures that earn this British horror film's placement on this list. Pathé Distribution 9/37 The Exorcist (1973) Directed by : William Friedkin

One of the most controversial films of all time, The Exorcist – which tells the story of the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl named Regan (Linda Blair) – became the first horror to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1974. Warner Bros 10/37 Halloween (1978) Directed by : John Carpenter

Sure, it may be dated, but John Carpenter's original Halloween film – released in 1978 – remains the daddy of all horrors. It re-defined the rule book and has been emulated in everything from Scream (1996) to Trick 'r Treat (2007). The tension, as babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) attempts to evade masked murderer Michael Myers, only heightens with every new watch. Compass International Pictures[ 11/37 Hereditary (2018) Directed by : Ari Aster

Proving that horror is a force to be reckoned with, Hereditary became independent distributor A24's highest-grossing film around the world upon its release in 2018. It tells the story of a family who find themselves haunted after the death of their secretive grandmother and features a final act that left many of its viewers with sleepless nights. A24 12/37 The House of the Devil (2009) Directed by : Ti West

The House of the Devil (2009) follows a student named Samantha who is hired to guard an isolated house with one rule: don't go upstairs. For most of the film's runtime, not much happens, which is what makes the action-packed final third so terrifying. Spoiler: she goes upstairs. MPI Media Group 13/37 The Innocents (1961) Directed by : Jack Clayton

Based upon Henry James' chiller The Turn of the Screw, the plot of 1961 psychological horror film The Innocents concerns a governess who watches over two children and comes to fear that their large estate is haunted by ghosts and that the youngsters are being possessed. 20th Century Fox 14/37 It (1986) Directed by : Tommy Lee Wallace

Forget the effects-laden remake – this version of It, released as a miniseries in 1986, is the most terrifying adaptation of Stephen King's beloved novel to date. It follows a shapeshifting demon who takes the form of a sadistic child-killing clown named Pennywise (Tim Curry). Lorimar Productions 15/37 Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) Directed by : Takashi Shimizu

Japanese horror maestro Takashi Shimizu – who also directed the pretty scary 2005 remake starring Sarah Michelle Gellar – balances mystery with horror in Ju-On: The Grudge, a story based in a cursed house in Tokyo. Lions Gate Films 16/37 Kill List (2011) Directed by : Ben Wheatley

To describe the horrors of Kill List is to ruin the film's surprises, but let's just say this: the final 20 minutes of Ben Wheatley's violent drama from 2011 features some of the most unsettling scenes in any film from this decade. Optimum Releasing 17/37 Lake Mungo (2008) Directed by : Joel Anderson

Taking the form of a mockumentary, the little-seen Australian drama Lake Mungo may have received a limited release in 2008, but its story of a family attempting to come to terms with the drowning of their daughter stays with viewers long after. Arclight Films 18/37 Martyrs (2008) Directed by : Pascal Laugier

The polarising 2008 film Martyrs, often associated with the New French Extremity movement, is the kind of horror that leaves you needing a shower once the credits roll. It follows a young woman's quest for revenge on the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child. Anchor Bay Films 19/37 Night of the Living Dead (1968) Directed by : George A Romero

Younger viewers may be desensitised by the more extreme horror films to have been released in recent decades, but the scares featured in Romero's Night of the Living Dead – including the young girl zombie reveal – remain some of the most chilling committed to celluloid. Continental Distributing 20/37 Nosferatu (1922) Directed by : FW Murnau

Alongside Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920), the character of vampire Count Orlok in 1922 film Nosferatu – played by Mac Schreck – remains one of the most spine-tingling in cinema history. Film Arts Guild 21/37 The Orphanage (2007) Directed by : JA Bayona

Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this acclaimed 2007 chiller follows the disappearance of a young boy in an orphanage, which brings many of the building's terrifying secrets to the fore. Warner Bros Pictures de España 22/37 The Others (2001) Directed by : Alejandro Amenábar

The Others (2001) is a towering achievement for Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar who wrote, directed and scored this Nicole Kidman-fronted tale about a woman trying to protect her children from supernatural forces. It's perhaps the scariest 12-certificate film of all time. Warner Sogefilms 23/37 Paranormal Activity (2009) Directed by : Oren Peli

