17 of the best Horror & Thriller Movies Set in Snow and Ice

In today’s post, I’m sharing my top favorite movies set in snowy and icy weather. From secluded winter cabins to icy landscapes, these films bring a whole new level of suspense against the backdrop of frosty landscapes. Often nicknamed ‘snow horror’ or ‘winter horror,’ each movie on this list is a testament to the bone-chilling magic that happens when horror meets snowy settings.

1. The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980) is a renowned horror film set in a snow-covered environment, directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick. It tells the story of Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, who becomes the caretaker of the remote Overlook Hotel during the winter season, bringing his wife and son along.

As the heavy snowfall cuts off any means of communication with the outside world, Jack’s mental state starts to deteriorate, leading to a chilling portrayal of insanity. The Overlook Hotel itself, covered in a blanket of snow, becomes a character with its own personality — both majestic and unsettling.

By skillfully incorporating its wintry setting into every aspect of its storytelling, The Shining solidifies its status as one of the most memorable horror films ever made.

2. Let the Right One In (2008)

Let the Right One In (2008) is a standout among snow horror movies, both for its chilling story and its stunning snowy landscapes that intensify the feeling of being alone and vulnerable. Taking place in a Swedish suburb during a harsh winter, the movie tells the tale of Oskar, a 12-year-old who is bullied and finds comfort in his new friend Eli, who turns out to be a vampire.

The stark whiteness of the snow creates a striking contrast with the dark themes of isolation and growing up. It highlights the harshness of Eli’s life as someone who never belongs while also emphasizing the warmth of her unlikely bond with Oskar. The snowy setting goes beyond being just a background; it becomes a silent character, reflecting the atmosphere and eliciting strong emotions from viewers.

Let the Right One In has received widespread acclaim for its innovative approach to vampire mythology. Instead of focusing solely on scares and gore, the film delves deep into character development and emotional impact. This sets it apart from traditional horror movies and transforms it into an unforgettable cinematic experience that stays with you long after it ends.

3. 30 Days of Night (2007)

In the heart of the Alaskan winter, 30 Days of Night plunges viewers into the terrifying darkness of Barrow, a town enduring a month-long polar night. This winter horror movie ratchets up the tension as a group of unsuspecting residents find themselves besieged by a relentless predatory force: vampires.

Memorable scenes abound in this chilling tale, such as the eerie moment when the town’s communication and power are methodically cut, signaling the onset of a predator’s game. The unique vampire concept—feral, calculated monsters rather than the typical charismatic undead—adds a fresh layer of dread to the icy expanse.

4. Frozen (2010)

Imagine being stuck on a ski lift, high above the ground in a desolate resort, with no one around to help. That’s exactly the plight of three friends in Frozen (2010), a film that takes snowy horror movies to new heights—literally. The sheer panic of their situation is palpable as they face the grim realization that they might not make it down alive.

Director Adam Green skillfully builds suspense throughout the film, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats, as Frozen goes beyond a simple survival story by delving into the characters’ inner struggles and relationships. Isolation, desperation, and fear come together in a chilling blend that sticks with you long after the credits roll.

5. Dead Snow (2009)

Venturing into the frosty realm of Dead Snow (2009), a unique entry in the snow-themed horror movies, we meet a group of friends who find themselves up against Nazi zombies in a snowy mountain cabin. The premise alone sets up the film’s distinct blend of horror and comedy.

Dead Snow successfully intertwines gruesome scenes with dark comedy, making it more than just a typical zombie flick. The chilling environment amplifies the horror, but it’s the unexpected comedic elements that make this movie stand out.

One unforgettable scene involves a character using his intestines as a makeshift climbing rope to escape the undead. As outrageous as it sounds, it encapsulates the film’s approach – blending gore with absurd humor.

The snowy setting serves as more than just a backdrop; it enhances the isolation and trepidation felt by our characters while also providing unique challenges and comedic opportunities. This fusion of elements contributes to Dead Snow‘s status as an unconventional gem within the genre.

6. The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) is a masterclass in horror set against the desolate backdrop of an Antarctic research station. In this chilling tale, a shapeshifting alien terrorizes a group of scientists, creating an environment where trust dissolves quicker than ice in the sun. The setting plays a crucial role, as the never-ending whiteness and biting cold outside amplify the claustrophobia and paranoia that seep inside the walls.

