Rahul is a movie addict who can never get enough of good films. His all time favorites are Inception, 12 Angry Men, and Scarface.
What Films Are Like Suspiria?
Witches. We’ve always been scared of them.
Oh, sure we’ve had some good ones like Glinda and Sabrina over the years, but it wasn’t until Harry Potter that we began to fully trust them or even want to be like them. And for very good reason. Portrayed as malevolent, spiteful, and sometimes child-eating servants of the dark lord, witches have not been exactly what you would call role model material.
A perfect example of witch representation over the year is Suspiria, a film every bit as horrifying as its predecessor. So, after finally coming out from under my bed and armed with several religious artifacts, I decided to take a walkthrough of film history to take a look at witch representation throughout the years. Here are 10 bewitching movies like Suspiria that'll have you under their spell.
Films Like Suspiria
- The Witch (2015)
- The Craft (1996)
- The Blair Witch Project (1999)
- Haxan (1922)
- Bell, Book and Candle (1958)
- Hocus Pocus (1993)
- Practical Magic (1998)
- The Conjuring (2013)
- Black Sunday (1960)
- Witches of Eastwick (1987)
1. The Witch (2015)
Very few recent cinematic offerings of the occult will scare you the way The Witch does, and that’s saying a lot, considering there’s little to no use of the usual jump scares, bloodied bodies, and contorted faces.
The story takes place in 1620 New England where a family, banished from their community because of their father’s vehement opposition to its rules, makes their way into the wilderness and settles into their new life in an unexplored forest.
Things are expectedly hard on the family, but hard quickly turns into terror when strange things begin to happen, especially involving the children. The film evokes memories of the Salem Witch Trials from years past and brings that dark history to the screen.
What the movie lacks in the usual horror tropes, it more than makes up for with the suspense and tension, which writer and director Robert Eggers pulls off masterfully. Exploring the dark sides of lust, defiance, parenting, and religious belief, The Witch is a worthy addition to the collection of screen witches. It will entertain you, scare you, and if nothing at all, make you very cautious about staring at goats.
The Witch is available for streaming on Netflix.
2. The Craft (1996)
The Craft starts off as a very light teen movie about sorority sisters and high school living and quickly devolves into a very disturbing turn of events. The film follows the story of four girls at a Los Angeles Catholic school, all with turbulent histories.
Discovering that the new girl that has just transferred has telekinetic abilities, three girls who are looking to form a coven initiate her into their circle. With the coven formed, they begin to dabble in witchcraft, casting spells on their classmates and each other in the name of popularity and petty revenge.
Things start to take a very dark twist when drunk off their newfound powers, they begin to perform even more dangerous spells on others and eventually, an all-out fight between themselves to gain control.
The film has aged quite well, turning into something of a cult classic, especially amongst teen film lovers. Maybe what makes the film so good is the fact that the actresses used actual Wiccan rituals in addition to the protagonist, who is played by Fairuza Balk, being an actual Wiccan in real life. As the eight highest grossing film about witches since 1980, The Craft is definitely one you should watch if you haven’t already.
The Craft is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store. If you're looking for movies like Suspiria, The Craft should be right up your alley.
3. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Don’t let anyone fool you. You don’t need to see witches to be scared witless by them. The cult classic The Blair Witch Project is a testament to that fact.
Maybe, what makes this movie so terrifying is the interview-documentary style in which it’s shot, making everything seem much more real. The film leads with the premise that what the viewer is watching is not a film, but found footage from a group of three film students who have disappeared.
This footage documents the journey of these film students as they enter a small town to find out more and possibly document the fabled “Blair Witch", a mythical local murderer. Most of the footage shows the students as they interview the people in this small sleepy town in an attempt to get to the bottom of the story.
Throughout the course of the filming, it is clear some of the townsfolk are not pleased with what is clearly three doubting students and their curiosity into something they know and believe to be sinister. It’s not too soon when the students change their tune as they lose their way in the local forest and begin to see, hear, and experience a strange number of things.
Happy-go-lucky quickly turns into dark and dangerous with The Blair Witch Project. This film has gone on to become a cult classic and its “found footage” premise has gone on to spawn several other films such as the iconic Paranormal Activity and Cloverfield.
If you’re not scared by the supernatural powered by a very large dose of realism, give The Blair Witch Project a shot, if you dare.
4. Häxan (1922)
You don’t walk into a silent film expecting to be frightened to bits. After all, if we’ve learned anything from this list, terror tends to go hand in hand with the accompanying sounds. Get ready to have that illusion shattered by Häxan.
This Swedish silent film directed by Benjamin Christensen plays the dual role of a historical documentary and a horror drama fantasy, exploring the history of Satanism, witchcraft, and demonology. Based on the 15th century Malleus Maleficarum used by religious inquisitors to oppress women and people, this horror documentary showcases the real-life witch trials of the times and the gruesome tortures they had to endure.
So jarring were these scenes that the film was banned in the U.S. The grainy black and white texture of the film also adds to the horrific spectacle of Häxan, further accentuated with scenes of nudity and repulsive demons with long flickering tongues. The volume might not be on for this one, but you definitely don’t want to watch this by yourself and, especially not with children. Häxan is available for purchase on Amazon Prime and iTunes.
5. Bell, Book and Candle (1958)
One of the older entries on this list, Bell, Book and Candle is another entry that reminds us that witches need love too. This 1958 film tells the story of Gillian Holroyd, played by the incomparable Kim Novak, a modern-day witch living in New York with her Siamese familiar (for the unacquainted, that means her cat).
