The Coen Brothers Can Make The Greatest Modern Day Horror Film, Here’s How

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

Javier Bardem Marvel villain

A cinematic prophecy has come excitingly to fruition—the legendary Coen Brothers, Joel and Ethan, penned a true-blue horror script promising to delve into the depths of pure terror. This is much-welcome news for film fans the world over. Why? Because the Coen siblings, more than all modern auteur directors, possess the talent to deliver a genuinely terrifying, cinematically excellent horror experience.

Horror Lurks In The Background Of Their Movies

Horror has always lurked in the background of their works, sometimes even in the foreground. A genuine fright-fest is not merely a thrilling prospect for fans; it’s also a natural progression of the Coen Brothers’ filmography–a body of work subtly weaving horror elements in several iconic films. We’re talking Blood SimpleNo Country for Old MenBarton Fink, and Fargo. 

In each film, the best pair of directorial siblings in film history demonstrated a mastery of the art of suspense, atmospheric tension, and the macabre. In other words, it is an essential ingredient for a memorable horror movie.

Blood Simple

Their neo-noir debut, Blood Simple, featured bonafide frights, effectively employing memorably scary scenes. Who can forget the sequence when Ray, the earnest backdoor man just trying to help the woman he loves, ends up burying her horrible husband, Julian, alive? Nor can the preceding scene, in which Julian breaks into Ray’s house and attempts to assault Abby (played so well by the Coen brothers’ regular, Frances McDormand), be quickly shaken from memory.

Later, when Julian appears somehow alive, shockingly sitting in the apartment of his unfaithful wife, we’re terrified. Thankfully, it’s a relief when it’s revealed a few moments later to be a dream sequence. This visceral terror, utilized in their potential horror film, will be hard to watch–and hard to ignore.

Barton Fink

Barton Fink, with its hellish hotel and steep decline in madness, accesses psychological horror in a peerlessly powerful way. The Coen brothers’ film blurs the lines dividing reality from nightmares to the point where audiences genuinely wince and avert their gaze. As a traveling insurance salesman moonlighting as a serial killer, John Goodman sincerely sells the part (no pun intended). 

We can surely expect at least a minimum of the psychological horror evidenced by Barton Fink in the upcoming horror flick. If so, the movie will surely be a powerhouse.


Black Comedy

And what about the Coen’s Fargo and the brutally iconic scene of Peter Stormare shoving Steve Buscemi’s leg into an uncooperative woodchipper? Indeed, McDormand’s character asking: “That your friend there in the woodchipper?” is equally etched into our collective memory. This incredibly impactful sequence (to say the least) is the very stuff of horror, a genre so regularly enriched by comedy. The looming sense of dread simmering beneath the surface of Fargo also attests to the brothers’ horror prowess. 

More likely than not, they’ll invest their upcoming film with this same splendid combination of shocking gore imagery, devilish humor, and atmospheric menace. 

No Country For Old Men

javier bardem no country for old men

Then there’s No Country For Old Men; what could exemplify how and why the upcoming Coen brothers’ horror film will exceed expectations more than this incredible inversion of the Western? In it, Anton Chigurh, portrayed with chilling precision by Javier Bardem, is no mere villain–but the embodiment of inevitable death. Chigurh’s methodical, emotionless pursuit of his prey conveys an existential dread rare in cinema. The directing duo craft scenes around Chigurh so meticulously that his presence evokes a sense of doom. 

And more pervasively, the film addresses a primal fear—being hunted. Indeed, the work masterfully portrays the vulnerability of its characters; their terror is palpable. 

Expect the tools from this horror toolbox to add to the prowess of the upcoming Coen bro’s movie, too. 

Thus, horror couldn’t be in better hands than the Coen brothers.’