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The 20 Best British Horror Films of All Time

Brexit is scary, but these movies are scarier.

Under the Skin

Courtesy of A24

5. “Repulsion” (1965)

Given Roman Polanski’s personal life, this 1965 masterpiece has taken on a bit of a queasy quality: Catherine Deneuve’s character contends with jarring depictions and implications of sexual assault throughout. Nevertheless, Polanski is a visionary, and this black-and-white knockout is as gorgeous as it is haunting, with loads of credit due to cinematographer Gilbert Taylor. As the lines between nightmares and realities blur, Deneuve’s depiction of a serial killer losing her mind is timeless. Unlike so many other horror films, “Repulsion” makes normal household items — mirrors, razor blades, rugs — horrific and otherworldly.

 

4. “Don’t Look Now” (1973)

Horror is often born of grief. Few films remind us of that fact quite like “Don’t Look Now,” Nicolas Roeg’s devastating adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s short story of the same name. Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland star as a married couple who suffer an unfathomable loss and find that their nightmare is just beginning. Nearly as controversial as “The Devils” and no less unsettling, this is one for the ages.

 

3. “Peeping Tom” (1960)

One of the blueprints of the modern slasher, “Peeping Tom” was so controversial upon its theatrical release that it effectively ended director Michael Powell’s career. The shock that greeted it was understandable — the film follows a serial killer who records his victims’ torturous last moments — as is the fact that “Peeping Tom” was gradually reclaimed as both a cult classic and a masterpiece unto itself.

 

2. “The Wicker Man” (1973)

If you’ve only seen the campy remake starring Nicolas Cage and have written off the original as a result, forget about your damn honey and treat yourself to the real deal. We’re warned that “shocks are so much better absorbed with the knees bent,” but nothing will quite prepare you for the off-kilter oddity of this Scottish island or the ritualistic secrets it holds.

 

1. “The Innocents” (1961)

Jack Clayton’s adaptation of “The Turn of the Screw” is one of the moodiest, most atmospheric horror films ever made. Led by a haunting — and haunted — performance by Deborah Kerr, it’s also a tonic for anyone who loves horror but can’t abide by jump scares and other cheap tricks. Truman Capote co-wrote the screenplay, which oozes slow-burning tension and keeps us guessing as it gestures toward the supernatural.

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