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Sunday Scaries: Horror Movies That Played at the Cannes Film Festival (Revisited for 2023)


The Sunday Scaries are upon us once again! Yes, as the weekend concludes, most of us feel an oncoming sense of anticipatory dread about the week ahead. Anxiety about work manifests itself into a feeling that’s known as the Sunday Scaries. However, we at Awards Radar are here to combat that, by taking back the name. Now, we want you think about a horror-centric piece on the site when you hear the term. So, let us continue on with another installment of the Awards Radar Sunday Scaries!

We’ve come to the end of the 2023 Cannes Film Festival this weekend. Like I wrote about last time I did this piece, it’s without question the most prestigious film festival in the world. Normally, that sort of connotation excludes horror from the equation, but Cannes is a unique beast. For decades, the fest has had scary movies of the finest ilk playing. Even this year, Cannes opened with horror in Final Cut. Below, you’ll see more than a half dozen recommended titles to pop in today that have a Cannes pedigree. A special citation goes out to Parasite, which isn’t quite horror, but would have topped this list if I had included it. Other titles that just missed the cut include AntichristThe House That Jack BuiltThe LighthouseThe Neon DemonTrain to Busan, and Zombi Child. Now, we can get on to the list, which is a pretty diverse lineup, if I do say so myself, including one brand new inclusion from last year…

Here are seven of the best fright flicks that played Cannes:

It Follows – One of the best horror films of the past 30 years, It Follows is a masterpiece of atmosphere and dread from David Robert Mitchell. With a star-making turn from Maika Monroe and an amazing amount of metaphorical creativity, this is an utter gem. I love it and it is one of the more inspired Cannes selections, regardless of genre. If you haven’t seen It Follows yet, rectify that immediately!

Irreversible – One of the hardest films to watch in cinematic history, Gaspar Noé truly pushed the envelope here with something that’s not traditional horror, but is nonetheless horrific. As the kids say, if you know you know. In the case of Irreversible, if you know why it’s so terrifying…you know.

Green Room – Jeremy Saulnier knows atmosphere. Green Room is an amazingly accomplished example of that. The horror is based in a fairly real fear, which makes the tension all the more palpable. Especially these days, the scenario is terrifyingly plausible. As an added bonus, of everything on this list, Green Room is the most fun of the lot, in addition to being one of the best.

Martyrs – A gory yet oddly profound French fright flick, it did seem oddly at home at the Cannes Film Festival. Can it be a little pretentious, when not being an incredibly violent movie? Yes. Does that take away from the visuals and the unique discussions it can generate? Absolutely not. Martyrs is divisive, but it’ll leave you wanting to talk about it, that’s for sure…

The Skin I Live In – You might not know it, but Pedro Almodovar directed a pretty gnarly horror movie. The Cannes Film Festival featured it, and while it got solid reactions, it’s a little under-appreciated in his oeuvre. For my money, though, it’s one of his best, bar none. The less you know about The Skin I Live In going in, the better…trust me there.

The Evil Dead – Back in 1981, the original in this franchise played Cannes. Can you believe it? Before Sam Raimi was an A-lister, he was at the fest pushing The Evil Dead upon the world. It’s of its time, to be sure, but it’s a classic, and I love the thought of that festival crowd trying to make sense of it. What a day that must have been!

Titane – Not strictly horror, but kind of everything, this movie is dementedly brilliant. My rave has this bit: “Titane continually evolves, almost as if it’s several films in one. For those curious about the title, the press materials for the flick uses this definition for the word…”Titane: A metal highly resistant to heat and corrosion, with high tensile strength alloys, often used in medical prostheses due to its pronounced biocompatibility.” Knowing that doesn’t matter too much for enjoyment of the movie, but it does put you in the right mind-frame for this original effort.”

Crimes of the Future – David Cronenberg‘s return to body horror was a bit of a Cannes outlier, but it certainly fits for this list. My review here from last year included this section: “David Cronenberg is undeniably known for being a pioneering storyteller in the world of body horror. In fact, odds are, if you have a favorite Cronenberg film, it’s likely an example of body horror. Whether it has been a prime focus or just an element in his work (The Fly probably being the most successful of his outings), it’s largely what the man is known for, cinematically. After a period away from the genre, he’s returned with Crimes of the Future, a movie that sees him dipping his toes back into the ground he helped pave. While it lacks the prestige and awards friendliness of something like Eastern Promises or A History of Violence, he’s not fully trying to gross you out. In that way, the flick plays like a re-introduction for Cronenberg to body horror. Depending on how that sounds to you, that’s a fair assumption of how you’ll react to this one.”

“It Follows” (2014) Cinematography by Mike Gioulakis

Do you have a favorite horror movie that has played at the Cannes Film Festival? Let us know!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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