It's a known fact in the world of the horror genre, that British horror films are often exceptional. Hollywood owes a good portion of the success garnered by American remakes, to the original films that inspired them. In the horror genre, British movies are often popular targets for remakes. Sometimes said remakes become huge, blockbuster hits, but more commonly, the attempts fall flat and fail to recapture the magic created by the original.
Nevertheless, some of the most famous, scary, and iconic horror movies are either British, or American retellings of original British films. So if you're a fan of horror, here are ten British horror movies that would be well worth the time investment.
10 THE OMEN (1976)
The story of Damien, the evil little boy often associated with the numbers 666, is an age-old classic story. It originated in 1976, with the film The Omen, and this story has been the subject of countless remakes, retellings, and movies loosely based on it, ever since.
With all the hype it inspired, the original film that started it all, is too often overlooked. It was directed by Richard Donner and starred Gregory Peck. Today, the original version of The Omen holds an impressive 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Being the origins of a pivotal figure in horror, this film is well worth the watch.
9 MUM & DAD (2008)
Not to be mistaken for the lifeless, mediocre 2017 American remake starring Nicholas Cage and Selma Blair, Steven Sheil's Mum & Dad was created almost ten years before, and holds a much more respectable reputation than its American counterpart.
Premiering in the London FrightFest Film Festival, Mum & Dad is the story of Lena, an airport cleaner who is forced to stay with her colleague after finding herself stranded one night after work. The film is a dark and twisty story, being pegged as a slasher but at its core, it's a little too complex to be just a slasher.
8 THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2012)
The second film adaption of Susan Hill's 1983 novel, James Watkin's The Woman In Black was a box office smash hit and received significant critical praise. Though today the film is remembered as little more than an average supernatural thriller, in its time, The Woman In Black certainly made its mark.
The 2012 film is normally regarded as the best film adaptation of Susan Hill's story, but the 1989 version is also worth the watch.
7 28 DAYS LATER (2002)
In the early 2000s, the zombie genre was at its peak. With hits such as Shaun Of The Dead, I Am Legend, Fido, and a slew of awesome George A. Romero flicks, movies chronicling post-apocalyptic events and the attack of the living dead, were all the rage.
28 Days Later was directed Danny Boyle and starred Cillian Murphy as the lead. The film presents a unique take on the zombie genre, and is a very powerful addition to the collection of early 2000s horror flicks.
6 AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)
Probably one of the most famous British horror films ever made, An American Werewolf in London was revolutionary when it hit theatres in 1981. Today, it holds an excellent 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is still sited as one of the most iconic werewolf films ever. An American Werewolf In London follows two American college students who are victims of a wolf attack in the midst of their backpacking journey through Britain. It turns out, the wolf that attacked them was actually a werewolf, and the story goes from seemingly ordinary and comedic, to frightening. It was a major milestone in the genre.
5 GHOSTWATCH (1992)
Ghostwatch was a British mockumentary made-for-TV film that premiered on BBC1 on Halloween night, 1992. It was helmed by Lesley Manning, who would go on to direct a 2006 TV series titled The Story of Tracy Beaker. Ghostwatch was originally created for a BBC anthology series, Screen One, but it kind of took on a life of its own and became much more than an episode in a series. The film is relatively unknown to this day, but nevertheless, it was a milestone for the mockumentary genre, and is an underrated gem that is definitely worth checking out.
4 THE WICKER MAN (1973)
Not to be mistaken for the absolutely laughable 2006 American remake in which Nicholas Cage coined one of his most meme-able roles, the original version of The Wicker Man is far more favourable. Holding an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie remains a classic in the horror genre to this day.
The Wicker Man was directed by Robin Hardy, and was inspired by a David Pinner's 1967 novel, Ritual. The film is a truly chilling experience, and has even been regarded as "the Citizen Kane of horror movies".
3 THE INNOCENTS (1961)
Despite being several decades old, The Innocents has not lost its effect on viewers, and is still a horrifying watch. It's based on Henry James' classic horror novella, The Turn of The Screw, and is a psychological thriller bound to put you through some twisted mind games.
Directed by Jack Clayton and written by Truman Capote and William Archibald, The Innocents is about a governess who is responsible for watching over two young children, and soon begins to suspect that their enormous estate is haunted by ghosts and the children are being possessed. The film is an artistic exploration of the depth of fear, and still, so many years later, does not disappoint.
2 THE CHILDREN (2008)
This obscure horror film boasts grey, gloomy winter setting as the backdrop for the slow unraveling of some frightening events. It follows the story of a family who decides to spend Christmas together at a very isolated cabin. Quickly, the kids begin to fall ill, and what the adults at first believe to be nothing more than a stomach flu, turns out to be a completely sinister disease that causes the kids to turn on their parents.
This is quite the concept, and it's one that The Children executes quite well. It's an unnerving, dark, and very well-written film that is too often overlooked.
1 GHOST STORIES (2017)
BBC's Sherlock alumni, Martin Freeman, stars in this witty, unsettling, and darkly humorous partial mockumentary. Ghost Stories is an anthology-style movie that is led by a character named Phillip Goodman, a professor and self-proclaimed skeptic on all things supernatural. The film was written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman, who based it off of their own 2010 stage play.
Ghost Stories is told partly from the perspectives of an offscreen camera crew who follow Phillip Goodman around as he embarks on multiple journeys and interviews in attempt to debunk fraudulent psychics and the like. This film is simple, but utterly unnerving and satisfying, and it even comes with a compelling twist ending.