We’re back with more spooky shenanigans! That’s right, as we haven’t really been able to enjoy any holidays this year, we at The Nerdd are diving head first into Halloween- Home EditionTM. One of the fun parts of the season is watching all things that make you uncomfortable and squeamish; and as much as some people don’t enjoy it *cough, my husband, cough*, I very much do. Let’s hop in!
There are countless movies about cults, and they exist in our world at various capacities too. Not to be confused with cult classics (movies that initially weren’t popular but then gained a following later), cult horror films question who we think we are as humans existing in communities. Many will argue any religion is technically a cult, but others will draw the line saying it isn’t, but could be when things get… sinister. That is where these amazing movies come in. All of these stories could easily happen in our world (and some claim that they have), and that psychologically messes with you even more as you’re watching. Not all of these are necessarily religious, but have some level of intense admiration or devotion to a person, idea, or thing.
One of my favorites on this list, and the most recently made film (2019), Misdommar isn’t a classic yet- but will be in the coming years. The whole movie is… unsettling. It follows Dani as she goes through a traumatic event, then gets invited to Sweden for a midsummer festival which she desperately needs, as her psyche is all over. Of course, controlled chaos ensues, and the commune they are staying at starts getting into some unusual pagan traditions. The film is brilliant, and you feel just as trapped in Dani’s mind as she is. Unconventional as it is bizarre, throw away what you think a cult-folk horror film is and strap in, because you’ll need to see a therapist after the gut-wrenching finale.
Children of the Corn
Of course we had to have some Stephen King on here! Based on his short story written in 1977, Children of the Corn (1984), follows a couple driving through the dreaded Nebraska when they hit a child. Later you find out the town they end up in has no adults, and all these murderous children are part of a devious cult. Spooks and supernatural elements aside, the children in this film are unforgettable and absolutely terrifying. The film isn’t liked by critics, and the many sequels certainly don’t hold up to the test of time; but this movie is a staple in ’80s slasher/cult horror. You will never want to be in a cornfield again.
Get Out (2017) is technically under the guise of “social thriller” as the writer/director Jordan Peele is adding to a new sub-genre of horror, however I am still putting it on this list. The reason, all the people in this film that are villains are absolutely a cult. Not necessarily religious, and they don’t particularly have one supreme leader, but *spoiler* they only get together every now and again to take over an African-Americans body for their benefit! The film is difficult to watch not only for the horror elements, but the real-life applications of racism still existing in our modern world. You feel sick as you see these middle-class white Americans that are liberal (that you may normally identify with) objectify an entire culture. Uncanny, yet it still makes you chuckle throughout.
This phenomenal 1968 film truly set the tone for the next 50 years of cult horror. A carefully crafted slow burn, you keep questioning who could be behind all this like Rosemary does as she slowly falls apart physically and mentally. As she navigates moving to a new place and all the troubles already surrounding pregnancy as a whole, the crazy gets turned up to the max. The cast, the script, the filming, the shocking elements- are still good even for today’s standards. Rosemary’s Baby kicked off many Satanist-type cult films, but none compare to this classic. I would say more, but you’ve got to watch it for yourself!
ANOTHER Ari Aster film (Midsommar was his second film), Hereditary (2018) feels almost like a love letter to Rosemary’s Baby. You know, with Satanists, blood, and lots of death. With a typical horror film set-up, you think you know what you’re getting into, and then you are hit by a pole, figuratively (and literally). Starting with a family death and the aftermath of that with a possible haunting, you think the worst has happened with each scene. Putting the film on this list is almost a spoiler, as the story progresses you have no idea what is happening or why. As a fan of horror, it takes a lot for me to literally jump from my seat, and as much as this is a cult film, it is also terrifying.
The Wicker Man
A classic, The Wicker Man (1973), is one of the first folk-horror cult films and influenced half of the entries on this list (notably Midsommar). It didn’t initially receive that status upon release, and underwent some serious editing in the past few decades. The ritual human sacrifice part certainly will still give you the shivers thinking about it. Some regard this film as Christopher Lee’s best performance, and it’s hard not to seeing him as the commanding leader of a pagan cult. As a policeman goes to an isolated island to try and find a missing girl, unfortunately, he and the audience are sucked into traditions that can’t be undone.