The icy isolation is more than just a setting; it’s practically a character in itself. It traps the characters with their fear, leaving them—and viewers—questioning what lurks around each corner. Carpenter’s use of practical effects brings a gritty realism to the alien creature, creating iconic moments that have burrowed into the psyche of horror enthusiasts everywhere.

From the grotesque transformation scenes to the tension-filled blood test sequence, The Thing stands as a testament to how an icy environment can deepen suspense and horror, making it a must-watch for fans of horror movies set in snow and ice.

7. Wind Chill (2007)

In the chilling winter horror movie Wind Chill, two college students find themselves stranded on a desolate snowy road after their car breaks down. The cold isn’t their only problem, as they soon realize supernatural forces are at play, haunting them with eerie apparitions from the past.

The relentless cold of the environment plays a critical role in Wind Chill, amplifying the characters’ sense of isolation and escalating fear. The stark, frozen landscape is not just a backdrop but an active participant in the story, contributing to the characters’ increasing desperation.

Key scenes, including ghostly encounters that seem to emerge from the biting frost, and moments where survival against the harsh elements becomes as pressing as evading the supernatural, create an atmospheric tension that’s hard to shake off. This movie cleverly uses its winter setting to craft scenes that are both visually haunting and emotionally gripping.

8. The Colony (2013)

The Colony is somewhat of a hidden gem, but if you’re a fan of the snow & ice trope, it should definitely be on your watch list. Directed by Jeff Renfroe, the film presents a post-apocalyptic world where a new ice age has forced survivors into underground colonies. As tensions rise, a trio led by Laurence Fishburne’s character explores a neighboring colony only to uncover a nightmarish truth. The film effectively utilizes the desolate, frozen landscape to amplify the sense of isolation and impending doom, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere that heightens the horror.

What makes The Colony stand out is its unique blend of survivalist thriller and horror elements. The movie seamlessly weaves suspense, gruesome discoveries, and a relentless fight for survival, making it a captivating and overlooked gem for horror enthusiasts. With strong performances, a compelling storyline, and a chilling setting, The Colony offers a fresh take on the frozen horror subgenre, making it a must-watch for those seeking a hidden treasure in the icy depths of horror cinema.

9. Krampus (2015)

Snowy horror movies often use the harsh winter conditions as a backdrop to amplify the tension and fear. Krampus (2015) is no exception to this trend.

The film revolves around a family gathering during the Christmas holidays that takes a sinister turn when they incur the wrath of Krampus – a demonic entity from European folklore known for punishing those who have lost their holiday spirit. As the blizzard intensifies outside, so does the terror within their home.

What’s particularly captivating about Krampus is its utilization of the snow-covered suburban neighborhood. It transforms what should be a picturesque winter wonderland into an eerie, desolate landscape – an effective juxtaposition that enhances the horror elements.

The film does an exceptional job at mixing holiday cheer with chilling scares, making it a unique entry in snowy horror films.

10. ATM (2012)

ATM is a gripping tale set in the heart of winter, painting an unnerving picture of survival amidst a cannibalistic horror. In this icy narrative, isolation becomes as much of an adversary as the human-eaters themselves, with a remote mountain fort setting the stage for a chilling fight for life.

The film unfolds during the harsh winter months, trapping characters in a desolate location that amplifies their vulnerability and magnifies every sound and danger in the snow-laden landscape.

The white expanse serves not just as a backdrop but also as an encroaching force that seeps into every crevice of the characters’ psyches. The bone-chilling cold and endless snowdrifts are relentless, making viewers feel the characters’ every shiver and hear their breath crystallize in the frozen air.

11. Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer takes us on a chilling journey aboard a train hurtling through a post-apocalyptic world encased in ice and snow.

In this thriller, the remnants of humanity live on a constantly moving train that circles the globe, where class divisions have caused crime, famine, and sickness to run rampant among the lower class. The plot thickens when they decide to revolt, led by Curtis Everett (played by Chris Evans).

The endless whiteout conditions beyond the train’s windows are more than just a backdrop; they’re a claustrophobic reminder of the passengers’ precarious existence. The icy setting is both a literal and metaphorical cage that amplifies the danger lurking within the close quarters of this metallic world.

12. The Thing (2011)

The Thing (2011), a prequel to John Carpenter’s iconic The Thing (1982), takes us back to the chilling Antarctic setting where an alien entity wreaks havoc among a group of researchers. The film skillfully captures the isolation and claustrophobia of the icy wilderness, enhancing the horror atmosphere. The desolate landscape becomes a character itself, intensifying the sense of vulnerability as the characters face an insidious extraterrestrial threat.