Could Paranormal Activity be the scariest film of all time? It's certainly one of them. Just when you thought found-footage had had its day, Oren Peli's small-budgeted festival favourite became one of 2009's biggest hits. Audiences lapped up the story of a couple who capture supernatural presences on a camera in their own home. Paramount Pictures[ 24/37 Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Directed by : Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Paranormal Activity 3 earns its place on this list for its final 10 minutes. Set 18 years prior to the events of the first two films, we see the cause of the curse that follows characters Katie and Kristi for the rest of their lives – and it's down to a coven of witches led by their grandmother. Paramount Pictures 25/37 [REC] (2007) Directed by : Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

Played out in real-time, the claustrophobic Spanish horror film [REC] is one of the better examples of found-footage cinema. Released in 2007, it follows a reporter and her cameraman who follow firefighters to a Barcelona building and soon find themselves locked inside with its occupants who are displaying murderous behaviour. Filmax International 26/37 Ring (1998) Directed by : Hideo Nakata

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the story of Ring by now: viewers of a cursed videotape die seven days after watching it. While the inevitable Hollywood remake in 2002 was better than it had any right to be, Nakata's original is as terrifying as horror films come. Toho 27/37 Rosemary's Baby (1968) Directed by : Roman Polanski

Released in 1968, Rosemary's Baby follows a pregnant woman who suspects that an evil cult want to take her baby for use in their rituals. Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon's performances tip this psychological chiller into classic status. Paramount Pictures 28/37 The Shining (1980) Directed by : Stanley Kubrick

Forget the iconic "H re's Johnny" or that bath scene – it's the smaller moments that make Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining a terrifying watch, notably the trippy final act that sees Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) lose his mind to the Overlook Hotel. Warner Bros 29/37 Sinister (2012) Directed by : Scott Derrickson

Of all the Blumhouse horror films, 2012 release Sinister – which features the demonic character Bughuul – is the spookiest of them all. It stars Ethan Hawke as a true-crime writer who discovers a box of home movies depicting grisly murders in the attic of his new house. Momentum Pictures 30/37 Sleep Tight (2011) Directed by : Jaume Balagueró

This little-seen Spanish horror follows a concierge who, believing he was born without the ability to feel happiness, decides to make life hell for everyone around him. Filmax 31/37 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Directed by : Tobe Hooper

The fictional Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), marketed as a true story, follows a group of cannibals – including Leatherface – who relentlessly hunt down a group of friends. Vortex 32/37 28 Days Later (2002) Directed by : Danny Boyle

Many might not reflect upon 28 Days Later (2002) as one of the world's scariest horror films, but its desolate depiction of a viral outbreak seems more real than any other. When merged with the fast-paced infected and the usage of John Murphy's song "In the House – In A Heartbeat", it's hard to deny it such status. Fox Searchlight Pictures 33/37 V/H/S (2012) Directed by : Various

Directed by six filmmakers, including Adam Wingard and Ti West, 2012 anthology film V/H/S is grimy horror of the tallest order. Look no further than David Bruckner's section "Amateur Night" following three friends who meet a mysterious girl who says nothing other than three small words: "I like you." Magnet Releasing 34/37 The Wailing (2016) Directed by : Na Hong-jin

Twist-filled horror drama The Wailing follows a policeman who investigates a series of mysterious killings and illness in the mountains of South Korea. If the journey fails to scare you, its destination will leave you lying awake at night. 20th Century Fox Korea 35/37 The Wicker Man (1973) Directed by : Robin Hardy

The Wicker Man is deemed the best British horror film of all time for a reason. It tells the story of a Police Sergeant who travels to an isolated island in search of a missing girl, only to find its inhabitants practising a form of Celtic paganism. British Lion Films 36/37 The Witch (2015) Directed by : Robert Eggers

For the most part, it's not what you see in The Witch that terrifies, it's what you don't see. Eggers unsettlingly holds his camera a fraction too long in places as he retells the story of a Separatist family who encounter supernatural forces in the woods beyond their farm. A24 37/37 Zero Day (2003) Directed by : Ben Coccio

