As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, a chill settles in the air. The temperature drops, snow begins to fall, and many retreat to the safety of their warm houses. There’s a certain stillness and peace that can be brought about in the snow, But sometimes that stillness and peace is disturbed by creatures lurking in the shadows. Whether they’re creatures of the night or human monsters, the quiet cold breeds fear, and these 10 films truly capture that fear.
10. Dreamcatcher (2003)
Based on a Stephen King tome, Dreamcatcher follows four friends on a hunting trip in the middle of the winter in Maine. There, they find an old man who cannot stop burping and ripping horrendous farts. While his raucous gas may seem humorous at first, it’s a symptom of something much worse: an alien that, unfortunately, rips out of his lower half. The film then snowballs (get it?) into military intervention, psychic powers, and a fight for survival.
It’s not an amazing film, but you can’t deny its use of a snowy landscape to push its parasitic alien terror. And it’s not the only parasitic alien film on this list!
9. Dead Snow (2009)
Part Nazi-zombie comedy, part claustrophobic nightmare, Dead Snow earns its place on this list as something wholly unique. According to a small Norwegian town’s history, a group of Nazis spent years torturing its people only to be ambushed and chased out-of-town. They disappeared into the woods. While many assumed that the soldiers merely froze to death, the outcome was much worse. Now, their evil, reanimated corpses roam the snow-covered countryside, preying on medical students on a skiing trip. Plus, one of the students gets buried upside-down after an avalanche in a sequence that still occasionally gives me nightmares.
8. Devil’s Pass (2013)
This found-footage horror follows a group of filmmakers who return to the site of the infamous Dyatlov Pass incident. In 1959, nine skiers were found dead at Dyatlov Pass but how their causes of death was not clear. Some say it was a yeti, others say it was soldiers, but regardless, conspiracy theories swirl around this incident. In Devil’s Pass, these young filmmakers try to debunk what happened in 1959. But what awaits them in the snow is beyond their worst and wildest nightmares.
7. Trollhunter (2010)
This film changed the found footage game for me. While many of them are about haunted houses or demons, this is about a whole other beast: trolls. Massive trolls the size of trees who are hunted by one man for the Norwegian government. Yes, that is the actual plot and yes it is an insanely fun watch. Trollhunter deftly weaves the shaky cam of the mockumentary with visual effects to create something truly unique, especially in a subgenre that can, at times, feel redundant.
6. The Terror (2018)
Last year, AMC debuted The Terror, a limited series that fell under the radar and requires your attention. It is a freezing cold study of tension, paranoia, and the horrors that both nature and humans are capable of. With a sprinkle of Lovecraftian horror, it’s the perfect show to binge watch during a cold winter weekend.
The show, based on the novel with the same name, follows the crew of doomed ships, HMS Terror and HMS Erebus, who tried to find a way through Antarctica. However, due to some poor decisions by the captain and a rather nasty winter, these men are trapped. Between rapidly depleting resources, disease, and a strange creature stalking their camp, there is no respite for these men. This show absolutely thrilled me, from its beautiful cinematography to top-notch cast. So if there’s snow in the forecast and work is cancelled, grab a blanket and cozy up with The Terror.
5. The Blackcoat’s Daughter (2015)
Not many movies have truly chilled me to the bone like Oz Perkins’ The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Set in the dead of winter at an all-girls Catholic school, the film is centered on two students, left there during break. Kiernan Shipka plays the chilling, troubled Kat who finds a friend in the basement. This friend, however, is thirsty for blood. So, with the pure white snow as her backdrop, she obliges. It is a film about possession, loneliness, growing up, and the monsters that lurk every step of the way. While it is a much quieter film than those on this list, it is not any less chilling or bloody.
4. 30 Days of Night (2009)
Arguably one of my favorite movies of all time, 30 Days of Night shows what happens when a group of ancient vampires take advantage of the sun not rising for 30 days. The town of Barrow, Alaska is their target, a place that is isolated from the rest of the world. Once the sun sets, these vampires descend on Barrow, ripping through, literally, the town’s residents like it is an all-you-can-eat buffet with their shark-like teeth and primal screeches. But what they don’t know is that some of the survivors, led by a dashing Josh Hartnett, are going to fight back. If you’re looking for a gore fest in the snow, 30 Days of Night is the film for you.
3. Let the Right One In (2008)
If there’s any vampire film you should see, it’s Let the Right One In. The film follows Oskar, a young outcast who meets a new friend, Eli. However, Eli isn’t like the other kids. She’s actually a vampire who is preying on the town’s residents.
The snowy landscape doesn’t just lend itself to the cold of Eli’s skin. It also portrays the pervasive sense of loneliness that both Oskar and Eli experience—Oskar in trying to fit in at school and Eli in floating through life as an immortal. In the cold winter where the sun sets so early, they can find solace in each other. It is a desperately sad and bloody love story that utilizes its frozen landscape to say so much. While the American remake, Let Me In, is a fine adaptation, skip it and watch this instead.
2. The Shining (1980)
If you ever need to clear your writer’s block, maybe don’t become the winter caretaker for a massive, haunted hotel in the middle of the mountains. Jack Torrance didn’t realize that, though, when he takes the job at the Overlook Hotel. Stanley As Jack and his family, Wendy and Danny, settle into a new life at the hotel, the ghosts begin to creep into their consciousness. Cabin fever only makes it worse as snow piles on the hotel. It all culminates in a terrifying climax in a snow-covered maze and a very frozen Jack Nicholson.
1. The Thing (1982)
What’s scarier than an alien lifeform that can imitate any biological object in comes in contact with? Being trapped with that alien lifeform in an isolated, freezing cold research station in Antarctica in the middle of a blizzard. A team of men at an Arctic research base are thrown into a rather harrowing situation after a mysterious dog arrives at their station. What this dog carries isn’t loyalty or friendship; rather, it brings to them a body-consuming parasite that wants nothing more than to escape this icy hell.
The Thing is a masterclass in paranoia and unease—you never know who you can trust. The scene where MacReady (Kurt Russell) tests each of their blood to see who is infected is truly one of the most stressful scenes in cinema. It is also one of the quintessential examples of body horror, warping the human body into shapes and forms you couldn’t fathom until John Carpenter had them burst onto the screen. Plus Russell wears a comically-large cowboy hat. I could go on for pages about The Thing, but rather than bore you, why not watch it for yourself?
Brr! Sure wouldn’t want to be caught outside with those cold weather beasts n’ villains. Share your fave snowy monsters on Twitter, in our Official Subreddit, and over in the Fiend Club Facebook Group!