That fuzzy Omen Punxsutawney Phil has declared we’ve got six more weeks of winter ahead. Whether you believe in groundhog shadow magic or not, February can be a little… blah. So let’s escape together with a movie marathon in the Grimdark. 😈🎬
A Lighter, Fantastical Start
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is no Lord of the Rings, but Jackson’s work on that iconic trilogy raised the bar to stratospheric heights in fantasy filmmaking.
Nevertheless, the 2005 adaptation of the beloved C.S. Lewis novels is a visual treat. This Narnia feels like a Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter movie mashup, with gorgeous, wintry cinematography, Academy Award-winning makeup, and Oscar-worthy special effects.
The cast is also genuinely likeable, with Tilda Swinton’s White Witch fearsomely dominating her icy kingdom, and James McAvoy portraying Mr. Tumnus the faun with a memorably mischievous gleam.
All in all, Narnia is a good, wintry popcorn fantasy to watch with the whole family, while saving the darker stuff for later when the kids have gone to bed. 😉 We won’t mention the second and third installments of these movies for Reasons™.
Snow White and the Huntsman is a darkly atmospheric twist on the classic fairytale.
Charlize Theron is both grandiose and nuanced as Queen Ravenna, and of course, I can always get behind a gorgeous, raven-shifting queen. 😈🖤
Whether you like Kristen Stewart’s stoic acting style or not, it’s refreshing to see Snow White turn the tables and be an ass-kicking heroine. Add an ax-swinging Chris Hemsworth to the mix, and it’s good, winter, fantasy fun.
Dimming the Lights…
Saturn award-winning Edward Scissorhands was the legendary Vincent Price’s last ever role. Although lung cancer and Parkinson’s disease kept his screen-time in Scissorhands short, his performance as the lovably strange Inventor was perfect for Price, who was known as one of horror’s most dastardly on-screen performers, but also a tender, kind soul in real-life.
In that classic Tim Burton way, this film is both whimsically magical, and deeply somber. It’s like Frankenstein meets Mean Girls, in a sense, dealing with what it’s like to be a dark creature in a vanilla world, with bullies and toxic parents to boot.
Edward Scissorhands was also the gateway to Johnny Depp’s transition out of Tiger Beat teen heartthrob status to king of total character transformations. The Danny Elfman score is pure magic, as is the stellar cast. The sense of nostalgic wonder mixed with snowy scenes makes this a quintessential winter fantasy film.
If you don’t mind subtitles, Troll Hunter is a Nordic gem of a mockumentary, conjuring up a wicked mix of movies like Spinal Tap, The Blair Witch Project and The Dark Crystal.
With a dry-ice sense of humor – just like any true Norwegian – Troll Hunter has a likeable ensemble cast of characters, a truly unique central hero, and remarkably believable creatures that would make the late Jim Henson proud.
You’ll laugh, you’ll jump, you’ll have a rollicking good time, and then that twist ending will leave you breathless.
It’s Getting Dark & Cold in Here
Crimson Peak is a paranormal monsterpiece set in a haunted mansion on a remote mountain with snow that “bleeds” when the red earth beneath rises to the surface. Perhaps a metaphor for the deep secrets that lie within?
Guillermo del Toro’s epic work of art draws a bit from Victorian steampunk, but not too heavy-handedly. A Gothic horror story through and through, this supernatural tale is filled with ghostly mysteries, sexual taboo, flowing gowns, forbidden rooms, and a sweeping romance gone awry.
(Bonus points for one of the most incredible closing titles sequences in fantasy horror).
A Blood-Curdling Finale
Back in my Yuletide winter folklore newsletter series, I wrote about a terrifying monster of legend and myth called the Kallikantzaros, or the Christmas Vampire. Legend has it that this creature may have been the inspiration for the graphic novel, 30 Days of Night, and I wouldn’t be surprised.
The 30 Days of Night film adaptation is a blood-splattered fright fest, with some of the most memorable scenes and monsters you’ll likely see in a winter horror movie.
If you think Jack Torrance gets cranky when cooped up, just wait until you see what a pack of hungry, goblinesque vampires will do to an Alaskan town whose winters give them far more darkness than a vampire should be allowed to have.
More Where This Came From
Want to keep the weekend movie marathons running until spring? Check out Rotten Tomatoes’ Snowed In: Our Favorite Winter Movies to chase your blues away.