Horror filmmaking is an art-form that some directors, voluntarily or involuntarily, have yet to explore. Some contemporary directors such as Adam Wingard, Mike Flannigan, Andy Muschietti, and James Wan have already become modern masters of horror. But what about the inverse of that? What about filmmakers that everyone loves, who’ve never even dared to touch the genre? Each filmmaker below is celebrated, critically and financially and could easily be argued as one of the greatest filmmakers working today. They’ve accomplished so much but have yet to dip their toes into the medium that brought you here today. Let’s take a look at Ten Directors Who Haven’t Made a Horror Film, But Need To.
Damien Chazelle: Whiplash (2014), La La Land (2016), First Man (2018)
Damien Chazelle is one of the freshest faces on the auteur scene. His breakthrough, Whiplash, wasn’t a horror picture, despite being one of the most upsetting films of 2016. Chazelle is known for getting the finest performances from his actors/actresses, garnering three Oscar acting nominations through his three films (more than likely 5 if Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy get nominations). Powerful performances are something horror often lacks, yet are pretty incredible when included (just look at Hereditary).
Now that Get Out broke into the awards scene, maybe Chazelle will realize you can make horror and be an Oscar darling at the same time. He doesn’t have a next film slated to direct, but at just 33, we can assume he has all the time in the world to tackle a more, sinister, project.
Ava DuVernay: Middle of Nowhere(2012), Selma(2014), A Wrinkle in Time(2018)
For those of you who never saw DuVernay’s Selma; first off, how dare you? Second off, there’s a scene that takes place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that shows a group of non-violent black protestors trying to march and then being viciously attacked by a group of local police. The scene is as dark, upsetting, malicious, and tense as anything seen in recent horror.
DuVernay may have made a middling Disney flick last, but it’s common knowledge that she knows how to direct not just a horrific scene, but an emotional one as well. Her next film is an adaptation of the DC comic, The New Gods. That scene in Selma may hold us over for now, but we’re not giving up hope that the filmmaker/activist can bring something refreshing and poignant to the genre.
Cary Fukunaga: Jane Eyre(2011), True Detective: Season 1 (2014), Beasts of No Nation (2015)
Cary Fukunaga gained traction with his eight-episode anthology, True Detective, which is currently contended as one of the best seasons of television, ever. The director knows his way behind the camera and can bring the suspense, shown similarly in Beasts of No Nation.
Fukunaga is no stranger to horror; he co-wrote the screenplay for It (2017) which sits as the number one most successful R-rated horror film of all time, and was at one time slated to direct the Stephen King adaptation. Bond 25 is the director’s next gig (which will surely take up a chunk of his time) but if it’s as lucrative as everyone expects, the director will have open field for his next venture, and a horror film could absolutely be in the cards.
Spike Jonze: Being John Malkovich (1999), Where the Wild Things Are (2009), Her (2013)
Spike Jonze is a great filmmaker, just not very fruitful when it comes to directing features. The director has made four films in an almost 20-year span, but each one is just as unique and intriguing as the last. As great as his directing may be, his writing is even more creative and that ingenuity brought to a horror film would be something special.
Orthodox is one thing Jonze is not and some of the most rewarding horror flicks break the rules. Jonze has been keeping himself employed directing music videos for seemingly every artist out there, but in this new R-rated “Stephen-King-assance” there’s surely a novel that could catch the filmmakers, and our, eye.
Rian Johnson: Brick (2005), Looper (2012), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Rian Johnson is currently one of the most polorizing directors between those who think he made the greatest Star Wars film to date and others who feel he destroyed their childhood. What almost everyone can agree on is that he is a master filmmaker. The art of making a horror film is to have a vision, stick to it, and deliver on it; Johnson knows how to deliver his vision.
