When every glance at the news these days reinforces that the nightmare that is real life has only just begun, the prospect of being sacrificed in a pagan ritual begins to look like a relative comfort. With that in mind, the Irish Film Institute is offering some escapism in the coming weeks with an exciting programme of folk horror films running until the 30th of July.
It’s an interesting subset of horror, placing moody atmospheres and old superstitions ahead of gore and jump scares. This past weekend saw screenings of all-time classic The Wicker Man (with a note of added poignancy following the recent death of director Robin Hardy), Witchfinder General and Quartermass and the Pit. Here’s a look at what else is on offer at the IFI Season of Folk Horror:
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
This surreal Czeckoslovakian film sees teen Valerie, who’s blossoming into womanhood takes a strange turn after she dons a pair of magic earrings. Now her life is a disorienting blur of fantasy and reality, as she is cajoled by vampires, priests, men and women alike. (Wednesday 20th July, 18.30)
Blood on Satan’s Claw
Set in 17th century England, this film sees the local young people of a small village begin to act very strangely after an unusual corpse is dug up nearby. They begin a series of satanic rituals in order to have the chats with the devil. (Saturday 23rd July, 20.30)
The Devil Rides Out
Christopher Lee gets a taste of his own occult medicine playing upper class gentleman Duc de Richeleu. Along with his associate Rex van Ryn, he’s invited to an upscale party hosted by his young protégé, which turns out actually to be a gathering of a Satanic cult, looking to initiate a new member, the beautiful Tanith. (Sunday 24th July, 14.00)
Night of the Demon
American professor John Holden arrives in London for a lecture on parapsychology, only to find his colleague has died in a mysterious accident. The deceased had been investigating a group led by devil worshipper Dr. Julian Kaswell. Though sceptical, Holden picks up the trail and is dragged into a world of ancient runes, séances and demons. (Wednesday 27th July, 18.30)
The Blair Witch Project
The Folk Horror season concludes with the word-of-mouth sensation of the late 90s. You know the story, three film students wander into the woods making a documentary about local legend the Blair Witch. They were never found again, but their footage was… (Sunday 30th 20.30)
You can check out the programme in full and make your bookings here.