I love horror movies and thrillers set in winter. In some of the best, the winter weather can act as a second antagonist, trapping the hero of the movie. In others, it offers up gorgeous cinematography to serve as a poetic back drop for the story to unfold in. Below are some of my favorites, I’d love to hear about yours.
The Cohen brothers set their thriller/black comedy in Minnesota during the late 80s, and use the expanse of long roads and barren, snowy landscapes in between cities and towns to their advantage. I’ve never seen headlights used as a plot device so well.
Unlike the rest of the movies on this list, much of Insomnia’s atmosphere relies on the perpetual daylight of summer in Alaska. It haunts Al Pacino’s weary detective relents as he hunts an unsettlingly friendly suspected serial killer.
Based on the classic horror novel by Stephen King, the remote Overlook hotel that provides the setting for the film has an interesting duality. It is both a sanctuary for the Torrence family, and also a snow encased trap driving them into madness.
30 Days of Night
Originally a graphic novel and also set in Alaska, this movie takes advantage of the total darkness of Alaska’s winter. I love that, unlike many other vampire films, the bloodsuckers in 30 Days of Night are not good looking or glamorized. They are hideous and terrifying.
Let the Right One In
Out of the two versions of this film, I prefer the Swedish original. I love the long, quiet takes, the gorgeous visuals, and the way it tackles filming the gruesome violence of its main subject.