For St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, Syfy is airing a marathon of the Leprechaun movies. But if you’re a horror fan who would prefer to see some films that actually reflect Irish culture, we’ve got you covered! We put our heads together and came up with a list of films produced in the Emerald Isle, produced by Irish filmmakers and (most often) starring Irish actors.
If you ask us, it’s a much more authentic way for horror lovers to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoying these films with a few pints of Guinness and a heaping plate of corned beef and cabbage is entirely optional! Give our list a look-see below and let us know if your favorite Irish horror movie made the list. Spoiler: You won’t find any leprechauns here!
The Lodgers (2018, Directed by Brian O’Malley)
One of the very first films released by Dread (formerly Dread Central Presents) was The Lodgers, an Irish ghost story that’s as lush and hypnotic as it is creepy and chilling. It’s a period piece, so it has the ability to transport viewers to another time period, as well as another part of the world. And here’s a fun bit of trivia: The Lodgers was filmed in one of Ireland’s most haunted houses, Loftus Hall. The film features a brother and sister who are bound to an isolated, crumbling estate by nebulous, supernatural forces.
The Cured (2018, Directed by David Freyne)
If you think the zombie subgenre of horror is all played out, think again. The Cured imagines the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse when a cure for the outbreak has been discovered. The end is only the beginning, though, for the once-infected who must own up to the atrocities they committed while zombified. Those who lost loved ones to zombie-violence must attempt to forgive those who once sought to devour them. The Cured also works as a metaphor for the current immigration crush in Ireland, as the “cured” are housed in vast, militarized refugee camps, subject to intense scrutiny and unabashed discrimination. The film stars Ellen Page as an American journalist who survived the outbreak and remained in Ireland to raise her son.
The Hallow (2015, Directed by Corin Hardy)
Before he became an international sensation for directing The Nun in 2018, Corin Hardy hit many horror fans’ radars by delivering an infinitely spine-tingling little creeper called The Hallow. It features a couple of city slickers who move to rural Ireland to conduct scientific research. But this husband and wife team sees their worldview shattered by the emergence of ages-old creatures who inhabit the woods surrounding them. It’s an excellent example of modern folk horror, one that can give even the most rational-minded among us the creeps.
Wake Wood (2009, Directed by David Keating)
Wake Wood marked Hammer Horror’s triumphant return after a decades-long hiatus. And while the seminal studio has yet to regain its past position of prominence, Wake Wood is a top-notch creeper and another incredible example of modern folk horror. It’s a resurrection story that might just be the perfect double feature with the upcoming Pet Sematary remake. Wake Wood has all of the subgenre’s most effective tropes: An isolated town, residents with a centuries-old secret, and ties to Pagan mythologies. Wake Wood is also a profound meditation on grief and healing, one that will resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one too soon.
The Hole in the Ground (2019, Directed by Lee Cronin)
From A24 (the studio that brought us The Witch, It Comes at Night, and Hereditary), The Hole in the Ground was just released on select VOD platforms in late February—and might just find its way onto many end-of-the-year Top 10 lists. Whereas The Babadook was a psychological horror about a son who was terrified of his mother, The Hole in the Ground flips the script with a mother convinced her son has become a monster. It’s a spin on centuries-old “changeling” mythology, not to mention a modern examination of “female hysteria” (complete with a nod to The Yellow Wallpaper), making it both folk horror and quintessentially gothic.
A Dark Song (2017, Directed by Liam Gavin)
A Dark Song was one of my favorite movies of 2017, despite being a bit of a challenge to watch. While magic is usually portrayed with wonder and spectacle, Liam Gavin revels in the science of conjuring: The rituals and reputations, the isolation and self-sacrifice, the pain, discomfort, and even the drudgery of attempting communication with otherworldly forces. But it’s this grueling exercise that makes the film’s climactic conclusion so arresting and profound; it’s shocking, satisfying, and cathartic. Like the best horror movies, A Dark Song is rife with subtext and works as a meditation on the futility of revenge and the healing power of forgiveness.
Grabbers (2012, Directed by Jon Wright)
If you’re in the mood for laughs as opposed to screams on St. Patrick’s Day, Grabbers is the horror comedy you’re looking for. When a small town on the coast of Ireland is invaded by tentacled, Lovecraftian creatures from the sea, the residents soon discover that getting drunk is the only way to survive. Of course it’s a preposterous premise, but Grabbers is more in the vein of Shawn of the Dead than Humanoids from the Deep. And don’t expect a b-movie; Grabbers has a great cast, genuine laughs, and dynamite creature effects. If you turn it into a drinking game by sipping a pint every time a character on screen takes a swig, you’ll have a killer buzz going before the end of Act 1!
