Did you KNOW that I love love? I know that might come as something of a surprise to you, given that I spend all my time on this here site talking about horror, guts, gore, Quentin Tarantino, and horror again: but in my other writing life, I’m a romance author with the biggest soft spot for all things love-drenched and lusty.
And today, I want to bring those things together and talk about romantic horror! They might sound contradictory on the surface, but when they come together, the two genres make for a really interesting combination, even if it’s not exactly super highly-populated in the horror mainstream. Let’s talk about the spooky, sexy, scary cinema that I love!
- After Midnight
We’ve all been there: post break-up, and a monster starts clawing at your door. No, I’m not talking about either of my horrible little cats, though I could see why you’d think that, I’m talking about 2019’s After Midnight, the low-key, offbeat romantic horror directed by and starring Jeremy Gardner. Following the story of a man reeling after the end of his long-term relationship and trying to piece together how the hell it all went so wrong – interspersed with attacks from a mysterious creature looking to do some serious damage to him and what remains of his life – it’s a sad, melancholy, intimate but ultimately really engaging romantic drama that uses the horror elements to enhance the loneliness and spiralling sadness that consumes the main character.
- Jakob’s Wife
Is Larry Fessenden the last thing I’m going to see before I die? Given how inescapable he seems in my movie-watching lately, I can only assume the answer is yes. But hey, that’s not a bad thing, especially not when it comes in the form of Jakob’s Wife, a curious, comedic, and wildly entertaining horror-of-manners starring Barbara Crampton as the wife of an uptight preacher (Fessenden), who begins to crave more after an encounter with a mysterious and ravenous being. It’s really a portrait of a marriage in crisis, and then in a bigger one, and Fessenden and Crampton find the chemistry and comedy to turn this into a genuinely engaging sort-of love story.
What’s better than vampires? Lesbian vampires. Especially lesbian vampires inspired by the brilliant Sheridan Le Fanu novel Carmilla, which was a low-key obsession of mine as a teenager (thanks in no small part to the very fun modern webseries of the same name). Carmilla is one of those stories that creators constantly return to just because there’s so much depth here to mine, and the 2019 movie adaptation is no different. Director Emily Harris creates this dreamy, explorative tone that takes time to unfold the complex relationship between mysterious incomer Carmilla, isolated young Laura, and her governess Miss Fontaine, against the backdrop of a lush and striking 19th-century upper classes. Romantic, sensual, and dripping with danger, it does genuine justice to Le Fanu’s fabulous novel.
By Lou MacGregor
(header image via Hollywood Reporter)