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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

Psychological Terror to Folk Horror: Exploring Subgenres of A24 Horror

Updated: 5 days ago


Featured Image For Psychological Terror to Folk Horror: Exploring Subgenres of A24 Horror.  Movie poster for "The Witch" featuring the close-up of a goat's head with large, curving horns, embodying an ominous presence against a black background.
In the whispering woods, where old tales stir, beware the gaze that follows.

Folks, when we think of horror, we think of jump scares, gore splatters, and monsters lurking in the shadows. But the folks at A24, that little studio that could, they understand something deeper. True horror, modern horror, the stuff that lingers long after the screen fades to black, that ain't always about the boogeyman. Sometimes, it's about the darkness within ourselves, the cracks in the seemingly normal world. Let's take a tour of A24's twisted playground, where the scares come in all shapes and sizes.


Psychological Terror: When the Mind is the Monster

A24 knows that sometimes the scariest thing isn't what's out there, but what's in here taps temple. They've built a reputation for films that crawl under your skin, twisting reality just a smidge until you can't trust your own eyes and ears.


Take 'Hereditary', that 2018 mind-bender that messed up a whole generation of moviegoers. Ari Aster, he don't play fair. He takes a family spiraling towards grief and adds in an extra layer of...well, let's just say your average family drama this ain't. Toni Collette gives the performance of her life, descending into a madness you can't quite shake off.


Or how about 'The Lighthouse'? Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, trapped on a storm-swept rock, going bonkers with isolation and maybe a touch of something supernatural. It's shot in stark black-and-white, the sea roaring like some ancient beast. This one ain't just scary, it's downright unsettling, the kind of film that washes over you like icy seawater.


Movie poster for "Hereditary" with upper and lower parts of two faces overlapped, one adult and one child, in a dark tone with a cryptic symbol below them.
In the shadows of inheritance, the darkest legacies are the ones we carry within.

Folk Horror: Ancient Evils in the Modern World

A24 understands that fear has roots, buried deep in the old tales, the rituals passed down through generations. Their folk horror offerings tap into that primal dread, where nature itself seems to turn against you.


'Midsommar' – you knew it was gonna come up – hit us like a sun-drenched sledgehammer. Florence Pugh, luminous and vulnerable, stumbles into a Swedish commune that seems idyllic at first. But daylight hides darker rituals, and Aster unfurls them with a sickening beauty that'll make you rethink flower crowns forever.


'The Witch' we talked about earlier, but it deserves another mention. That film's a masterclass in atmosphere, in building a world where the very air crackles with superstition. The woods aren't just a backdrop, they're a malevolent force, and Black Phillip... well, he's earned his place in horror iconography.


Body Horror: Cronenberg Would Be Proud

Sometimes, the most terrifying thing is our own flesh. A24 doesn't shy away from the visceral, the grotesque transformation of the human form.


'Under the Skin' stars Scarlett Johansson, but don't expect your usual glamazon here. She's an alien predator, draped in human guise, luring men to their doom. This film's a slow burn, but it's chilling in its exploration of what it means to be human, to inhabit a body.


Then there's 'The Green Knight', a trippy retelling of Arthurian legend soaked in blood and mud. Dev Patel plays Gawain, a young knight on an impossible quest that tests not just his courage, but his very sanity. This movie's gorgeous but gruesome, the kind of body horror that lingers in your bones.


Movie poster for "Midsommar" showing a woman in a flower crown, her face part in sunlight, part in shadow, tears streaming down one side, evoking a deceptive tranquility.
Under the midsummer sun, where beauty masks the horror, the festival of nightmares begins

And That's Just the Tip of the Iceberg

A24 horror isn't about easy categorization. You've got your coming-of-age nightmares like 'Lady Bird' (yeah, it ain't gore, but that Catholic school setting is pure psychological dread for some of us). You've got your pitch-black comedies like 'The Lobster'. And hell, even 'Ex Machina', a sci-fi stunner, manages to be more chilling than most monster movies.


The beauty of A24 horror is the unpredictability. You never know quite what you're getting into, but you can bet it'll stick with you. So, if you're tired of the same old slasher flicks, if you crave something that burrows deeper, give A24 a try. Just maybe keep the lights on.

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