Horror Films To Enjoy During The Long Dark Winter Months

Halloween may be over but horror films are for the whole year and so here are a selection of horror films (or films with some horror elements) to enjoy during the long, dark winter months.

Vampires in Winter

Vampires enjoying their winter in Alaska //credit: 30 Days Of Night, Sony Pictures Releasing

There are places in the world where it gets really dark. 30 Days of Night is set in one such place, a town in northern Alaska where they have a thirty-day period of darkness every winter. Naturally, this is an appealing site for vampires and one year they descend upon the isolated town. There is a slow build of tension as people report phones being sabotaged and pets killed – to make the population more isolated and vulnerable – and then the vampires attack. There is a great scene of the initial attack, people dragged from their homes by vampires, people being chased down, it even includes an aerial shot showing the bloodbath from above. Frostbite has a similar premise but this time it’s a small town in Sweden. Frostbite has more comedic moments than 30 Days of Night and isn’t as good a film but it does have some great moments – such as the local police have detained a vampire in a cell but obviously have no understanding of what it is they’re dealing with and a simple questioning requires full riot gear.

Let The Right One In is another example of great winter horror and is an absolute masterpiece. Set in Sweden the story revolves around children Oskar and Eli, the latter we learn is a vampire, and while she looks like a child is very old. The film is very dark in every sense of the word with so much of it set at night – it turns out vampires quite like dark winter locations. As well as being genuinely horrific it is genuinely moving and one of the great horror films whatever time of year.

Winter In Space

Sam Vs Sam table tennis match underway //credit: Moon, Sony Pictures Classics
Sam Vs Sam table tennis match underway //credit: Moon, Sony Pictures Classics

Space can be a great parallel for winter. It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s simultaneously lonely but you’re stuck with people. One of the most underrated films ever made is Moon – Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell; who is left on a station on the moon conducting mining work with his only companion the station’s AI. Or so we think. Not long into the film Sam finds another person, someone in one of the automated vehicles, already this is weird as he believed he was the only person on the moon, but the person is his exact double.

It has been said before but Alien is a horror film set in space and if you’re looking for isolation and the idea that if you dare step outsides the confines of your home/spaceship you will need extensive protective outerwear to survive and may well not return then Alien is the film for you. In Alien outside is a dangerous place and it is where the horrors will come from, don’t go outside and don’t let those who do bring the cold back in with them.

There is a sci-fi film that mixes the isolation, cold and darkness of space with bright light and heat and this is Sunshine. The film follows a team of astronauts and scientists who have a mission to save the sun, so it is cold, it is dark and they are alone, but there is also the sun. One crew member has taken to staring at the sun through a protective screen, and even with the screen it is doing damage to his skin, but nonetheless, he is compelled to do it.

It’s Just Really Cold

Years later Kurt Russell would play Santa Claus // Credit: The Thing, Universal Pictures

The Thing is a classic horror in terms of isolation and the cold as a research team in Antarctica are attacked by a shapeshifting alien. The cold is a constant presence and limiting factor for the team, to leave their base to escape the alien is to invite hypothermia. After the grotesque special effects, some of the most memorable shots of the film are of Kurt Russell bundled in a huge coat with snow in his beard. One of the key elements at the end of the film is whether you can see the breath of the remaining characters because of the cold.

It’s impossible to not mention The Shining, not only one of the greatest films ever made but it has a lot of snow, and isolation is very much the point of it. Indeed some people think that there are no ghosts, that there is nothing supernatural going on and Jack is driven to insanity by the isolation. The family are more or less trapped in the snow-covered hotel, and when Dick Hallorann comes to rescue the family it becomes an arduous journey through the elements. It is a film that gets anyone thinking about how they would handle such an extended period of isolation. The hotel, even when it is the only Torrance family staying there, seems inviting and warm, it is bright and comfortable, contrasting with the ever-grimmer weather outside. And – spoiler alert ahead – it is the weather that actually saves Wendy and Danny with their father freezing to death.

Also Read: 10 Iconic Horror Movie Masks

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Richard Norton

Gentleman, podcaster and pop culture nerd, I love talking and writing about pretty much all pop culture.