It would be safe to say that practically no one thinks “Horror films” when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.
As a lifelong connoisseur of the genre, this critic most certainly does.
Over the years, there have been many films in the genre that have been set in Ireland. Some deal with murders (the best example being Francis Ford Coppola’s 1963 gem “Dementia 13”), while most are steeped in Irish Folk Horror.
As witnessed through an exciting amount of creativity, last 15 or so years have been fruitful for the Independent Irish Horror scene.
Big time director Neil Jordan’s (who flourishes when working outside the studios) fantastic 2012 “Byzantium” was an involving piece about two vampires living in a small British seaside town.
Brian O’ Malley’s 2014 film “Let Us Prey” featured a career best performance from Liam Cunningham as a man who can take over the souls of those around him.
2012’s “Grabbers” was a fun mix of horror and comedy regarding a group of townies who discover that staying drunk is the only way to keep safe from an attack by bloodthirsty aliens.
Each film was Ireland-set and completely entertaining.
With many inventive and effective films that could be mentioned, here are 5 of the best modern Irish Horror films to help settle (or perhaps unsettle) all the corned beef and cabbage (and Guiness!) today will bring.
- “A Dark Song”- Liam Gavin (2016)
A grieving mother turns to an occult ritual to help bring closure regarding her son who was murdered/sacrificed at the hands of young occultists, but there is more going on than meets the eye. Extremely original and completely unsettling, the atmosphere created by director Gavin is nothing less than frightening.
A true surprise. One of the best Horror films of recent years.
- “Wake Wood”- David Keating (2009)
A couple who loses their young daughter to a tragic act of animal violence meets a strange and mysterious man who can bring the young girl back to “life”.
As this is the world of Horror, things do not go well, and the result is a genuinely creepy and extremely well-acted Horror film. Aidan Gillen and Eva Birthistle are fantastic, as is the always reliable Timothy Spall.
Heavily influenced by Nicholas Roeg’s masterpiece “Don’t Look Now”, Keating’s film is a treasure.
- “Citadel”- Ciarán Foy (2012)
James Cosmo is stunning as a priest who teams with an agoraphobic father suffering from a tragedy. The two men must work to save his daughter from a twisted group of violent, feral, children.
Through an unsettling atmosphere, this film is quite chilling. Homages to the work of both David Cronenberg and Roman Polanski blend perfectly to create this unique Horror tale.
- “The Canal”- Ivan Kavanaugh (2014)
A film archivist discovers (through an old 16mm film) a brutal murder took place at his home in the early 1900s. Around the same time if this discovery, the man’s wife goes missing and he begins to see ghostly apparitions.
Kavanaugh’s film is atmospheric to the extreme, never releasing the audience from its grip.
A taut and eerie tale.
- “Isolation”- Billy O’Brion (2005)
A cattle farmer allows some of his cows to be genetically modified in the hope of increasing their fertility.
What results is a monstrous parasite with the ability to infect humans as well.
A wee-bit slow and too obvious from time to time, but great fun and a properly gory riff on Jon Carpenter’s genre masterpiece, “The Thing”.
Silly and oh so bloody fun.