Directors like James Wan, Mike Flanagan, Wes Craven, and John Carpenter have built their careers around the horror genre. But some of the best horror films in history like The Exorcist, The Shining, Alien, and Carrie didn’t come from directors whose careers revolved around scary movies.
Most recently, Jordan Peele, John Krasinski, and David Gordon Green made the leap to horror from comedy, and have garnered huge success with Get Out, A Quiet Place, and Halloween (2018). This got us to thinking about what other non-horror directors could make absolutely killer horror films.
1. Denis Villeneuve
Villeneuve has surgical precision with every aspect of his films, and he’s able to seamlessly move between genres with ease. Films like Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049 show he’s a master of atmosphere and suspense, which is what horror is all about. He has said in a roundtable interview with THR that his favorite film is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it shows in his mesmerizing, hypnotic style. A horror movie from Villeneuve could potentially transcend the genre the same way Kubrick’s The Shining did.
2. Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino’s films are already bursting with horror elements, such as ridiculously over-the-top gore, palpable suspense, and unsavory characters. He’s always flirting with the genre, but never fully diving into it. The legendary director has already tackled crime thrillers, westerns, martial arts, and war films. It would be a shame to never see a full-fledged horror entry from him if he makes good on his romantic promise to be done after his 10th film. Tarantino teased his desire to do a “really, really scary horror film” in the vein of The Exorcist back in 2016, so he may only have one more chance to do so after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
3. Jeong-beom Lee
If you are unfamiliar with Jeong-beom Lee’s work, the writer director is known for the criminally underrated, gritty action/thrillers The Man From Nowhere and No Tears for the Dead (Both which I highly recommend). Audiences ate up Sang-ho Yeon’s adrenaline-packed zombie ride Train to Busan, and Jeong-beom Lee is equally as talented in delivering heart-stopping action without neglecting the drama. A bloody, hard-hitting horror flick from Lee would be a thing of beauty.
4. Cary Joji Fukunaga
After Fukunaga cut ties with 2017’s IT adaptation, fans have wondered ever since what could have been. Give Fukunaga a horror movie he has full creative control over so we can see what the True Detective Season 1 director can do. He now has an established relationship with Netflix, who tend to allow a lot more creative freedom to filmmakers than Hollywood. An original horror movie by Fukunaga would be right at home on the streaming service with hit films like Gerald’s Game, Apostle, Cargo, and The Ritual.