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10 Freakiest Horror Movie Forests

You never know what you might find in the woods.
Spooky Forest
By  · Published on October 11th, 2019

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The forests of Round Rock, Texas, are patchy clumps of shrubs, scattered trees, and tall grass. One does not fall into a fairy tale black hole as they would in southwest Germany, but that doesn’t make Round Rock’s balding terrain any less terrifying, especially under cover of night. Just ask poor Franklin (Paul A. Partain) desperately tracking behind his sister Sally (Marilyn Burns) as they go wandering into the weeds to find their lost friends. “Wait up, Sally! Wait up!” he cries into the dark, acting as a beacon for Leatherface (Gunner Hanson) to come chain saw charging. Franklin’s wheelchair is an anchor in the thicket; all he can offer are screams and meat. Sally has better luck, fleeing in a frenzy from her brother’s ground chuck demise. The long blades of grass are replaced by skeletal branches slashing at her body as she belts into the black void. Like some witch’s house, the Sawyer place appears in the middle of the woods to offer false respite before revealing an even deeper realm of horror. Lions and Tigers and Cannibals, Oh my! (Brad Gullickson)

4. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

Blair Witch Project

Living next to a sparsely wooded area in the Central Texas countryside is arguably one of the reasons horror means so much to me. Spooky environments were my childhood playground! While I could compartmentalize the fears of being abducted by aliens in the woods, The Blair Witch Project was a level of horror unbeknownst to a 6th grader. I couldn’t tangibly wrap my head around what was in the woods chasing the three filmmakers, partially because of how the film intentionally leaves the audience in the dark as to what the horror actually is. But more so, because the actors were immersed in the woods for a week, shooting the film only with scant direction from the actual filmmakers, the Black Hills forest comes to life. Blair Witch is as real as found footage gets, and twenty years later, it’s still utterly terrifying. (Jacob Trussell)

3. Backcountry (2015)


I’ve never been a camping guy. I don’t get it, but I understand there are people out there that like to get in touch with nature. What I don’t understand is why someone would risk getting eaten by a bear just to touch nature. Bears live in the woods and that is where people go camping. And when bears see people camping in their woods they eat them. Don’t believe me? Then maybe you should watch Adam MacDonald‘s 2014 animal attack movie that happens to be based on a true story — it’s not all true but the man-eating bear part is. A young couple is trying to have a relaxing holiday in the woods when they are attacked by a bear, resulting in what is arguably the most gruesome and horrifying sequence I have ever seen in a film. In case it’s not clear, I’m talking about the scene in which the bear eats someone! I now suffer from Arkoudaphobia. On a lighter note, this is one of the few good movies with Eric Balfour, so that’s cool. (Chris Coffel)

2. Antichrist (2009)


What’s scariest about the locale of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist isn’t even the forest itself but the darkness it holds. When an unnamed couple, still grieving the death of their young son, venture to what should be an idyllic cabin, the anxieties and tensions boiling up beneath the surface begin to overflow, with devastating consequences. Written while the writer/director was suffering from a depressive episode, the film is a grueling ordeal with an outlook that is unbearably grim. But for those willing to engage with von Trier’s challenging perspective on trauma, the film is a rewarding experience that is unmatched by any other film. Willem Dafoe (certainly not Willem Dafriend) is the husband to Charlotte Gainsbourg’s wife and as they spend time in the cabin they each become exposed to the chaos of their environment, or maybe it just awakens the chaos that’s always lurked within? Either way, in Von Trier’s brutal masterwork, the frightening forest is just the start of this spectacular descent in madness, crafted in a way that only the Danish God of Terror could pull off. Bless him. (Anna Swanson)

1. Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead

Forests can be terrifying places, and while two of the scariest failed to make this list — more of you need to see The Interior (2015) and Willow Creek (2013)! — I’m thrilled to see Evil Dead (2013) not only make the cut but also take the top spot. The remake takes Sam Raimi‘s popular originals, excises the slapstick and cheap feel, ramps up the pure, unfiltered horror, and then lathers the screen in blood and gore. Much of the film plays out in the cabin, but the sequences in the woods are frighteningly intense thanks to incredible production design, effective direction, and a stellar turn by Jane Levy. (Rob Hunter)

Worried about not seeing the forest for the trees? Take a breather with more entries in our 31 Days of Horror Lists!

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Valerie Ettenhofer is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer, TV-lover, and mac and cheese enthusiast. As a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects, she covers television through regular reviews and her recurring column, Episodes. She is also a voting member of the Critics Choice Association's television and documentary branches. Twitter: @aandeandval (She/her)