The gloaming is setting in, it’s dark and misty outside, and you have curled up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and some snacks. What better way to pass the evening than with a good old-fashioned horror movie?
And what better movie to choose than Midsommar, the horror movie that became an instant classic when it was launched back in 2019?
When Dani, played by Florence Pugh (Hawkeye, Don’t Worry Darling) and Christian, who is portrayed by Jack Reynor (The Peripheral, Strange Angel) travel to Sweden to take part in the famous Midsommar festival, it is more than their relationship that is on the line.
Their carefree summer holiday quickly becomes a nightmare as the insular locals invite them to participate fully in the festivities!
Midsommar was described by one critic as a “terrifically juicy, apocalyptic cinematic sacrament that dances around a fruitless relationship in dizzying circles”.
It proved to be a big hit with audiences and is already a firm cult classic. So, if you are on the lookout for something similar, here is a rundown of the top 15 hair-raising movies like Midsommar.
The Wicker Man
Surely the biggest single inspiration for Midsommar, the Wicker Man is a bizarre folk horror movie that sees devout Christian police officer Sergeant Howie, played by Edward Woodward (Who Dares Wins, Hot Fuzz), travels to the Scottish island of Summerisle to investigate a missing girl.
His experiences with the strange local community, who he feels are hampering his investigation, prove absolutely right, when he learns the brutal truth about their pagan beliefs.
The Wicker Man was remade in 2006, but the original movie is a far superior movie and has all the qualities that Midsommar offers and more.
If suspense is your thing, then no movie offers it in greater abundance than Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror flick, The Shining.
Based on the Stephen King story, it tells the tale of Jack Torrence, played by Jack Nicholson (One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chinatown), who takes his wife played by Shelley Duvall (Time Bandits, Frankenweenie) and son to be caretaker over the winter at the Overlook Hotel while he tries to finish his novel.
But the hotel slowly poisons his mind, driving him mad, while his son Danny, played by a young Danny Lloyd (Room 237, Doctor Sleep), who is psychic, sees strange visions.
There has never been a more unsettling movie made, and even some of the cast never fully recovered. A cast-iron classic.
Children of the Corn
Bringing together the very best of Stephen King’s horror writing and the pagan suspense of The Wicker Man (and Midsummar), Children of the Corn tells the story of Burt Stanton, played by Peter Horton (Thirtysomething) and Vicky Baxter, portrayed by Linda Hamilton (The Terminator franchise) as a young couple on a road trip who end up stuck in a small town in rural Nebraska.
Having witnessed a murder, they end up trapped by a cult of children who believe that everyone over the age of 18 must be sacrificed to an entity that lives in the corn fields.
The film is a little of its era, and its reputation was tarnished somewhat by some pretty awful sequels, but the original movie is definitely worth watching for fans of Midsummar.
The Blair Witch Project
A novel horror movie on its launch in 1999, where it was initially sold as being a documentary movie, The Blair Witch Project created the ‘found-footage’ genre and reinvigorated the budget horror genre for a whole new generation.
It starred Heather Donahue (Taken), Michael Williams (Law and Order), and Joshua Leonard (The Shaggy Dog, The Town That Dreaded Sundown), who were all completely unknown actors at the time, as three college film students who head into the woods to investigate the legend of a local witch.
The premise is that they are never heard of again, and the shaky camera footage makes for a hugely intense and powerful movie packed with suspense and shocking moments that will have all Midsummar fans on the edge of their seat.
The legendary film critic Roger Ebert described The Blair Witch Project as “an extraordinarily effective horror film”. Need we say more?
M. Night Shyamalan does suspense better than almost every other movie director out there, and his movie, The Village, which is set in an isolated community in the woods, is one of his best and has echoes of Midsummar in its setting and its plot.
The premise is that the villagers have a pact with the creatures in the woods that they will leave each other alone, but when a villager innocently enters the woods, the pact is broken, and all hell ensues.
With Shyamalan at his peak, there is an all-star cast featuring Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters, Alien), William Hurt (Black Widow, AI – Artificial Intelligence), Joaquin Phoenix (Joker, Walk the Line), Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World, The Mandalorian), Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges, Into the Storm), and Adrien Brody (The Pianist, The Grand Budapest Hotel).
The film deals with many of the same issues as Midsummar and has a classic Shyamalan twist at the end.
The Descent is a perfect example of claustrophobic horror at its very best.
It tells the story of a group of girls who go underground on a caving expedition. But they find themselves trapped by a cave-in and then attacked by mysterious underground predators.
The Descent stars Shauna Macdonald (Mutant Chronicles, Spooks) Natalie Mendoza (Hotel Babylon), MyAnna Buring (The Twilight franchise, The Witcher), and Saskia Mulder (The Beach), a low-key British cast but all of whom put in superb performances.
With plenty of horror and gore, plus the twist of Macdonald’s character having survived a car crash that killed her family one year previously, there is plenty of drama and suspense in this low-budget horror film.
This 2017 British horror film is enswathed in Swedish folk mythology, just like Midsommar.
It tells the tale of four British male friends who go on a hiking holiday in Sweden to remember a friend who died six months earlier in an off-license robbery gone wrong.
