5 scary movies with interior design that thrills your spine


Hulton Archives / Getty Images

Frightening structures have occupied the popular imagination since the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1851 novel The house of seven sprockets, for example, added notoriety to this already famous period, strongly referencing the 17th century home of Massachusetts settler Captain John Turner (it doesn’t matter if the house actually has three gables, seven had a better ring) . For Hawthorne, the house was a living, breathing thing – it told the story of its falsely accused former inhabitants and those who subsequently seized the property. The Gothic novel was suitably dark, with a depressed protagonist in a dilapidated house. The horror genre only grew from there, spawning hundreds of stunning novels, movies, and TV shows, all featuring equally spooky architecture. There isn’t a single stylistic thread that connects these gruesome homes, but we find their great visual variety – and more often than not, their banality – excruciatingly fascinating. Below are five of our favorites.

Nosferatu (1922)

german actor max schreck 1879 1936, as vampire earl orlok, destroyed by sunlight, in a still image from the expressionist horror film fw murnaus, nosferatu, eine symphonie des grauens, 1921 the film is based on the novel by bram stokers dracula and released in 1922 photo by hulton archivegetty images

Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images

FW Murnau’s Nosferatu is one of the earliest examples of “horrified” architecture in cinema. The film was made just 30 years after Bram Stoker’s. Dracula hit the shelves and owes a lot to the author’s invention; silent and shot in black and white, he relies on anticipation and special effects to keep his audience spellbound. At the root of the fear of the big screen was a simple, desolate interior, full of crumbling corners and ominous shadows. Abandoned salt lofts (“salzspeicher”) built between the 16th and 18th centuries served as the backdrop for Earl Orlock’s home, and their disused condition gave value to what was already one of the darkest films.

Suspiria (1977)

scenography by Suspiria

Wikimedia Commons

Witchcraft soared a century after Hawthorne’s novel in Dario Argento’s 1977 horror film Suspirie. The film may seem rather kitschy to modern eyes, but by the time of its release the plot elicited some screams, while the setting had a chic and eerie tone and perhaps looked more like Diana Vreeland. hell themed living room. Argento used Art Nouveau elements, geometric floor patterns like stylized pentagrams, faux wall panels, and MC Escher-inspired murals that played with perspective; strangely enough, he also counted “Red snow whiteAmong his main inspirations. He hired cinematographer Luciano Tovoli to help bring his vision to life, and together they pulled from the 1937 Walt Disney version of that fairy tale to draw the right tones of blood red in the film. .

Suspiria (2018)

tilda swinton as madame white in Suspiria

Alessio Bolzoni / Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Director Luca Guadagnino turned to more modern references in his 2018 remake of Suspiria, using Bauhaus graphics, interiors by Adolf Loos and furniture by Josef Hoffmann. The hues in his film are perhaps more muted but have an equally frightening effect – just imagine turning a corner, with an ax murderer chasing him, and rushing into Le Corbusier’s LC4 lounge chair. Production designer Inbal Weinberg has kept the geographically tight references, deploying the work of Austrian designers as a source of inspiration in a film set in 1977 in Berlin, before the fall of the wall. The effect is cold but sumptuous, deceptive in its use of moiré silks and Sputnik chandeliers, which was enough to undoubtedly attract an unsuspecting ballet student.

beetle juice (1988)

beetlejuice postmodern house exterior

Warner Bros.

Postmodern architecture had its own moment in Tim Burton’s 1988 Beetle juice, the story of an exuberant poltergeist who insists on scaring away the new owners of a quaint old mansion. A true interior designer, Otho, plans to redecorate and modernize the house, which was previously fitted with grandfather clocks and carpeted walls, but now becomes a Modernist masterpiece with protruding exterior walls, yellow accents and cubic windows. A brutalist fireplace replaces the wood and tiled fireplace, while a table slab worthy of the Flintstones invests the dining room. Primary colors dominate the rest of the house, particularly the kitchen, which is wrapped in a distinct Hockney Blue.

Hocus pocus (1993)

sleight of hand


Bring it all back to your friendly suburban neighborhood, Kenny Ortega’s Hocus pocus crawled under the covers in our own childhood beds. When teenage protagonist Max Dennison reads the spellbook that brings the Sanderson sisters back to Salem, he stands in a stylized old Colonial, complete with cobwebs, candle wax, and a snarling black cat. The house in which the mischievous witch sisters later kidnap her little sister is every ’90s kid’s dream home: white wood, windows everywhere, and a turret perched high up, perfect for a quick visit to the back of a broom. Hocus pocus perhaps in a more familiar setting than most Halloween-themed movies, but it’s up to the viewer to decide whether this particular version of nostalgia calms or excites nerves.

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