The Canal (2014, Directed by Ivan Kavanagh)
The Canal made quite a splash in 2014 and, though it may have faded from popular consciousness, it remains a paragon of Irish horror. With supernatural and psychological elements, The Canal is part crime thriller and part descent into insanity. With several twists and a truly shocking third act, The Canal even incorporates elements of disparate genre offerings from The Ring to My Bloody Valentine. It’s a roller-coaster from start to finish; a film that keeps one foot firmly grounded in reality with fearlessly stepping into the abyss.
Shrooms (2007, Directed by Paddy Breathnach)
Shrooms is a straight-up slasher that American horror fans will have no problem connecting with; it’s also a movie with a message: When foraging the Irish countryside for psychedelic mushrooms, steer clear of the “death caps”! As with all horror films that utilize mind-altering substances as a plot motivator, you’ve got to question everything you see. But even if you guess the ending, you’ll have a blast watching the movie’s horny 20-somethings ducking and dodging a terrifying madman. There’s also a morality tale at play, one that cautions outsider to stay in their lanes when traveling far from home.
Byzantium (2012, Directed by Neil Jordan)
If you enjoyed the way Interview with the Vampire spanned multiple time-periods and geographical settings, you’ll love Byzantium which is (in my humble opinion) a far superior film. Based on the play by Moira Buffini (who also penned the script) Byzantium follows a mother-daughter vampire duo attempting to maintain the semblance of a normal life in an Irish resort town, all while avoiding detection by a patriarchal council of undead aristocrats. This is more than just another display of established vampire horror tropes; Byzantium is both a feminist rallying cry and a touching coming of age story that will resonate with horror fans of all ages.
If you’re a fan of Irish horror who’s already seen all the films on this list, Epic Pictures (Dread Central’s parent company) has a trio of films coming down the pike, all set in the Land of Shamrocks! We don’t have exact release dates yet, but we’ll keep you posted on the status of these upcoming Irish horror movies as news emerges.
Extra Ordinary (Directed by Mike Ahern)
Extra Ordinary just enjoyed its world premiere at SXSW last week, so expect distribution and release news in the not-too-distant future. It looks like an awesome horror comedy along the lines of What We Do in the Shadows. Check out the trailer and synopsis below.
Rose, a sweet, lonely driving instructor in rural Ireland, is gifted with supernatural abilities. Rose has a love/hate relationship with her “talents” and tries to ignore the constant spirit-related requests from locals – to exorcise possessed rubbish bins or haunted gravel. But! Christian Winter, a washed up, one-hit-wonder rock star, has made a pact with the devil for a return to greatness! He puts a spell on a local teenager- making her levitate. Her terrified father, Martin Martin, asks Rose to help save his daughter. Rose has to overcome the fear of her supernatural gift and work with Martin to save the girl, get the guy, and be home in time for a light snack… maybe a yogurt or something…
Extra Ordinary stars Maeve Higgins, Barry Ward, and Will Forte.
Sea Fever (Directed by Neasa Hardiman)
Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever won the inaugural Avanpost Digital Cube Post-Production Award at the Frontières Platform in the Marché in Cannes last May. Like Grabbers, Sea Fever will see horror emerging from the waters surrounding Ireland; unlike Grabbers, however, Sea Fever looks like a stone-cold creeper. It centers on a group of sailors marooned on a trawler; as if this scenario isn’t already fraught with existential horror the protagonists have to deal with parasitic invaders from the deep. Sea Fever stars Connie Nielsen, Hermione Corfield, and Dougray Scott.
The Winter Lake (Directed by Phil Sheerin)
Last month, Deadline got the exclusive on The Winter Lake, reporting:
Blackbird‘s Anson Boon, Peaky Blinders‘ Charlie Murphy, Game of Thrones‘ Michael McElhatton, and Sex Education‘s Emma Mackey and Mark McKenna have been cast in The Winter Lake, a new horror thriller from Epic Pictures and Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde’s Tailored Films, which previously teamed on the 2017 horror drama The Lodgers. Lodgers scribe David Turpin penned the script and Phil Sheerin (North) is directing.
If the team that brought us The Lodgers is behind The Winter Lake, consider me sold! The plot revolves around a teenager who makes a grim discovery while vacationing by a lake; this leads him to suspect his neighbors are harboring a sinister secret.
Did your favorite Irish horror movie make this list? What are some other films exported from the Emerald Isle that deserve a shout-out? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!