15 Best Horror Films Set In The Woods (2022)

The woods can be a frightening place. The horror genre knows this andtaps into our fears of isolation and the creepiness of being alone in the woods, stalked by unseen terrors. From director Wes Craven to iconic killer Jason Voorhees, many cinematic terrors have found a macabre home in the woods.

Moviessuch as 1980's Friday the 13th to 2011's The Cabin in the Woodsand beyond have taken advantage of the audience's fear of the deep woods. Many of the great scary films use this setting effectively and these are some of the best of all time.

Updated on April 24th, 2o21 by Mark Birrell:As simple a setting as it may seem woodlands and forest are one of the most effective backdrops for horror stories and, in the case of movies, they can provide productions that are so often bound to very low budgets with an invaluable source of natural character and menacing beauty. Horror films that take place in the woods come in all shapes and sizes and stretch across a larger breadth of movie history than some fans may realize. We've added some more examples to this list to better showcase the very best horror films set in the woods.

15 Eden Lake (2008)Available on Vudu

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A talented cast makes up this deeply disturbing horror-thriller about a couple that becomes harassed by a group of young kids while taking a secluded woodland getaway, with the situation quickly descending into a nightmarish ordeal of torture and murder.

Eden Lakeis, by virtue of its premise alone,a movie that regularly flirts with exploitation cinema but the mixture of top-shelf performances with the extreme violence makes for an unusually impactful cocktail.

14 Sleepaway Camp (1983)Available on Peacock

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Sleepaway Camp isa cult hit that, though a derivative summer camp slasher in many ways, left an impression onaudiences in 1983 and has been doing so ever since. The story sees a young girl and her cousin go to a summer camp and those that disrespect them meeta bloody end.

Themovie has a wicked sense of humor and some creative kill scenes but what audiences remember most is the final twist. Itspawned a successful straight-to-video series of sequels and its popular legacy lives on even today.

13 The Burning (1981)Available on Tubi

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(Video) 10 Best Horror Films Set In The Woods

Another greatslasher treasure is The Burning, a killer in the woods classic due to its cast, pacing, and Tom Savini's marvelous makeup effects.

The cast included a pre-fame Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander and involved a murderer at a summer camp killing his victims with super sharp gardening shears. Themovie makes good use of its outdoor setting and provides genre fans with an entertainingtake on the early '80s slasher formula with plenty of gore.

12 The Last House On The Left (1972) Available on Amazon Prime Video

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Wes Craven's horror classic The Last House on the Left has gone down as one of the most disturbing and effective horrormovies ever made. The controversial story sees two teenage girls kidnapped by a group of violent maniacs and the girls' parents seeking bloody revenge.

The movie played well in drive-in and Grindhouse theaters with audiencesbeing stunned at theovert brutality and extreme violence. It was banned in some countries for its subject matter and even Wes Craven was said to have been shocked after he saw his final cut.

11 Dead End (2003)Available on Amazon Prime Video

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Driving to a Christmas gathering through an isolated forest road, a family comes across a ghostly Woman in White cradling a baby. Before they can find help, she disappears and their night becomes an endless series of bizarrely horrific encounters.

Dead Endis a devotedly campfire-ish tale that makes the most of minimal locations, with the darkness of the woods around the characters playing brilliantly into the movie's emphasis on leaving the worst of the horror up to the audience's imagination.

10 The Ritual (2017)Available on Netflix

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A group of friends looking down the barrel of middle age are planning their next getaway when one of them iskilled in a robbery, prompting the rest of the group to opt for their idea ofhiking the King's Trail in Sweden. An injury, however, forces the already fractious group to attempt to cut through the dense forest between the mountains, and their minds become tested as they're then stalked by a monstrous presence.

The Ritualwas the feature-length debut of director David Bruckner, who had already made a name for himself on the horror scene with standout segments in popular anthologies, and the movie shows a huge amount of ingenuity as the convincingly everyday characters have their deepest fears made a reality. But it never detracts from the sinister character of their surroundings,which remain the real star of the show.

9 Lake of the Dead (1958)

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A little known oddity outside of its native Norway,Lake of the Deadis an atmospheric ghost story set deep inan idyllic–yet haunting–forest that houses a creepy cabin. It comes with a dark story attached to it but the movie uses it for more of a deconstruction of storytelling rather than using it as an opportunity for murder and monsters.

Filled a unique air of mystery and sense of humor, the movie has a lastingly eerie atmosphere throughout thanks in no small part to its natural surroundings. It's not an easy movie to find on streaming services but it did receive a more widely-distributed, if less well-received, remake in 2019.

