10 Irish Horror Movies for St. Patrick’s Day Chills

10 Irish Horror Movies for St. Patrick’s Day Chills

Boys From County Hell
Image: Shudder

It’s St. Patrick’s Day—the holiday where everyone gathers around to drink beer and watch scary movies! OK, we might have added that second part ourselves, but it’s only because we’ve assembled this list of 10 Irish and Irish-made horror movies to add some spooky flair to the usual boozy festivities. And there’s not a Leprechaun among them!

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The Hole in the Ground (2019)

The Hole in the Ground (2019)

Image: Lionsgate

The spooky-kid subgenre gets a geological refresh in director and co-writer Lee Cronin’s tale of young mother Sarah (Séana Kerslake), who’s recently left her (abusive, it’s implied) husband to start life anew with her son, Chris (James Quinn Markey). Their new home backs up against a vast forest that’s straight out of fairy-tale nightmares, not the least because it’s home to a sinkhole so giant and menacing it can only be powered by evil. When Chris starts acting very off, Sarah—who’s already spooked thanks to an eccentric neighbor who out of nowhere insists “That’s not your son!”—fears the worst. The Hole in the Ground doesn’t go anywhere terribly unfamiliar with its plot, but the landscape is eerie nature at its finest, and Kerslake is compelling as a woman forced to face an unthinkably horrific truth.

The Hallow (2015)

Unfriendly neighbors (including one played by Michael McElhatton, aka Game of Thrones’ Roose Bolton), the discovery of a most unusual fungus, and local folklore that claims supernatural creatures lurk among the trees greet a British biologist (Joseph Mawle, aka Game of Thrones’ Benjen Stark) and his family when they arrive in rural Ireland. Talk of banshees and fairies is especially difficult for a scientist to swallow, but it soon becomes clear whatever’s targeting the family is decidedly otherworldly—not to mention full of furious vengeance. Corin Hardy (The Nun) directed and co-wrote this folk-horror/eco-horror/body-horror/creature-horror film that, taken together with the thematically similar The Hole in the Ground, offers compelling evidence that wandering around haunted Irish forests is highly unwise.

Citadel (2012)

Citadel is actually set in Glasgow, Scotland, but we’re including it here because writer-director Ciarán Foy (Sinister 2) is Irish—and also, this movie will haunt you. After his pregnant wife is viciously attacked by a gang of youths, agoraphobic Tommy (Aneurin Barnard) must raise their daughter alone, a situation that gets worse when she dies of her injuries, and then even worse when he realizes the gang is now stalking his infant child. Oh, and even worse? The gang is not entirely human. Wunmi Mosaku (Loki, Lovecraft Country) co-stars as a sympathetic nurse in this unsettling tale, which skillfully digs into urban paranoia while telling a story that wavers between an unbelievably dystopian nightmare and the sense that maybe, somehow, this could actually happen.

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Boys From County Hell (2020)

Boys From County Hell (2020)

Welcome to Six Mile Hill, a small Irish village whose distinguishing characteristic is that its homegrown vampire legend just might have inspired Bram Stoker to pen Dracula. As this entertaining and gory entry from writter-director Chris Baugh explores, sometimes “legends” are real, and when that happens, it’s up to the toughest (and luckiest) community members to fight back. Or bite back, as the case may be. Read our full review of Boys From County Hell here.

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The Devil’s Doorway (2018)

The Devil’s Doorway (2018)

In this found-footage film from director and co-writer Aislinn Clarke, a pair of priests in 1960 Ireland visit one of the notorious “Magdalene laundries”—where unwed mothers and other so-called “fallen women” toiled under the watchful eyes of nuns who were basically prison guards—in the hopes of capturing the “first miracle caught on film.” But the statue said to be shedding bloody tears becomes far less interesting once the priests realize the facility is harboring not just cruelty and harsh conditions, but also something decidedly demonic. Found-footage horror has been done to death at this point, and there’s plenty of shaky camerawork on display here, but The Devil’s Doorway does effectively leverage a setting that would already be disturbing even without the sense that something Satanic is happening around its fringes.

Rawhead Rex (1986)

An American (David Dukes) researching religious artifacts in Ireland just happens to time his visit (with his over-it wife and bratty kids) with the sudden arrival—in exploding-from-the-ground-during-a-thunderstorm form—of the title creature, a hulking, howling, fang-faced monstrosity who soon begins wreaking violent havoc across the countryside. Hellraiser’s Clive Barker wrote the script based on his short story, which should instantly let you know what to expect if you have yet to witness this gory cult classic.

The Cured (2017)

This Ireland-set zombie movie from writer-director David Freyne imagines that after a virus transforms a good chunk of the population into rage-filled, homicidal monsters, a medical remedy is discovered. The catch is that it doesn’t work on everybody, making for a very tense clash between never-infected humans, who’d be vulnerable in case of another outbreak; the “Cured,” who’re viewed with suspicion but presumably immune from ever being zombies again; and the “Resistant,” the small population of infected who didn’t respond to the cure and could spark another zombie plague, should they ever escape from government captivity. The Umbrella Academy’s Elliot Page leads a strong ensemble cast in a thought-provoking film that proves there’s still an original way to approach the zombie genre. Read our full review of The Cured here.

The Canal (2014)

In Dublin, film archivist David (Charmed’s Rupert Evans) deals with the one-two punch of finding out his wife is cheating on him… swiftly followed by her mysterious death. Could it be tied to the fact that their family home—glimpsed in eerie vintage footage unearthed by David’s co-worker—was the the epicenter of a series of killings 100 years prior? (Ben Wheatley fans will note that Steve Oram, star and co-writer of Sightseers, plays a detective who zeroes in on David as a person of interest.) Writer-director Ivan Kavanagh’s film is a blend of murder mystery, ghost story, and study of a man who’s slowly but surely unraveling, all lurching forward under a cloud of doom.

A Dark Song (2016)

Another one for Steve Oram fans! From Irish-Welsh writer-director Liam Gavin, A Dark Song follows the bitter Sophia (Catherine Walker) as she convinces a sardonic occultist (Oram) to move into an isolated old mansion with her and conduct a grueling, months-long ritual that’ll allow her to contact her murdered young son. Lovely production values (the cinematography and musical score are particularly noteworthy) couch a story that ventures into some impressively dark (and weird) places, further elevated by two utterly gripping lead performances.

Sea Fever

Writer-director Neasa Hardiman’s sci-fi horror film pulls influences from Alien and the ongoing covid-19 pandemic in its story of a brilliant but awkward doctoral candidate (Hermoine Corfield), who joins the crew of a fishing boat—the mythologically monikered Niamh Cinn Óir—to conduct field research. Ominous signs begin to appear at the start (for one thing, the student’s red hair is taken as immediate bad luck), and things only get worse when something alarmingly contagious finds its way aboard. Suspenseful and expertly paced, Sea Fever also boasts an outstanding cast; Corfield holds the film’s center with her character’s brains and bravery, with supporting characters played by Connie Nielsen (Wonder Woman), Dougray Scott (Batwoman), Olwen Fouéré (Netflix’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre), and others. Read our full review here.

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Author: admin