The horrors are all too real in Zero Day, a film inspired by the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. The majority of the film is portrayed through the video diaries of two students who are planning to attack their high school. Avatar Films 1/37 Funny Games (1997) Directed by : Michael Haneke

Funny Games places the horror in the familiar setting of home. It follows two young men who hold a family hostage and torture them with sadistic games. The result is far scarier than anything featuring ghosts, witches or demons. Concorde-Castle Rock/Turner 2/37 The Amityville Horror (1979) Directed by : Stuart Rosenberg

The Amityville Horror is based on the true story of the Lutzes, a family who were run out of their home after being terrorised by paranormal phenomena in 1975. Just one year before, Ronald DeFeo Jr shot and killed six members of his family in the same house. James Brolin and Margot Kidder lead this film, which became one of the biggest hits of 1979. American International Pictures 3/37 Audition (1999) Directed by : Takashi Miike

Japanese horror Audition (1999) follows a widower who meets a woman named Ayoma after staging auditions to meet a potential new partner. Soon, though, her dark past begins to surface, which equates to a pretty disturbing climax. Omega Project 4/37 The Blair Witch Project (1999) Directed by : Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sánchez

Although parodied to death, The Blair Witch Project popularised the found-footage format to terrifying degrees in 1999. People genuinely believed they were watching real clips of three student filmmakers being terrorised by a Maryland legend known as the Blair Witch. Artisan Entertainment 5/37 The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) Directed by : Robert Wiene

Black-and-white silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) is considered the quintessential work of German Expressionism, but also one of the scariest films in cinema history. It follows a hypnotist (Werner Krauss) who uses a somnambulist to commit murders, and Wiene's shadowed sets and striking visual style combines to unsettle the viewer in ways most filmmakers only dream of managing. Decla-Bioscop 6/37 Candyman (1992) Directed by : Bernard Rose

A contemporary classic of horror cinema, 1992 film Candyman – which spawned two sequels and has a Jordan Peele-produced remake in the works – follows a graduate student whose studies lead her to the legend of a ghost who appears when you say his name three times. TriStar Pictures 7/37 Cannibal Holocaust (1980) Directed by : Ruggero Deodato

Extreme enough to warrant a ban in Italy and Australia, Cannibal Holocaust (1980) was one of the first films to embrace the found-footage format – so much so that Deodato found himself charged with multiple counts of murder due to rumours that several of the film's death scenes were real. He was later cleared. United Artists Europa 8/37 The Descent (2005) Directed by : Neil Marshall

Released in 2005, The Descent follows six women who, upon exploring a cave, battle to survive against the creatures they find inside. It's these creatures that earn this British horror film's placement on this list. Pathé Distribution 9/37 The Exorcist (1973) Directed by : William Friedkin

One of the most controversial films of all time, The Exorcist – which tells the story of the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl named Regan (Linda Blair) – became the first horror to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars in 1974. Warner Bros 10/37 Halloween (1978) Directed by : John Carpenter

Sure, it may be dated, but John Carpenter's original Halloween film – released in 1978 – remains the daddy of all horrors. It re-defined the rule book and has been emulated in everything from Scream (1996) to Trick 'r Treat (2007). The tension, as babysitter Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) attempts to evade masked murderer Michael Myers, only heightens with every new watch. Compass International Pictures[ 11/37 Hereditary (2018) Directed by : Ari Aster

Proving that horror is a force to be reckoned with, Hereditary became independent distributor A24's highest-grossing film around the world upon its release in 2018. It tells the story of a family who find themselves haunted after the death of their secretive grandmother and features a final act that left many of its viewers with sleepless nights. A24 12/37 The House of the Devil (2009) Directed by : Ti West

The House of the Devil (2009) follows a student named Samantha who is hired to guard an isolated house with one rule: don't go upstairs. For most of the film's runtime, not much happens, which is what makes the action-packed final third so terrifying. Spoiler: she goes upstairs. MPI Media Group 13/37 The Innocents (1961) Directed by : Jack Clayton

