Have you ever wondered what a Quentin Tarantino blood-and-guts slasher flick would look like, or the skin-crawling eeriness which would emit from a psychological thriller from Wes Anderson? Sadly, many of the greatest filmmakers tend to avoid making horror movies despite showing they have the skill set and the innovation to excel in what is one of the most challenging genres to master.
However, the horror genre – and, more importantly, the perception of it – has changed dramatically over the past decade. Ripe with social commentary, thematic resonance, and phenomenal stories that aren’t afraid to hit hard, horror is not only one of the most intriguing genres in modern cinema, but one of the most daring and innovative as well. With all this in mind, these are some of Hollywood’s current greats who we think could scare the living daylights out of us if they turned their talents to horror.
Ever since he burst onto the scene in the early 90s, Quentin Tarantino has been one of Hollywood’s hottest filmmakers with his films regarded as much-see pictures by film fanatics and casual moviegoers alike. Across his career, he’s displayed significant interest in horror classics, with both Reservoir Dogs and The Hateful Eight being heavily inspired by John Carpenter’s The Thing.
With his knack for intriguing characters, palpable suspense, and moments of abrupt and extreme violence, Tarantino has already exhibited proficiency in many core components of horror filmmaking. Who wouldn’t love to see what the director could accomplish if he made a slasher gore-fest packed with enough tension and violence to leave us all in a state of shock?
An icon of blockbuster filmmaking, Christopher Nolan has gone from strength to strength throughout his career due to his dedication to practical effects, gripping stories, and for being one of the most innovative directors of the 2000s. Within the wheelhouse of blockbuster epics, he’s tackled numerous genres with aplomb, including the superhero genre which he re-invented with The Dark Knight Trilogy (a series that showcased plenty of horror imagery).
Naturally, we’d love to see what he could do if he ever took charge of a horror movie. Whether it was a practical effects-driven monster movie, or a mind-bending psychological horror (or maybe a bit of both), it would be essential viewing for all movie lovers and a fascinating contribution to the current horror movie boom.
From biographical comedies to crime dramas, historical epics, musicals, and even a children’s movie, there are few genres Martin Scorsese is yet to tackle. While he’s made several haunting psychological thrillers, he’s yet to embark on an outright horror, a fact which is all the more tragic when you see his fascinating views on Ti West’s recent horror movie Pearl.
Not only does he have an incredible understanding of filmmaking, how audiences respond to certain prompts, and horror films themselves, but he is also one of the best directors when it comes to capturing violence on screen. We would be watching through our fingers if the Hollywood titan ever did embark on a horror film, no matter the subgenre.
You need only have a look at Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning Roma, or his criminally underrated sci-fi Children of Men, to see the incredible attention to detail he has within his films. The dedication which fills every frame of his pictures makes for an engrossing, immersive experience that would flawlessly translate into a horror story.
In actual fact, Cuarón has dabbled in horror before, directing six episodes of the Mexican sci-fi horror anthology series Hora Marcadaearly in his career. Needless to say, he has come a long way since then but seeing him return to horror with a character-focused, contemplative film would be exciting.
With Lady Bird her first feature as a solo director in 2017, Greta Gerwig’s directorial career might not be as long as others, but it is no less impressive. With a background as an actor, she’s proven herself with her ability to draw out astonishing performances from her stars while also touching on a range of societal issues with subtlety and poise.
With such films as The Invisible Man, Midsommar, and the Xseriesdominating the horror market in recent years, the genre is as socially alert as it ever has been with some of the modern day’s best actresses shining in leading roles. In this modern age of female-led horror, Gerwig’s talents behind the camera could make for one of the best horror movies ever seen.
With just six feature films in his career which started with 2005’s Brick, Rian Johnson has been nothing if not selective when it comes to choosing his next project. But with Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and the budding Knives Out series among his achievements, it’s apparent that he’s a smart director with a gift for deconstructing and subverting genre tropes.
Given he’s shown proficiency in blockbuster spectacles as well as grittier thrillers (not to mention what he accomplished when at the helm of Breaking Bad), it would be interesting to see what Johnson would conjure in the realm of horror. Sadly, we won’t get the chance to see it anytime soon with his schedule pretty busy with his upcoming Poker Face television series as well as a third Knives Out movie set to release in 2024.
With Blade Runner 2049 and Dune as his two most recent films, it seems there is nothing Denis Villeneuve can’t conquer. While he’s always maintained a dramatic base to his stories, he’s earned acclaim with thrillers, crime, war movies, and most recently has settled as one of the best sci-fi filmmakers ever to be seen, but he’s never tackled horror.
With the vast scope, he’s shown he can achieve as well as his talent for building suspense – as seen in Sicario – horror would seem a natural fit for the French-Canadian director. With the tortured characters he focuses on and the visual grandeur he seems to achieve so effortlessly, a psychological horror from Villeneuve would likely be as stunning as it would be scary.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson stands as a true auteur of the modern day, with a filmography that ranges from Boogie Nights to Punch-Drunk Love to There Will Be Blood and culminates with recent releases of Phantom Thread and Licorice Pizza. His evident fascination with deeply flawed characters from all walks of life would make for a great ensemble in horror.
With brilliant and raw stories of human relationships, his style would complement a grounded, concentrated psychological horror nicely. And we can’t forget his brilliant ability at executing sudden yet shocking violence which would work a treat in horror as well.
Much like David Fincher himself has tried to do many times, we’re going to disregard Alien 3 here and focus on the rest of the director’s accomplished career, which took off in 1995 with the crime-thriller classic Seven. Ever since then Fincher has been a mainstay of psychological thrillers, often blending with crime drama in such instances as Zodiac, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl.
While he’s yet to make the leap to outright horror, he’s never had any issue making audiences feel chills. With his bleak settings, meticulous eye for detail, interest in human psychology, and what he was able to achieve with that basement scene from Zodiac, a horror movie from Fincher would probably leave us sleeping with the light on for weeks.
It’s tough to think of a more unique and idiosyncratic filmmaker than Wes Anderson. The auteur has dedicated his talents to comedy movies to this point in his career, though he has shown glimpses of being able to handle more dramatic beats and often infuses his films with beautiful and sincere romantic plots.
However, some of his more stylish movies have occupied a surreal quirkiness that has only felt a small lead away from working as an eerie horror tale. With a change of tone and a more mysterious story the offbeat characters, meticulous visuals, and all-star casts could make for a truly spine-tingling psychological horror.