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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

The Best Horror Films with Dance Scenes

Abigail (2024) is part escape room, part supernatural, part comedy, part dance film, and so much more that I don’t want to spoil. Overall it's an excellent film that inspired me to reflect on some of the best uses of dance in horror.

In honor of Abigail, here are some of the best horror films with dance scenes.

A bloody ballerina

Abigail (2024) Abigail stars Alisha Weir as a young 12-year old ballerina. Dance and horror intersect in the best possible way in this movie; during the grittiest and bloodiest moments. 

a group of dancers

Climax (2018) One of my favorite uses of dance in film, Climax creates an overwhelming scene of chaos, disorder, rhythm and color. It was one of the favorite theater experiences when it first was released, and remains a masterpiece in my opinion. Written and directed by Gasper Noé, Climax will seduce you and then betray you. 

A distressed woman dances

Suspiria (1977) The iconic example of a horror dance film, the original Suspiria is a trippy, freaky journey right into harm’s way. Written and directed by Dario Argento, Suspria still remains an unrivaled classic. 

A group of dancers in red

Suspiria (2018) Starring Dakota Johnson, the remakes use of body horror and visual effects during a main dance sequence is unreal. Though the finale is what really won me over. 

a man and a woman dance the disco

Ex Machina (2014) Though Ex Machina is obviously not a dance film, and only barely a horror film, I still have love for its strange little dance sequence. The scene is so absurd, and at the same time makes so much sense for the characters. It throws the audience for a loop but only for a moment, before we start to put the larger puzzle together. Who knew that A.I. horror would intersect with dance horror?

a young girl dances

The Sacrifice Game (2023) Jenn Wexler’s The Sacrifice Game was one of the best horror films of last year. In a lot of ways, the film has similarities with Abigail. Though I will let you uncover those on your own. The dance sequence in Sacrifice Game stands out to me. The use of movement is unsettling and endearing at the same time. 

a ballerina in black

Black Swan (2010) Aronofsky creates a nightmare that we can’t wake up from. Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis represent two sides of the same coin. We don’t know who to root for as they dance circles around us. Black Swan is dizzying and terrifying. Set leading up to a high pressure ballet company’s debut of Black Swan, Aronofsky uses dance to personify the darkest fears and dreams of our leading ladies. 

A robot girl dances

M3gan (2022) Any film that is both actually scary and actually funny is a win in my book. Enter M3gan, an A.I. lifesize doll meant to babysit kids, what could go wrong? Starring Allison Williams as M3gan’s creator, we watch the futuristic prototype slowly rebel. I love that M3gan, similar to Abigail, blends dance and humor within a truly horrifying plot. 

a girl looks at a scarecrow

Pearl (2022) Who says only human dances qualify? Just ask M3gan. So what if Pearl dances with a scarecrow, she still deserves to be on this list for that one scene alone. Ti West’s prequel uses this wildly bizarre scene to bring us even deeper inside the messed up mind of Pearl. 

a group of women in white dresses dance around a may pole

Midsommar (2019) Has anyone ever forced you to take hallucinogens and then make you dance around a maypole for hours in the sun? 

For more on the history of horror, listen to the Lunatics Radio Hour podcast.

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