Midsommar director Ari Aster names his top five favourite horror films

Ari Aster and Stephen King's Carrie
(Image credit: Robin L Marshall/FilmMagic, Red Bank Films)

Director Ari Aster's new film Beau Is Afraid is set to hit the big screen on May 19. The movie, starring The Joker's Joaquin Phoenix, follows the journey of an anxiety-ridden man who must confront his darkest fears while embarking on a surreal odyssey to get home to his mother.

Beau Is Afraid is the latest project by lauded horror director Aster to be distributed via entertainment company A24, following on from his highly successful movies Midsommar (2019) and Hereditary (2018), the latter of which served as his critically-acclaimed debut. 

While in discussion with A.Frame, Aster revealed his own top five favourite horror films, which consist of more obscure pieces as well as beloved cult classics. 

He explains, "there are so many films that I desperately wanted to include — Rosemary's BabyAlienPsychoThe ShiningThe InnocentsLast Year at Marienbad, pretty much every film by [David] Lynch and [David] Cronenberg — but I was asked to choose five and these reflect my present mood".

His top choice is 1964's Kwaidan, which he describes as possibly being "the most breathtakingly beautiful horror film ever made", adding that "it's ethereal and haunting and possessed of a totally devouring commitment to artifice." He also shares love for other Japanese horrors such as Onibaba, Ugetsu and The Face of Another to Cure.

For his next pick, Aster selects 1981's Possession, noting it to be "one of the great movies about divorce and the agony of romantic disentanglement." 

The director's other choices include 1955's The Night Of The Hunter, 1973's Don't Look Now and the 1976 movie adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie, which he hails as "the film that traumatized me the most as a kid."

"It took me 15 years to come back to it," he says, "and when I finally summoned the courage, I was shocked to realize how campy it was (I shouldn't have been surprised, given what I knew/loved about De Palma).

"As with any great horror movie, its cruelty feels unfathomable and its images are potentially life-ruining (Piper Laurie with the knife???), but it's also distinguished by a profound sense of empathy and sadness. Poor Carrie."

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.