Life is going as it should until she happens upon a handsome publisher who she falls head over heels for. She decides then that she must have him and decides to cast a love spell on him. Twisted, yes, but it helps to assuage her conscience that her newfound love was engaged to marry her old rival from school.
The thing is, what started out as a subtle power trip and superficial love soon becomes all too real for Gillian, which is not good news. Why? Because the moment she actually falls in love, she will lose all her powers. This delightful fantasy romance is essentially a love story with a supernatural plot and shows that there is something scarier than toads, snakes, and slimy things that even witches fear; and it’s called love.
If you're looking for some mind-numbing features like Suspiria, Bell, Book and Candle should be right up your alley.
6. Hocus Pocus (1993)
There are some films that become synonymous to certain holidays. Just as you can’t imagine a Christmas without Home Alone, there’s no Halloween without Hocus Pocus. The story follows Max who after moving with his family into Salem, goes about exploring an abandoned house with a dark story along with his sister and the girl he has a crush on.
Big mistake, as Max unwittingly resurrects three witch sisters whose only goal is to suck dry the souls of all the children in Salem. It is surprising to note that Hocus Pocus, originally released by Disney was actually a box office disaster when it was premiered, but has gone on to become a cult classic inadvertently tied in with the Halloween season.
A little bit of magic there perhaps? Maybe. Either way, I'm glad this holiday favorite has survived the ages and continues to usher in the spirit of Halloween. Hocus Pocus is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
7. Practical Magic (1998)
Not all films about witchcraft are designed to shock and scare. Some surprisingly teach poignant life lessons that have us leaving much wiser than we came in. Without a doubt, Practical Magic is one of those films. Starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, this comedic romantic fantasy tells the story of two orphaned witch sisters who must navigate through the murky waters of life and love.
The two try to live a normal life and avoid using magic as much as possible despite being raised by their aunts who taught them all the things magic could be used for. However, when the boyfriend of one of the sisters dies unexpectedly due to a family curse, the two try to resurrect him with disastrous consequences.
Practical Magic is funny and quirky, but what sells this film the most is the acting of these two Hollywood mainstays. Their onscreen synergy so amazing, you’re almost left believing these two can’t be anything else but sisters. Practical Magic, unlike most films on this list, is light-hearted, warm, and good clean fun for the whole family.
If you’re looking for a sunnier side of the dark arts, this movie is definitely it. Practical Magic is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
8. The Conjuring (2013)
The last few entries have been fun films. The Conjuring is not a fun film, especially when you discover that the movie is based on actual real-life events. The Conjuring, the first installment of its subsequent franchise, is set in 1970 and begins when a pair of paranormal investigators are called into a family home to investigate some very disturbing occurrences. The family, which includes five daughters, having recently moved into a secluded farmhouse, notice the presence of a supernatural force.
Why anyone would move a family into a secluded farmhouse in the middle of nowhere is the question you quickly shelve when things turn from mildly disturbing to downright horrifying. Without giving too much of the plot away, think witch-meets-ghost-meets-child murder in the name of Satan.
Like I said, not a fun film. It is, however, a great watch, grossing over $300 million and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 85%. If you’re looking for a film like Suspiria that can unsettle you and reaffirm your fear in the macabre and supernatural, The Conjuring will definitely leave you spellbound. All puns intended.
The Conjuring is available for streaming on Netflix.
9. Black Sunday (1960)
There are two things we’ve learned about watching witches in the past, one; you don’t ever want to upset a witch to the point of her swearing an oath and the second, to always make sure you gag them before you set them on fire. Failing to do that means there’s always a chance they could shoot off a final incantation or curse on all their offenders, and that is exactly what Black Sunday builds its premise on.
While being burnt at the stake after being condemned by her own brother, a witch (who also happens to be a vampire) swears to return and seek revenge on her descendants. Pretty sure you know where this is going, and you’re right. It might have taken two hundred years, but she finally returns and along with her fiendish undead servant, begins her murderous rampage.
Also known as The Mask of Satan, this critically acclaimed classic of the horror genre, so generously yet shockingly brought to the screen by Italian director Mario Bava on his directorial debut, was so filled with such horror and gore that it was banned in some countries and featured heavily censored scenes in others.
This didn’t stop the film from becoming one of the most iconic movies of the genre, having one of its scenes voted as one of the “100 Scariest Movie Moments” of all time. For any fan of the horror genre, Black Sunday should be right up there on their watchlist. Black Sunday is available for purchase on Amazon Prime.
10. Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Witches more often than not are depicted as long-nosed, wart-faced, crones who live in isolation and cause all manner of supernatural mayhem like disease and pestilence. The Witches of Eastwick is widely accepted as the first to introduce us to a new kind of witch; the type with sex appeal.
Starring the star-studded cast of Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Cher, The Witches of Eastwick follows the story of three friends who each after losing a man in their lives are left feeling empty and unfulfilled until a surreptitious stranger waltzes into town. Played by the immortal Jack Nicholson, the stranger begins to stir up the hornet’s nest when he buys the largest property in town and subsequently begins to seduce each of the three women.
Everything is going swimmingly as the three begin to spend more time with him on his property, learning about their powers and living in decadence, but the more they stay, the more they begin to suspect the enigmatic stranger’s motives may be a lot more sinister than he lets on.
The fact that this film by George Miller is an adaptation of a book by the same name doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. With a slew of strong performers, it’s no wonder The Witches of Eastwick became the standard by which all modern witches of cinema measure themselves. Witches of Eastwick is available for purchase on iTunes and the Google Play store.
Did I miss out on any other movies like Suspiria? Let me know in the comments section.