IRELAND HAS proved a regular source of inspiration when it comes to horror movies.
Maybe it’s the inclement weather, vast open countryside, curious rural settings or Ireland’s decidedly religious leanings.
Whatever the case the Emerald Isle has proven fertile ground for big screen scares.
With Halloween upon us, there’s never been a better time to explore some of the scariest Irish horror films ever made – and, no, there’s not a single Leprechaun movie in sight.
The Devil’s Doorway (2018)
This atmospheric found-footage horror follows two Irish Roman Catholic priest who are dispatched to investigate a reported miracle at a remote Magdalene Laundry.
Tipped off by an anonymous letter from one of the Sisters claiming that a statue of the Virgin Mary is bleeding, the priests end up uncovering something far sinister.
Northern Irish filmmaker Aislinn Clarke garnered rave reviews for The Devil’s Doorway, which cleverly plays on the true-life horror of the Magdalene Laundries to deliver a truly terrifying debut feature.
Don’t Leave Home (2018)
Shot in the stunning surroundings of Killadoon House in Celbridge, Count Kildare, Don’t Leave Home centres on an American artist’s investigation into a disturbing urban legend involving the disappearance of a young girl.
Her journey eventually takes her to the origins of the tale: a crumbling Irish estate and a reclusive painter engaged in strange and unsettling rituals.
An eerie, dread-filled horror that was dubbed the Irish Catholic Get Out, director Michael Tully cranks up the tension and atmosphere in this chilling horror effort.
The Hallow (2015)
The Nun director Corin Hardy cut his teeth on this inspired Irish folk horror effort. It’s a simple enough premise, centred on a young couple and their infant child who go to stay in a house located deep in the midst of an Irish forest.
The forest has just been sold to a property developer and it would appear that the residents of the wood – a group of fairies and supernatural creatures known as “the hallow” - are none too happy about it.
Featuring some inspired scares and Irish riffs on films like Evil Dead and The Thing, The Hallow earned Hardy rave reviews and a one-way ticket to Hollywood.
Wake Wood (2009)
Game of Thrones favourite Aidan Gillen stars in this unsettling ghost story about a couple still reeling from the death of their young child.
After moving to a rural community in the hopes of heeling old wounds and beginning anew, the pair uncover a strange local ritual that enables lost souls to return from the dead for three days
The ritual comes with a very strict set of conditions – conditions they soon find themselves railing against. Featuring memorable turns from Timothy Spall and Eva Birthistle, Arthur Keating’s film explores the issue of loss as part of a uniquely atmospheric horror film.
The Canal (2014)
Irish filmmaker Ivan Kavanagh wrote and directed this well-paced dreadfest. Rupert Evans stars as David, a film archivist who has become increasingly concerned that his wife may be having an affair.
After moving his family into a period house located close to a canal, he uncovers a mysterious reel of footage that suggests the house was once the setting for a brutal murder.
A disorientating and disturbing descent into madness begins, with The Canal sharing some noted similarities with the hit US horror Sinister. This film has a much better twist though.
Without Name (2016)
Another Irish horror film with a distinctly eco-friendly feel, Lorcan Finnegan’s Without Name follows Alan McKenna’s hapless Eric, a land surveyor dispatched to assess an area of ancient forest recently purchased by a shady local developer.
But what starts as a mundane enough job soon turns into something far more unsettling when Eric begins to see a strange silhouette moving in amongst the trees.
Upon further investigation he learns the land belongs to someone – or something – and is definitely not for sale. A strikingly shot and effectively minimalist tale.
The Hole In The Ground (2019)
A brilliant slow-burn of a horror movie, The Hole In the Ground drew comparisons with The Babadook but is arguably the more complete film. Lee Cronin and co-writer Stephen Shields craft an impressively spooky tale, playing on the beauty of the Irish landscape as well as its innate ability to terrify.
Seána Kerslake and James Quinn Markey star as Sarah and Chris O’Neill, a mother and son who escape to the countryside in hopes of finding a new life. Those plans are shattered, however, when Chris disappears into the mysterious woods behind their new home.
Though he eventually returns, Sarah soon begins to suspect the boy who emerged from those woods isn’t her son at all. Heralded as one of the besth horror films of 2019, The Hole In The Ground is Irish filmmaking at its very best.