Six films that explore the horror of grief and trauma

A scene from CENSOR, a Magnet release. © CPL/SSF. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing.
A scene from CENSOR, a Magnet release. © CPL/SSF. Photo courtesy of Magnet Releasing. /
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Grief and trauma
Photo: The Haunting of Hill House.. Courtesy Steve Dietl/Netflix /

No doubt about it, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a good ol’ slasher flick. But, nothing gets under the skin like the very real themes of grief and trauma, something that has increasingly begun to influence horror films over the past few years.

Mike Flanagan and Ari Aster know that this is a true statement, and their projects stand out as poster children for grief and trauma inspired horror. Sure, some people think Hereditary is “boring”, but I don’t think that’s true. It’s an uncomfortable storyline, dealing with the horrific death of a child and the grief and trauma it inflicts on the remaining family members. That’s not a fun theme to explore, so I think a lot of people just can’t deal.

In reality, ANYONE would be living real life horror if they had to deal with what poor Annie (Toni Collette) had to face. And let’s just recognize the sheer magnificence of Collette’s performance in Hereditary, I have never felt so much like I was in someone else’s skin than I did while watching that film.

Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House series explored the effects of grief and trauma on each surviving member of the Crain family: Hugh Crain and his five children. Each of them struggled throughout their lives, thanks to living for a short time in the crazy haunted Hill House. Of course, the loss of Olivia Crane in such a horrible way played its part in their personal struggles as well.

So, now let’s look at some more horror films that used grief and trauma to not only frighten us, but also break our hearts.