Love, exciting and new! Or, ancient and blood soaked. We’re not judging. There tends to be something wrong – lonesome, desperate, twisted, star crossed – about true love in horror. Maybe that’s what makes it so much more memorable. Here are our five favorite love stories in horror.
5. Spring (2014)
Evan (a spot-on Lou Taylor Pucci) has hit a rough patch. After nursing his ailing mother for two years, Evan finds himself in a bar fight just hours after her funeral. With grief dogging him and the cops looking to bring him in, he grabs his passport and heads to the first international location available: Italy.
It’s a wise setup, and an earnest Pucci delivers the tender, open performance the film requires. He’s matched by the mysterious Nadia Hilker as Louise, the beautiful stranger who captivates Evan.
At its core, Spring is a love story that animates the fear of commitment in a way few others do. The film’s entire aesthetic animates the idea of the natural world’s overwhelming beauty and danger. It’s a vision that’s equally suited to a sweeping romance or a monster movie, and since you’ll have a hard time determining which of those labels best fits Spring, it’s a good look.
4. Bones and All (2022)
The film follows Maren (an absorbing Taylor Russell, Waves), coming of age on the fringes of Reagan-era America. She meets and slowly falls for another outcast with similar tastes, Lee (Timothée Chalamet), and the two take to the road.
Given what the handsome young lovers have in common, you might expect a sort of meat lovers’ Badlands to follow. But Bones and All is less concerned with the carnage left in a wake than in what’s awakening in these characters themselves.
Bones and All is a tough one to categorize. I suppose it’s a horror film, a romance, and a road picture – not three labels you often find on the same movie. In Guadagnino’s hands, it’s more than that, though. He embraces the strength of the solid YA theme that you have to be who you are, no matter how ugly the world may tell you that is. You have to be you, bones and all. Finding Maren’s way to that epiphany is heartbreaking and bloody but heroic, too.
3. Border (2018)
Sometimes knowing yourself means embracing the beast within. Sometimes it means making peace with the beast without. For Tina—well, let’s just say Tina’s got a lot going on right now.
Border director/co-writer Ali Abbasi (Holy Spider) has more in mind than your typical Ugly Duckling tale, though. He mines John Ajvide Lindqvist’s (Let the Right One In) short story of outsider love and Nordic folklore for ideas of radicalization, empowerment, gender fluidity and feminine rage.
The result is a film quite unlike anything else, one offering layer upon provocative, messy layer and Abbasi feels no compulsion to tidy up. Instead, he leaves you with a lot to think through thanks to one unyieldingly original film.
2. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)
Ana Lily Amirpour has made the world’s first Iranian vampire movie, and though she borrows liberally and lovingly from a wide array of inspirations, the film she’s crafted is undeniably, peculiarly her own.
Set in Bad Town, a city depleted of life – tidy yet nearly vacant – Girl (Sheila Vand) haunts the shadowy, lonesome fringes of civilization. One by one we get to know a pimp, a prostitute, an addict, a street urchin, and handsome Arash (Arash Mirandi).
Watching their love story play out in the gorgeously stylized, hypnotic backdrop of Amirpour’s creation is among the most lonesome and lovely ways to enjoy a good bloodletting.
1. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Visionary writer/director Jim Jarmusch enlists Tom Hilddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve (perfect!), a vampire couple rekindling their centuries-old romance against the picturesque backdrop of…Detroit.
Not since the David Bowie/Catherine Deneuve pairing in The Hunger has there been such perfectly vampiric casting. Swinton and Hiddleston, already two of the most consistently excellent actors around, deliver cooly detached, underplayed performances, wearing the world- weariness of their characters in uniquely contrasting ways.
Jarmusch, as he often does, creates a setting that is totally engrossing, full of fluid beauty and wicked humor. The film moseys toward its perfect finale, casually waxing Goth philosophic about soul mates and finding your joy.
We found ours.