Thursday, January 25, 2024

6 Arctic Thrillers to Watch If You’re Enjoying “True Detective: Night Country”

It’s hard to imagine nowadays, but humans weren’t always at the top of the food chain. And with our ancestors being preyed upon by larger mammals and even our fellow humanoids, it stands to reason that we’d develop a generalized fear of the dark. That’s why it makes sense that cold places where the sun doesn’t routinely rise are naturally suited for spooky stories.

This is precisely what showrunner Issa López had in mind when she came up with HBO’s True Detective: Night Country, a brand-new murder mystery that returns the anthology show to its horrific roots. And with new episodes dropping weekly, we’ve decided to help viewers get an additional fix of frigid frights by recommending six arctic thrillers to watch after TD: Night Country.

As usual, don’t forget to comment below with your own arctic favorites if you think we missed a particularly spooky one. And while it’s technically not a movie, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend one of my personal favorite tales of arctic horror, AMC’s adaptation of Dan Simmons’ The Terror!

With that out of the way, onto the list…

6. The Last Winter (2006)

Having done phenomenal work on projects like Until Dawn, 2001’s Wendigo and the classic Fear Itself episode Skin & Bones, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Larry Fessenden is a master of wintertime horror. 2006’s The Last Winter is yet another example of the New York filmmaker’s affinity for snowy terror, though this icy thriller takes a more environmentally conscious approach to horror than his previous projects.

Telling the story of oil company employees and environmentalists who come across paranormal phenomena while working at a drilling base in northern Alaska, The Last Winter features some trippy visuals (ghost caribou!) and a solid cast, but it’s the oppressive arctic atmosphere that makes this ecological caution tale worth revisiting.

5. 30 Days of Night (2007)

Comic-book adaptations are usually relegated to super-hero action, but every now and again we get a cinematic reminder that there’s more to this medium than spandex and fight scenes. David Slade’s 30 Days of Night is one such reminder, beautifully blending Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith’s stylish source material with a grounded tone and adding an unexpectedly intimidating performance by Danny Huston.

Chronicling the plight of Barrow, Alaska when vampires decide to raid the city during its month-long polar night, this self-explanatory thriller is one of the best horror comic adaptations out there. And while the shark-like vampires may be the main focus of the scares here, it’s the fury of the Alaskan winter that elevates the experience to much more than a simple B-movie.

4. The Thing from Another World (1951)

Christian Nyby’s 1951 adaptation of John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There? may be overshadowed by its Antarctic counterpart, but that doesn’t mean this sci-fi classic isn’t still worth revisiting over 70 years later. Following a group of scientists and air force officials as they uncover a plant-based alien being that crash-landed in the arctic ice, the isolated men soon find themselves being hunted by a blood-guzzling monster.

Sure, the film can’t quite convey the eerie paranoia of its source material, but it still stands on its own as a solid monster movie with an atmospheric sci-fi twist. Plus, it taught us to keep watching the skies in case another vegetable man decides to invade our planet.

3. Arctic (2018)

I’ll watch anything with Mads Mikkelsen in it, which is a practice that has led me to some pretty interesting films over the years. For instance, that’s how I stumbled onto one of the most entertaining Mads vehicles in recent memory, Joe Penna’s Arctic. An American-Icelandic co-production about a man who finds himself stranded in the arctic circle, the movie is absolutely carried by a near-silent performance courtesy of our favorite Danish actor.

With nature itself depicted as the antagonist as our protagonist struggles to find hope in a desolate biome, this is an all-time best survival flick and one hell of a melancholy ride. It may not feature the same level of action as some of the other entries on this list, but I assure you that the gorgeous cinematography will keep your eyes glued to the screen until the very end.

2. The Grey (2011)

Liam Neeson has garnered a reputation as something of a journeyman performer, starring in yearly dad movies like The Ice Road and Retribution, but the Irish actor has proven that he’s capable of real pathos when given the chance. That’s why I appreciate Joe Carnahan’s The Grey so much, as this lean, mean survival thriller allows Neeson to show off his action chops as well as his more poetic sensibilities.

Following a group of oil workers and their sharpshooter (Neeson) when they crash-land into the Alaskan Wilderness, The Grey benefits from legitimately scary antagonists in the form of ravenous grey wolves – in addition to the usual horrors of sub-zero survival. In all honesty, this is my second favorite Liam Neeson film, losing only to Sam Raimi’s Darkman.

1. Insomnia (1997)

I’ve already covered Christopher Nolan’s highly underrated remake of this Norwegian murder mystery, but when it comes to arctic thrills, you really can’t beat the (mostly metaphorical) darkness of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s original. Featuring Stellan Skarsgård as an insomniac detective haunted by the past (and the midnight sun) as he pursues a manipulative serial killer, this eerie crime story makes great use of its disturbed main character and the arctic setting.

More Crime and Punishment than Se7en, Insomnia’s true thrills lie hidden inside of detective Engström’s rapidly deteriorating psyche, which is why I think it’s one of the most interesting movies on this list.

The post 6 Arctic Thrillers to Watch If You’re Enjoying “True Detective: Night Country” appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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