Based upon Henry James' chiller The Turn of the Screw, the plot of 1961 psychological horror film The Innocents concerns a governess who watches over two children and comes to fear that their large estate is haunted by ghosts and that the youngsters are being possessed. 20th Century Fox 14/37 It (1986) Directed by : Tommy Lee Wallace

Forget the effects-laden remake – this version of It, released as a miniseries in 1986, is the most terrifying adaptation of Stephen King's beloved novel to date. It follows a shapeshifting demon who takes the form of a sadistic child-killing clown named Pennywise (Tim Curry). Lorimar Productions 15/37 Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) Directed by : Takashi Shimizu

Japanese horror maestro Takashi Shimizu – who also directed the pretty scary 2005 remake starring Sarah Michelle Gellar – balances mystery with horror in Ju-On: The Grudge, a story based in a cursed house in Tokyo. Lions Gate Films 16/37 Kill List (2011) Directed by : Ben Wheatley

To describe the horrors of Kill List is to ruin the film's surprises, but let's just say this: the final 20 minutes of Ben Wheatley's violent drama from 2011 features some of the most unsettling scenes in any film from this decade. Optimum Releasing 17/37 Lake Mungo (2008) Directed by : Joel Anderson

Taking the form of a mockumentary, the little-seen Australian drama Lake Mungo may have received a limited release in 2008, but its story of a family attempting to come to terms with the drowning of their daughter stays with viewers long after. Arclight Films 18/37 Martyrs (2008) Directed by : Pascal Laugier

The polarising 2008 film Martyrs, often associated with the New French Extremity movement, is the kind of horror that leaves you needing a shower once the credits roll. It follows a young woman's quest for revenge on the people who kidnapped and tormented her as a child. Anchor Bay Films 19/37 Night of the Living Dead (1968) Directed by : George A Romero

Younger viewers may be desensitised by the more extreme horror films to have been released in recent decades, but the scares featured in Romero's Night of the Living Dead – including the young girl zombie reveal – remain some of the most chilling committed to celluloid. Continental Distributing 20/37 Nosferatu (1922) Directed by : FW Murnau

Alongside Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920), the character of vampire Count Orlok in 1922 film Nosferatu – played by Mac Schreck – remains one of the most spine-tingling in cinema history. Film Arts Guild 21/37 The Orphanage (2007) Directed by : JA Bayona

Produced by Guillermo del Toro, this acclaimed 2007 chiller follows the disappearance of a young boy in an orphanage, which brings many of the building's terrifying secrets to the fore. Warner Bros Pictures de España 22/37 The Others (2001) Directed by : Alejandro Amenábar

The Others (2001) is a towering achievement for Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenábar who wrote, directed and scored this Nicole Kidman-fronted tale about a woman trying to protect her children from supernatural forces. It's perhaps the scariest 12-certificate film of all time. Warner Sogefilms 23/37 Paranormal Activity (2009) Directed by : Oren Peli

Could Paranormal Activity be the scariest film of all time? It's certainly one of them. Just when you thought found-footage had had its day, Oren Peli's small-budgeted festival favourite became one of 2009's biggest hits. Audiences lapped up the story of a couple who capture supernatural presences on a camera in their own home. Paramount Pictures[ 24/37 Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Directed by : Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman

Paranormal Activity 3 earns its place on this list for its final 10 minutes. Set 18 years prior to the events of the first two films, we see the cause of the curse that follows characters Katie and Kristi for the rest of their lives – and it's down to a coven of witches led by their grandmother. Paramount Pictures 25/37 [REC] (2007) Directed by : Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza

Played out in real-time, the claustrophobic Spanish horror film [REC] is one of the better examples of found-footage cinema. Released in 2007, it follows a reporter and her cameraman who follow firefighters to a Barcelona building and soon find themselves locked inside with its occupants who are displaying murderous behaviour. Filmax International 26/37 Ring (1998) Directed by : Hideo Nakata

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the story of Ring by now: viewers of a cursed videotape die seven days after watching it. While the inevitable Hollywood remake in 2002 was better than it had any right to be, Nakata's original is as terrifying as horror films come. Toho 27/37 Rosemary's Baby (1968) Directed by : Roman Polanski

