predator revival prey is going gangbusters at the moment, being praised as the best entry in the series since the original. A prequel to the famous Sci-Fi/horror series, the setting has been moved to 1719 America. When a Predator lands on Earth looking for sport, it crosses paths with a young Comanche named Naru, who is trying to prove to her tribe she has the makings of a great warrior.
This change in time period has been one of the best-received elements of the film, and it calls to mind other movies that have applied a horror story to a historical setting. These settings allow creatives to make their own spooky stories with historical elements used for inspiration. It is much harder to escape a killer when you cannot simply use your mobile phone to call for help.
‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ (2006)
Guillermo del Toro‘s masterpiece, and the movie that put him on the map. Pan’s Labyrinth follows ten-year-old Ofelia who lives with her mother and evil stepfather in 1944, five years after the Spanish Civil War. While the aftereffects of the war are still felt around her, Ofelia finds herself drawn into a mystical world that exists parallel to our own.
In this world, Ofelia interacts with a variety of creatures. In classic del Toro fashion, the design of these monsters is unforgettable, with some being grotesque in the best way. The visual design, in general, remains some of the best in film, creating an adult fairytale that is as beautiful as any children’s story, albeit a lot darker. Pan’s Labyrinth is available to stream on Starz.
‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ (1992)
A contemporary retelling of the immortal tale, Bram Stoker’s Dracula finds the legendary vampire looking for love. Centuries after his soulmate committed suicide, a chance encounter causes Dracula (Gary Oldman) to believe his beloved has been reincarnated as Mina (Winona Ryder). Wanting to take the young woman for his bride, it falls to her fiancé Jonathan (Keanu Reeves) and vampire hunter Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) to save her soul.
Directed by Francis Ford Coppolathe film is visually dazzling as it shows a human side to the classic villain, bolstered by a fantastic performance from Oldman. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is available to stream on Paramount+.
‘Bone Tomahawk’ (2015)
A mashup of the western and horror genres, Bone Tomahawk is a grizzly journey through the Old West. After their town is raided by a group of Native Americans who flee with hostages, four men (Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Foxand Richard Jenkins) set out to rescue those who were taken.
It is revealed the perpetrated hail from a banished tribe, who have been shunned by others due to their cannibalistic and incestuous nature. a slow burn, Bone Tomahawk is ultraviolent as it piles on the gore, with one death, in particular, going down as one of the most brutal of the past decade. Bone Tomahawk is available to stream on Tubi.
‘From Hell’ (2001)
A fictional take on the Jack the Ripper murders, from hell, follows Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp), a London police inspector who is pursuing the murderer. Beginning in 1888, Jack slices through prostitutes as Abberline and his colleagues attempt to discover his identity before he claims more victims. Heather Graham also stars as Mary Kelly, a target of the Ripper.
An adaptation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore (watchmen, V for Vendetta), the film takes some liberties with historical accuracy but is nevertheless an entertaining thriller featuring one of the most infamous serial killers in history. From Hell is available to stream on HBO Max.
After breaking out with his two action masterpieces, The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2, Gareth Evans made this creepy folk horror film for Netflix. Learning that his sister has been abducted by a cult, Thomas (Dan Stevens) travels to their remote island to infiltrate the group and save her.
Beginning as a simple thriller, apostle delves more into supernatural horror as Thomas discovers more secrets about the island. Filled with creepy imagery and a bubbling sense of dread, the cult at the heart of the film engages in more and more deplorable behavior as it’s made clear there is no monster more wicked than man. apostle is available to stream on Netflix.
‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’ (2013)
An underrated and seemingly forgotten action-horror flick from 2013, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a treat for anyone who enjoyed prey‘s brutal and graphic violence. Charting a different destiny for the titular duo after their run-in with the wicked witch and her gingerbread house, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) have grown up to hunt down witches that plague villages across the countryside.
The siblings have a variety of gadgets and weapons at their disposal, wiping out their enemies in creative ways. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is nothing intellectual, but it is an enjoyable and violent retelling of the classic fairytale and a welcome addition to any beer and pizza night. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video and Paramount+.
‘Crimson Peak’ (2015)
Guillermo del Toro loves to deliver a period horror piece, and Crimson Peak is his tribute to the gothic romances of yesteryear. At the turn of the 20th century, young heiress Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) meets charming Englishman Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and promptly marries him.
Moving to her new husband’s remote mansion, Crimson Peak, Edith begins to experience ghostly hauntings in her new home. She tries to decipher these sinister messages, while also being tormented by Thomas’ sadistic sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Along the way, Edith will discover a terrifying secret about the house and her new family. The film remains del Toro’s most overlooked amongst his impressive filmography.
Crimson Peak is available to stream on Netflix.
‘The Witch’ (2015)
The debut of director Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse, The Northman), The Witch is the first display of the filmmaker’s dedication to authentic portrayals of historical life. Set in 1630 New England, the film follows a small family living on a remote farm, banished from the rest of their village.
It soon becomes clear that something evil is lurking in the nearby woods, tormenting the family with sinister events. Teenage daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor Joy) is first blamed for the occurrences and labeled a witch, but the young woman eventually discovers darker forces are at play. The Witch is available to stream on Showtime.
‘Sleepy Hollow’ (1999)
An adaptation of the classic tale, Sleepy Hollow follows police constable Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as he investigates a series of murders in the titular village. All the victims have been decapitated, causing the townspeople to believe the perpetrator to be the undead Headless Horseman, a local urban legend.
Directed by Tim Burton, the film contains his signature gothic atmosphere and dark humor. Basically a combination of a detective story and a slasher movie, Sleepy Hollow remains one of the popular director’s more underrated movies and one of his best collaborations with Depp. Sleepy Hollow is available to stream on Showtime.
‘Army of Darkness’ (1992)
The third entry in the highly influential Evil Dead series, Army of Darkness is a big departure from the horror leanings of the first two films. After slaying deadites at the infamous Knowby cabin, wisecracking hero Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) is sent back in time after being sucked into a newly opened portal.
Waking up in the Middle Ages, Ash must share his deadite killing ways with the local knights and villagers, as an undead army threatens to descend on their castle. Very campy but also very entertaining, Army of Darkness is one of the best examples of taking a pre-established horror film and moving it into a historical setting.
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