8 The Cabin in the Woods (2011)Available on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video

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A rare horror-comedy that puts as much effort into the scares as it does into the laughs,The Cabin in the Woodscan be viewed as a parody or satire of the genre but it acts just as well as a straight exploration of its most prevalent themes.

The wild story is a parade of homages to some of the most beloved and inventive monsters and subgenres from horror history, the woods setting unfolding into something much more sprawling and satisfying than the typical slasher spoof setup.

7 It Comes At Night (2017)Available on Netflix

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A unique and highly dramatic take on the post-apocalyptic survival horror setup, It Comes at Night followsa family surviving the collapse of civilization in seclusion in the woods when another family stumbles across their home seeking refuge themselves.

The dynamics of trust and paranoia are played out to their most horrific ends as the two groups try to cohabitate in a world filled with deadly danger that can crop up at any moment and the stillness of their surroundings makes the anguish and horror of their ordeal scream out all the louder.

6 Friday the 13th (1980) Available on Starz

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One of the biggest box office surprises in history, Friday the 13th was a low-budget moviethat took the box office by storm and officially ushered in the slasher crazeofthe 1980s. The story of Mrs. Voorhees taking her revenge on the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake is one of the most well-known in all of the 80s horror films.

The campers' slaughter is made all the more memorable by makeup guru Tom Savini and, although it is his mother who does the killing in the original movie, Jason Voorhees was introduced and an iconic and seemingly never-ending horror series was born.

5 Antichrist (2009)Available on The Criterion Channel

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Lars Von Trier is a polarizing filmmaker and Antichrist is one of his most polarizing movies. This terrifying tale starts when a couple's son tragically dies and they retreatto a cabin in the woods to try and heal their marriage and their minds.

Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsborough deliver devastating performances as the grieving couple and Von Trier doesn't shy away from terror as the woods becomes a twisted purgatory of the soul. The woods are alive and knowthe characters' deepest secrets and fears, and they are violently unforgiving.

4 The Evil Dead (1981)Available on Cinemax

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Infused with a very dark sense of humor, Sam Raimi's horror classic The Evil Dead terrified audiences and introduced ahero that would become a horror icon. Five friends take a vacation to a cabin deep in the woods and find a book of the dead, accidentally unleash demonic forces that bring about a waking hell for the group that would serve as the biggest influence on The Cabin in the Woodsthirty years later.

Bruce Campbell gives aterrific performancein the lead role and his character, Ash, would go on to become one of the mostbeloved in horror movie history. Overall, it's a groundbreaking and terrifying horror movie, and many consider this to be Sam Raimi's masterpiece.

3 Evil Dead II (1987)Available on Cinemax

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Sam Raimi's followup toThe Evil Deaddoubled down on the original movie's comedic qualities and amped up both the gore and creativity to create one of the most acclaimed sequels in genre movie history, not just within the world of horror.

Serving as both a sequel and a partial remake ofThe Evil Dead,Evil Dead IIis set in the same seminal creepy cabin in the woods as the Deadites released by the powerful Necronomicon get even bigger, weirder, and more frightening than they were in the first installment. The third movie in Raimi'sEvil Dead trilogy would move even further towards comedy and cement Campbell's hero, Ash, as a face asintegral to the genre as any of themost famousslasher movie killers, with his iconic look being perfected and debuting in its chainsaw-wielding glory in this installment.

2 The Blair Witch Project (1999)Available on Netflix

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Low-budget horror changed forever with Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick's phenomenally successfulfound footage horror movie,The Blair Witch Project. The story of three friends who go into the woods to find the "Blair Witch" and then meetundisclosedfates is one that divides horror fans. Considered by many to be a frightening masterpiece, the film has detractors who claim its minimalism hurts it.

Critics and most horror aficionados find the film to be one of the most effective films in the genre. The next to no budget approach helps achieve the creepy aura as the film (shot by the actorswith video cameras) is grainy and realistic. It was the spark thatignited the mainstream popularity of the "found footage" subgenre and found its way into the Guinness Book of World Recordsfor the highest box office to budget ratio. The film cost only sixty thousand dollars to make and earned almost two hundred and fifty million at the box office.

1 The Witch (2015) Available on Showtime

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Robert Eggers debut feature film,The Witch, impressed both audiences and critics, becoming a modern horror masterpiece. A heavily religious family in the 1600s New England lives on a farm that is surrounded by woods. Deep in the woods is a witch who does the devil's bidding and the family begins to be torn apart.

Eggers uses the slowest of slow burns but doesn't ease the audience into the terror. It exists in every moment. The woods that surround the family's farm give no comfort. The devil has stakedtheir claim and the woods come for the family through possession and black magic. By the film's shocking ending, Eggers has created a truly unique and riveting horror tale.

NEXT:10 Best Families In Horror Movies


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