I’d like to introduce you to an early example of psychological horror, titled Vargtimmen a.k.a., The Hour of the Wolf.

 

A paragon of art house cinema from the masterful Ingmar Bergman, the film stars Liv Ullman (known for Persona) and the legendary Max von Sydow (Seventh Seal, Game of Thrones, The Exorcist). It tells the tale of a painter, Johan, who has moved with his wife Alma to a secluded island in hopes of finding inspiration and peace to help with his work.

 

However, as Johan’s insomnia grows, he begins to have encounters with strange beings who at first appear human, but prove to be something much more sinister. Alma at first doubts her husband’s sanity, attributing these creatures and the horrific incidents he describes to madness, but she is compelled to re-examine her beliefs when Johan goes missing.

Told via flashbacks as Alma relays her experience and events described in Johan’s diary, Vargtimmen is a horror film truly like no other. It is a slow burn, building up a sense of paranoia and disquiet as the viewer attempts to discern delusion from reality, in hopes of unraveling the mysterious phenomena surrounding Johan’s disappearance. Ullman’s performance is riveting, and Von Sydow delivers a fascinating portrayal of a man falling into the throes of madness.

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