Since Hansel, Gretel, and Little Red Riding Hood set off into the dark forest in Grimms’ Fairy Tales, woods have been popular and highly effective settings for scary stories. The way leaves can block out sunlight, the ease with which characters can get lost, and the idea that there is something terrifying lurking deep within the trees have helped create some seriously spooky horror movies over the years.
Of course, woodland-based horror can take many forms. Some movies play on the fear of being utterly lost, unable to find the way out of the woods and reach more populated areas. Other films set outsiders against scary people–or more supernatural beings–that live in the forest and don’t take kindly to intruders. And some movies simply use the woods as an atmospheric backdrop to their tales of terror.
It’s October now, and for many horror fans, that means a month full of scary movies. And, of course, fall is also a season where the nights draw in, and the leaves fall from the trees, making woodland horror an especially compelling choice to check out in the build-up to Halloween. So we’ve gathered together some of the scariest horror movies set in the woods.
There are many I could have chosen for this, including Cabin in the Woods (of course), Texas Chainsaw, House of 1000 Corpses…But I went old school and choose one of the first horror movies I can remember watching in the theater, Evil Dead (1981).
The woods in Sam Raimi’s amazing debut The Evil Dead and its even-better sequel/remake are as much a scary threat as the ancient undead demons conjured up by Bruce Campbell’s hapless Ash and his friends. Raimi whizzes his camera through the trees, as the forest comes malevolently alive around its victims.