While the 2011 rendition successfully pays homage to the tense atmosphere and practical effects of the original, it falls short of reaching the same legendary status. Despite commendable efforts to build suspense and maintain a sense of paranoia, the film struggles to replicate the sheer terror and groundbreaking practical effects that made its predecessor a horror masterpiece. Nevertheless, The Thing remains a solid horror movie set in the icy realms, with its atmospheric tension and nods to Carpenter’s classic creating an engaging experience for fans of the genre, even if it doesn’t surpass the brilliance of the 1982 version.

13. Blood Glacier (2013)

In the chilling expanse of the Austrian Alps, Blood Glacier (also marketed as The Station) unfolds a tale where a seemingly innocuous glacier holds lethal secrets. The story kicks off when a team of scientists discovers that the melting ice is leaking a mysterious red liquid, which triggers genetic mutations in local wildlife, creating grotesque and deadly creatures.

Blood Glacier is a standout amongst snow themed horror movies for its unique blend of environmental commentary and creature-feature terror.

14. No Exit (2022)

A recent addition to the icy horror subgenre, No Exit takes us on a thrilling journey through the Rockies. The film centers around Darby, a troubled young woman who gets stuck at a highway rest stop during a blizzard. When she discovers a kidnapped child in one of the parked vehicles, a tense game of cat-and-mouse ensues as she tries to uncover which of the other stranded travelers is the kidnapper.

The chilling snowstorm not only creates an atmospheric backdrop but escalates the feeling of claustrophobia and helplessness. The intense cold outside turns the rest stop into an inescapable trap, heightening Darby’s sense of desperation.

No Exit is a masterful blend of horror and thriller elements with its nail-biting suspense scenes and plot twists, making it an engaging watch for fans of both genres. The snowy mountains serve as a constant reminder of the characters’ isolation, reinforcing that there’s no easy way out of their predicament.

15. The Lodge (2019)

The Lodge sends chills down your spine, not just because of its unsettling plot, but also due to its eerie snow-filled setting. This psychological horror film revolves around a soon-to-be stepmother, Grace, trapped in a remote holiday cabin with her fiancé’s two children during a blizzard.

The snow-clad environment intensifies the characters’ sense of isolation and the ensuing tension. It becomes a silent character in itself, amplifying the claustrophobic atmosphere within the lodge. The unforgiving winter weather outside mirrors the frosty relationship between Grace and the children, adding another layer to the chilling narrative.

This film stands out for its slow-burn horror that creeps up on you. Notable scenes include hallucinatory experiences and haunting revelations, made all the more disturbing by the relentless cold and desolation. The Lodge demonstrates how frigid settings can be effectively used to augment horror elements, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats while they shiver not just from fear, but also from the cinematic cold.

16. Everest (2015)

Everest takes us on a harrowing journey up the world’s highest peak, laying bare the harsh and dangerous conditions that climbers face. The storyline revolves around the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, where several climbers tragically lost their lives due to a violent snowstorm.

What makes this film stand out is its authentic portrayal of the icy, desolate landscape that becomes a relentless antagonist in itself. The treacherous weather conditions and the vast, unforgiving snow-covered terrain amplify the sense of danger and isolation experienced by the climbers.

17. Society of the Snow (2023)

Based on actual events, it follows a group of Uruguayans as they fight to survive in the harsh climate of the Andes after a plane crash. Although not technically in the horror genre, this film is more terrifying and disturbing than most of the horror movies I’ve seen – especially since it actually happened. Just when you think things can’t get worse, they somehow manage to…get worse. If you are at all a fan of survival horror/thriller movies, then you will probably like this.

This chilling journey through some of the best snow horror movies might leave you with goosebumps, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are countless other horror movies set in snow and ice that are worth exploring. From the frost-bitten terror of “Black Mountain Side” to the arctic scares of “Harbinger Down”, these films leverage their icy settings to amp up the atmosphere and tension.

It’s a testament to how effective a snowy, isolated backdrop can be in a horror film. The biting cold, the blinding storms, the feeling of being trapped and vulnerable – it all contributes to an unnerving sense of dread that few other settings can replicate.

So go ahead. Bundle up, grab some hot cocoa (maybe add a bit of courage-boosting whiskey), and dive into these icy horror gems. You might find yourself looking at snowflakes a little differently after these chilling tales.

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