Christopher Nolan Must Make Horror His Movie Priority

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Updated

We may live in an age of Christopher Nolan victories—just look at the seven Academy Awards snagged by Oppenheimer at the Oscars—but we also live in an age, thankfully, of horror. From Hereditary to Get Out to Barbarian, high-brow horror is in, and, like some wonderful call-back to the age of New Hollywood (where genre juggernauts like The Shining and The Exorcist were the norm), horror no longer counts solely as the arena of cheap thrills. It’s the arena auteurs, too. 

Nolan needs to get in on the action, for all our sakes. 

Nolan Horror Would Fit In Well Alongside Jordan Peele

Like Jordan Peele’s razor-sharp social commentary, excellent filmmaking, and genuinely terrifying Get Out, Christopher Nolan’s prospective horror flick could combine all we love in film. And, to put it in less artistic terms (should you be reading this, Christopher Nolan): it’s in vogue to produce a quality horror film. 

Horror Is Hot

Indeed, MidsommarSmileThe Witch, and all the horror movies mentioned above account for the genuinely impactful achievements in “mainstream” cinema over the recent decade or so. Beyond the endless onslaught of Marvel, when it comes to drawing audiences to theaters, horror reigns supreme. People flocked to see Hereditary largely due to word-of-mouth and hype; months after its premiere, GOATs like Martin Scorsese would be singing its praises.

A24 + Nolan?

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Undoubtedly, just as nerds became (deservedly!) cool with the onset of the information age and Silicon Valley, horror has earned a slot at the cool kids’ table; A24, after all, would be nothing without Ari Aster’s horror brilliance. And they’re the coolest studio around. 

Plus, consider how excellent and engaging Christopher Nolan’s potential horror movie would be. His cinematic prowess—his knack for crafting cinema impossible to turn away from—is in a league of his own.

Already Dabbled In Horror


Plus, he’s already (kind of) dabbled in horror or horror elements. 

For instance, Memento, Nolan’s superb second film, is a true-blue descent into psychological terror. The groundbreaking narrative, woven around memory loss, exhibits the director’s ability to evoke horror not from external monsters but from the mind’s own fragility. The protagonist’s splintered psyche is manifested in the iconic non-linear storytelling that enriches the film, dishing up outsized portions of psychological horror. 

Engaging Humanity’s Darkside

Christopher Nolan’s filmography features other horror candidates, too, all showcasing his prospective abilities in the genre. Take the filmmaker’s first movie, Following, centered around a young man obsessed with stalking strangers. The director’s first feature acts as a striking precursor to his fascination with the darker aspects of the human psyche as it plunges into the inherent horror of voyeurism and invasion of privacy.



Insomnia, as well, is perhaps Nolan’s most overt nod towards the horror genre. The movie is powerfully set against the backdrop of an Alaskan town plunged in perpetual daylight—Midsommar, anyone?—and revels in the psychological unraveling of a detective, played terrifically by Al Pacino. Pacino pursues a murderer, even more memorably portrayed by the incredibly talented Robin Williams, across the relentlessly sundrenched Alaskan wastes. It’s a creepy, unforgettable masterclass on atmosphere, rife with tension and unease, demonstrating Christopher Nolan’s power of harnessing environmental elements to achieve a sense of horror. 

Superhero Horror

Finally, of course, we’re not forgetting The Dark Knight, the superhero masterpiece that doubles as another foretaste of Nolan’s capabilities in horror. Heath Ledger’s impeccable, unbeatable Joker embodies the chaotic unpredictability of terror. Nolan’s depiction of Gotham City under the thrall of his reign of terror shares much with the anarchic dread found in the apocalyptic horror films we all love.

All of which is to say that Christopher Nolan needs to make a horror film and soon.