Anthology Film Archives


October 28 – November 14

Inspired by Kier-La Janisse’s new documentary, WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED, this series explores the subject matter of Janisse’s extraordinary work of filmic scholarship and excavation: the sub-genre of “folk horror.” A stubbornly slippery and multi-faceted category, the many different manifestations and dimensions of which Janisse thoroughly and perceptively traces, folk horror in its purest form centers on rural communities or landscapes that gradually reveal a hidden world of shadowy rituals and ancient belief systems persisting beneath the surface of society, subverting and calling into question the supposedly scientific certainties of our rational modern civilization. On a more metaphorical level, folk horror films often posit the “folk” themselves as a source of dread – in film after film, civilized, individualistic city dwellers find themselves in rural environments teeming with dark powers, secret societies, and communities tied together into an impenetrable and ghastly unity by their irrational convictions and behaviors.

Folk horror’s roots lie in the United Kingdom, in a literary tradition developed by writers like M.R. James and Arthur Machen, which later found expression cinematically in films such as ROBIN REDBREAST, THE WICKER MAN, and the many television adaptations of James’s stories that proliferated in the 1970s. But the genre quickly spread to the U.S. and across the globe, manifesting unmistakably in works like MESSIAH OF EVIL and PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, and more subtly in DELIVERANCE, WAKE IN FRIGHT, CANDYMAN, and many others. More recently, the genre has seen a major resurgence, with high-profile films including MIDSOMMAR and somewhat more obscure ones such as LA LLORONA, NOVEMBER, and many, many others.

Book-ended by two theatrical screenings of WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED, this series showcases a (necessarily limited) sampling of the dozens and dozens of films covered in the documentary.

Immediately preceding “Folk Horror”, Anthology hosts the NY theatrical premiere engagement of a film that’s closely related to the genre, albeit in a documentary context: Joshua Bonnetta’s THE TWO SIGHTS (2020); click here for more details.

Curated in collaboration with Jennifer Anna. Special thanks to Kier-La Janisse; Johanna Bauman (Pratt Institute Libraries); Bret Berg & Ivan Peycheff (American Genre Film Archive); Chris Chouinard (Park Circus); Molly Clarke; Eric Di Bernardo (Rialto Pictures); Carole Dray (BBC); Jack Durwood (Paramount); Harry Guerro; Barbara Hirschfeld; Jason Jackowski (Universal Pictures); Alistair Leach (Hollywood Classics); Cameron Swanagon (Oscilloscope); Justin Timms (Yellow Veil Pictures); and Orly Yadin (Vermont International Film Festival).

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