the best sunny horror films to watch this summer
It's never too hot to get sp00ky!
Still from I Know What You Did Last Summer
Why is it that we always associate horror and fear with winter? Maybe it’s something to do with those dark evenings: bare branches scraping against your window, howling winds and Halloween pumpkins left outside to rot. Sure, there’s something altogether spookier about the end of the year, which is probably why most horror films are based in October or later.
But actually, fuck all that noise, because there are some really great, really terrifying movies set in summer too -- after all, what’s scarier than being diabolically sweaty and always having hayfever? So, be goth! Avoid the sun! Scare yourself half to death instead of getting heat stroke and watch these terrifying summer horrors instead!
Family holidays are horrific. They are horrifying, even without the possibility of a gang of sinister doppelgängers lying in wait to terrorise you all and potentially steal your identity. We won’t spoil the ending of this killer psycho-horror from Get Out’s Jordan Peele for you, but the moral of this story is: never go to the beach with your family. It’s always more trouble than it’s worth.
Way before Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion were trying to stop us murdering the earth through climate change, there was Long Weekend. This ahead of its time horror realised the destructive, horrific power of disrespecting the environment, but the film’s protagonists did not. The story goes like this: Peter, Marcia and their pet dog go for a weekend camping trip and behave like arseholes, throwing lit cigarettes in the dry brush, spraying insecticide, generally polluting and ruining the picturesque environment. Nature turns murderous and gets its own back. Serves them right, but I just hope someone nice adopted their dog.
Long Weekend came out all the way back in 1978, but if you’re in search of a more modern summer horror -- one that unfolds like every ‘Florida man’ headline ever written -- look no further. In this truly wild scary movie, former Skins queen Kaya Scodelario plays a young woman caught up in a massive hurricane when it hits her Florida hometown. Kaya stupidly ignores evacuation orders to search for her missing dad. Unfortunately, when she finally locates him in the crawl space, the two become trapped by killer alligators. Not to victim blame but like, maybe obey the evacuation orders, Effy?
If there’s a ‘one to watch’ this summer then let’s be honest, it’s gotta be Midsommar. Half Wicker Man, half ‘you, stuck at a BBQ listening to your awful boyfriend and his mates lament the loss of Secret Garden Party’, this film from Hereditary’s Ari Aster has already become a future cult classic. It follows a couple on the brink of collapse while they try to survive a murderous (but very chic) cult. The beautiful, fairytale location -- a festival in a remote Swedish village -- doesn’t detract from the horror, instead just enhancing it, making everything even more creepy, even more remote. After all, what’s more horrifying than being stuck at a shit festival with awful people you don’t like? Big Fyre Festival vibes.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
My theory is that horror movies peaked in the 90s, and specifically that they peaked with this slasher classic. You cannot change my mind. There’s just something gloriously campy and ridiculous about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the jock boyfriend from She’s All That accidentally running over someone and then being haunted forever by the memory of that night, but more presciently by a man with a giant fish hook hand that wants to kill them all. Also the outfits are brilliant. So many spaghetti straps!
It would have been easy to set It -- an actually scary movie about the admittedly hilarious concept of a killer clown -- around Halloween. But it’s even scarier in summer. The kids of Derry are left to roam the sunny town unsupervised, leaving them prime targets for plague-ridden zombies, terrifying jesters hiding in the sewers, blood-covered bathrooms and monster houses ready to gobble them all up. Not to mention Derry’s older kids, who bully them relentlessly. Given how terrifying 2017's reboot of the tale was, we can’t wait for the next instalment, which lands in cinemas on 6 September.