Folk horror conjures up many images, both old and new. Pagan rituals, witches, and sprawling landscapes all set the stage for stories that tend to get passed down from generation to generation whether through word of mouth, literature, or film. Director Kier-La Janisse crafts a comprehensive collection and thorough analysis of folk horror films that span back to the early 20th century in her impressive SXSW documentary, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror.
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Fascination with the occult has long been a fixation in the minds of many across the globe. Whether it be a perverse manifestation of the panic which sets in among all classes when the balance begins to shift toward greater individual freedom, an overdue opportunity to express guilt and sin under the guise of accusations against innocent victims, or just wanting to check out your astrology horoscope for the week, the idea of witches and witchcraft and the power of the moon always manages to make a comeback in the psyche of the general public.
Written, directed and produced by celebrated film writer, programmer and publisher Kier-La Janisse, Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror is a new documentary which seeks to explore the folk horror phenomenon from its beginnings through its proliferation on British television in the 1970s, touching on culturally specific manifestations in American, Asian, Australian and European horror, and highlighting the genre’s revival over the last decade.
I was lucky enough to chat with Janisse about her directorial debut, which is premiering at the 2021 virtual edition of the SXSW Film Festival. In the interview, we discuss the filmmaker’s love of folk horror, inaccurate nostalgia, psychogeography, finding comfort in alternative belief systems, domestic hauntings, and the ways in which the politics of insular communities can lead to radicalized thinking. Read More »