Released in 1968, Rosemary's Baby follows a pregnant woman who suspects that an evil cult want to take her baby for use in their rituals. Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes and Ruth Gordon's performances tip this psychological chiller into classic status. Paramount Pictures 28/37 The Shining (1980) Directed by : Stanley Kubrick

Forget the iconic "H re's Johnny" or that bath scene – it's the smaller moments that make Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining a terrifying watch, notably the trippy final act that sees Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) lose his mind to the Overlook Hotel. Warner Bros 29/37 Sinister (2012) Directed by : Scott Derrickson

Of all the Blumhouse horror films, 2012 release Sinister – which features the demonic character Bughuul – is the spookiest of them all. It stars Ethan Hawke as a true-crime writer who discovers a box of home movies depicting grisly murders in the attic of his new house. Momentum Pictures 30/37 Sleep Tight (2011) Directed by : Jaume Balagueró

This little-seen Spanish horror follows a concierge who, believing he was born without the ability to feel happiness, decides to make life hell for everyone around him. Filmax 31/37 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Directed by : Tobe Hooper

The fictional Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), marketed as a true story, follows a group of cannibals – including Leatherface – who relentlessly hunt down a group of friends. Vortex 32/37 28 Days Later (2002) Directed by : Danny Boyle

Many might not reflect upon 28 Days Later (2002) as one of the world's scariest horror films, but its desolate depiction of a viral outbreak seems more real than any other. When merged with the fast-paced infected and the usage of John Murphy's song "In the House – In A Heartbeat", it's hard to deny it such status. Fox Searchlight Pictures 33/37 V/H/S (2012) Directed by : Various

Directed by six filmmakers, including Adam Wingard and Ti West, 2012 anthology film V/H/S is grimy horror of the tallest order. Look no further than David Bruckner's section "Amateur Night" following three friends who meet a mysterious girl who says nothing other than three small words: "I like you." Magnet Releasing 34/37 The Wailing (2016) Directed by : Na Hong-jin

Twist-filled horror drama The Wailing follows a policeman who investigates a series of mysterious killings and illness in the mountains of South Korea. If the journey fails to scare you, its destination will leave you lying awake at night. 20th Century Fox Korea 35/37 The Wicker Man (1973) Directed by : Robin Hardy

The Wicker Man is deemed the best British horror film of all time for a reason. It tells the story of a Police Sergeant who travels to an isolated island in search of a missing girl, only to find its inhabitants practising a form of Celtic paganism. British Lion Films 36/37 The Witch (2015) Directed by : Robert Eggers

For the most part, it's not what you see in The Witch that terrifies, it's what you don't see. Eggers unsettlingly holds his camera a fraction too long in places as he retells the story of a Separatist family who encounter supernatural forces in the woods beyond their farm. A24 37/37 Zero Day (2003) Directed by : Ben Coccio

The horrors are all too real in Zero Day, a film inspired by the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. The majority of the film is portrayed through the video diaries of two students who are planning to attack their high school. Avatar Films

As he did in Hereditary , Aster puts much of his emphasis on singular, shocking images. He lets the camera creep closer and closer until we become consumed by what see before us. Sometimes we’re watching the action unfold in the reflection of a mirror, like we’re watching our own selves. But we’re also constantly tripped up by a false sense of tranquillity. The film, which stretches to nearly two and a half hours, is in absolutely no rush to reach its horrifying conclusion. That might leave some impatiently looking at their watches, wondering when the heads will finally start to roll, but it also allows you to feel at home with the characters’ own uncertainty about the situation. The Hårga treat every act – whether horrifying or not – as just an ordinary part of their lives, which makes Christian and his friends initially unwilling to turn tail and run, since they’re so concerned about seeming disrespectful to their welcoming hosts. The sun barely sets during the summer in northern Sweden, meaning the vast majority of scenes take place in bright daylight. Cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski surrounds us in the superficial comforts of blue skies, fertile greenery, and the crisp white tunics of the Hårga. Henrik Svensson’s production design equally avoids the overtly sinister, with the commune’s wooden buildings lovingly hand-painted with simple patterns and scenes of old, folksy practices. It’s only when you look closer that you realise these images are actually a warning of what lies ahead.