The cruel and brutal outdoors have always been something of a horror staple, but just what is it that gets our arboreal adrenaline flowing? Tense new British horror In Fear sees a young couple set off for an idyllic weekend in the countryside, only to find themselves thoroughly tormented by a labyrinth of country roads, sinister forests, and a fear of the unknown. Here’s a rundown of some of the best in the genre – don’t forget to leave a trail of breadcrumbs!
The Evil Dead/Evil Dead II
Sam Raimi’s original cabin in the woods introduced us to Bruce Campbell and one of horror’s greatest ever heroes in Ash Williams, and it also taught us to never recite any incantations from anything resembling a Book of the Dead. Demons and spirits are unleashed in the woods surrounding the cabin, and in this case they even demonically possesses the trees themselves. A demonically possessed wood has to be the very worst kind to find yourself trapped in, and Ash had the unique misfortune of being trapped in the same demonically possessed wood twice. That’s anything but groovy.
The Blair Witch Project
Launching a thousand imitators and parodies almost overnight, The Blair Witch Project made the woods all the more terrifying by presenting the events in the film as if they were real. The “found footage” shows three filmmaking students – Heather, Michael and Joshua – head into the woods to shoot a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch – an 18th Century woman hung for witchcraft whose spirit is said to have returned and forced a series of ritualistic murders. When things start to go bump in the night, the trio begin to realise that they’re not alone in the woods, nor can they find their way back out again. Gulp.
It’s not just evil spirits and supernatural forces that have to be feared in the woods… it’s the people who live in the woods too. Four Atlanta men decide to head off into the wilderness and canoe down a river in Deliverance, but things don’t go to plan when they encounter the locals. Inbred hillbillies terrorise the men, and out in the woods they fear there’s no one to turn to for help because the police are likely either friends or relatives of their attackers. And the men then find out the hard way that when you’re in the middle of nowhere, there’s a long way to go before you can get to safety.
Friday the 13th
When a lakeside camp in the middle of the woods is closed down because an unseen assailant stalked and killed two camp counselors, it might be tempting fate to returning there and reopen the camp years later. Friday the 13th appropriately sees that unseen assailant return to pick off the new camp counselors in the woods. But it’s not the iconic, hockey mask clad Jason Voorhees who’s not behind the killings, it’s his mother Pamela. She’s been driven mad by the death of her son and doesn’t stop killing until she’s unceremoniously decapitated. So is it safe to go back in the woods after that? Sure, as long as you’re not worried about a resurrected Jason and his machete.
The Cabin in the Woods
What Scream did for slasher movies, The Cabin in the Woods does for cabin horror films. Five friends head to a remote cabin and accidentally unleash an evil force that won’t stop until it’s killed them all… stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Except, nothing’s quite as it seems. The woods are being artificially controlled and manipulated by a group of technicians who are essentially creating their own ‘horror in the woods’ parody movie as a ritual to keep a greater evil at bay. Gleefully deconstructing the entire genre, this is a must-watch, but also a must-watch last. You won’t be able to look at a cabin in the woods the same way again.
Let us know what your favourite woodland scary movies are via the hashtag #sliceofparadise.
In Fear is in cinemas on November 15th 2013