Lee Cronin’s feature debut The Hole in the Ground, which premiered at Sundance Festival in 2019, marks a recent resurgence in Irish folk-horror set in remote parts of the countryside (The Lodgers, Beyond the Woods). Despite its wider setting of an ominous and dark forest, home to an ever-shifting sinkhole which pays homage to the off-the-beaten-track caverns of The Descent (2005) and the claustrophobic woodlands of The Blair Witch Project (1999), the film’s most horrifying and violent moments are intensely domestic.
The term “horror film” really wasn’t in popular usage until 1931, when Variety described Universal’s Dracula and Frankenstein as part of a “horror cycle.” But, the roots of the horror genre go much deeper, all the way to the first years of projected moving pictures. The pre-history of horror is fascinating and filled with various uses of ghosts, witches, and things that creep around in the night. There are dozens of early horrific films still available for viewing and I encourage everyone to go find some of the more obscure films. Below are my pick of some of the most interesting and influential films of the silent era that are still available for viewing.