Looper is a gritty and dirty look at sci-fi while Brick brings that same grime to high school drugs; just thinking of what he could do when focusing on not just entertaining, but terrifying, is quite exciting. Next up for Johnson is Knives Out, a classic murder mystery; it’s not exactly horror, but we’ll take it!
Paul Thomas Anderson: Boogie Nights (1997), There Will Be Blood (1998), The Master(2012)
Many call Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA) the greatest working director. But since his magnum opus, There Will Be Blood, was released more than a decade ago, the director has lost his touch a bit. What better way to get back in the favor with fans and audiences than to helm a beautiful and complex horror film.
The man obviously has the talent and lavish to bring something in the vein of Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) or Michael Haneke (Funny Games), that’s if the director truly wants to craft something of this sort. Director Lenny Abrahamson (What Richard Did, Room) took a stab at horror (no pun intended) and crafted an overly-pretentious film in The Little Stranger. We’d love if PTA went into horror, just as long as he showed restraint when necessary and left his prestige at the door.
Kathryn Bigelow: The Hurt Locker (2008), Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Detroit (2017)
Screen Craft has an article detailing The Eight Ways Horror Movies Scare the S**t Out of Audiences. One of those ways is called, “The Anticipation;” anyone who saw Bigelow’s 2008 best picture winner, The Hurt Locker, knows that anticipation can be downright terrifying. People often pit suspense and horror against each other, but a filmmaker like Bigelow could surely assimilate the two.
Bigelow has of late taken an interest in raw and real action-dramas, but what if she took her years of skill and craft and put it too something a bit more frightening? There’s hundreds of horror films that mimic reality and bringing a sense of levelheadedness and practicality to one could produce a shocking concoction.
Ryan Coogler: Fruitvale Station (2013), Creed (2015), Black Panther (2018)
Ryan Coogler may only have 3 features to his name, but they’re some great films to have under one’s belt. Fruitvale Station showed his ability to conjure emotion, Creed demonstrated his ability to explore the craft, and Black Panther his ability to command a massive set/film. Though he lately has dealt with major studio pictures and most horror films are usually smaller budgets, he knows how to craft a damn fine film regardless of the recources.
Much like DuVernay, Coogler showed in Fruitvale Station that he knows how to show the horror of real life. Not all horror has to be ghosts and ghouls; Coogler given a script reminiscent to Halloween, Green Room, or The Last House on the Left could effortlessly deliver an instant classic.
Christopher Nolan: Memento (2000), The Dark Knight (2008), Dunkirk (2017)
There’s not much to say about Christopher Nolan that already hasn’t been said, so I’m going to focus on two men who seem to come with him: writer Jonathan Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema. Jonathan Nolan has written most of Nolan’s scripts (at least, the best of them) and heads HBO’s Westworld; the man knows how to write a clever screenplay and if given reign to put in some horrific elements, could scribe something quite harrowing.
Van Hoytma has shot Nolan’s last two films (Interstellar and Dunkirk) and has an eye that could rival veteran cinematographers Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men) and Roger Deakins (Blade Runner 2049). Let him throw some disturbing images into frame and Hoytma could bring the shrieks. The trio don’t have anything on the docket for the future, though Hoytma is shooting the Brad Pitt starring sci-fi drama, Ad Astra, coming to screens this year.
Denis Villeneuve: Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015), Arrival(2016)
He’s already made film’s about child kidnappers, giant spiders, violent cartels, aliens, and robots; seems like Villeneuve should just make a horror film already. The Canadian born filmmaker is the hottest on the scene and has yet to make a bad film (his lowest rated film on Rotten Tomatoes is Enemy with a 72%). Prisoners and Sicario have some truly unforgettable scenes, in both content and aesthetics; if the level of passion and genius he put into those he brought to a horror flick it could redefine the genre.
Villeneuve’s next film, a remake of Dune, may please some genre fans, but a true horror film from (perhaps) the greatest working director should be a wish that every horror-geek possesses.
Which director would you be most excited to see a horror film from? Let us know in the comments!