When one of the group sprains his ankle, they leave the path and take a short cut through the woods. A dramatic ordeal ensues, which involves the characters dealing with their past problems as well as their current predicament.
Starring Rafe Spall (Pete vs. Life, Life of Pi), Arsher Ali (The Dig, The Flood), Robert James-Collier (Downton Abbey, Coronation Street), and Sam Troughton (Alien vs Predator, Chernobyl), this is low-budget suspense at its best, and the Swedish settings will appeal to Midsommar fans too.
Another film built around the concept of a vacation gone wrong, Us is focused on the Wilson family on a vacation to Santa Cruz.
Adelaide Wilson, played brilliantly by Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Black Panther), had a bad experience there when she was a child. She opens up to her husband when her son tells her there is a family on their drive.
They are doppelgangers intent on hunting them, and the family must escape. There is masses of drama, suspense, and no lack of twists along the way.
Nyong’o is supported by Winston Duke (Black Panther, Avengers), Elisabeth Moss (The West Wing, The Handmaid’s Tale) and Tim Heidecker (Bridesmaids, Ant Man and the Wasp), but she is the stand-out performer in this excellent film.
Vivarium drifts into the sci-fi genre a little but still keeps plenty of the claustrophobic suspense of Midsommar.
A young couple, Gemma, played by Imogen Poots (The Look of Love, The Father) and Tom, who is portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), are looking for a house to buy and meet up with a real estate agent.
He takes them to an extremely uniform suburb called Yonder, shows them house number 9 and then disappears. Gemma and Tom try to leave but find they cannot either in their car or by foot.
Things take a significant downward turn from there, and the sense of being trapped in a home is pertinent, given the last couple of years. Powerful and unnerving in equal measure.
The Lighthouse is a powerful two-hander about two nineteenth-century lighthouse keepers trapped after a storm.
It is a study of the madness of isolation, with Thomas Wake, played incredibly by Willem Dafoe (Murder on the Orient Express, The Grand Budapest Hotel), as a lighthouse keeper and Ephraim Winslow, portrayed by Robert Pattinson (Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga franchise) as a contract worker.
Wake quickly becomes abusive, and the two men drink heavily and don’t get on. Wake appears mad, and Winslow quickly starts hallucinating too.
The performances are spellbinding, and the storyline defies all conventions. But this is a powerful and deeply disturbing film which fans of Midsommar are bound to love.
When Richard Hall, played by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, The Stranger), tells his estranged wife he plays to remarry, she commits suicide.
A few months later, he takes his kids and his fiancé to the family cabin in the woods for Christmas and to help them bond. They don’t, and the fact that she was the sole survivor of a doomsday cult definitely doesn’t help.
What follows when Richard has to leave for work is a series of strange and terrifying events that push Grace, played by Riley Keogh (War Pony, The House that Jack Built), to the edge.
With great turns from Alicia Silverstone (Blast from the Past, Batman and Robin) and young actors Jaeden Martell (It, Knives Out) and Lia McHugh (Eternals, Into the Dark), The Lodge deals with isolation and grief in a powerful and deeply troubling way.
A classic from director Roman Polanski, Rosemary’s Baby, follows Rosemary, played by Mia Farrow (The Great Gatsby, Death on the Nile) and Guy, played by John Cassavetes (A Woman Under the Influence, Mickey and Nicky), as a young couple moving into an apartment block.
There are odd neighbours and rumours of witchcraft, but when Rosemary becomes pregnant, she becomes paranoid that there is a satanic cult that wants to use her baby for their rituals.
She unravels, but what really is going on in this apartment block? This is psychological horror at its absolute best and is widely regarded as one of the best horror films ever.
In Suspiria, an American dancer, Suzy Bannion, played by Jessica Harper (Pennies from Heaven, Shock Treatment) arrives in Germany on a stormy night to attend dance school but quickly becomes unnerved by strange events there.
There are infestations of maggots and a growing number of strange deaths before her best friend Sara, played by Stefania Casini (Andy Warhol’s Bad, Bye Bye Monkey), disappears.
She fears witchcraft but can she prove it, and can she escape with her life? This classic Italian horror flick is visually beautiful and profoundly disturbing, with a powerful rock-driven soundtrack.
The Skeleton Key
A nurse at a New Orleans hospice, Caroline Ellis, played by Kate Hudson (You, Me, and Dupree, Glee), goes to Terrebonne Parish to care for an elderly man, played by John Hurt (A Man for All Seasons, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy).
He lives in an area where Hoodoo, a folk magic brought by slaves, is still practised. Caroline doesn’t believe in it all, but strange occurrences start to make her question her beliefs.
Cue magic and mayhem aplenty as the protagonist tries to get to grips with things she simply does not understand.
The Blood on Satan’s Claw
If any movie inspired Midsommar as much as The Wicker Man, it is The Blood on Satan’s Claw, which is set in 17th-century England and tells the story of events that follow the discovery of remains in a ploughed field.
Some local teenagers start behaving strangely and end up killing their classmate before leading his sister to an abandoned church to take part in a ritual.
The rituals are scary but so too is the mob that challenges them because of their own religious beliefs. This is proper folk horror set in a small rural community and has everything that Midsommar fans will love.