10 Great Movies To Watch If You Like Robert Eggers

6. Marketa Lazarová (1966)

Marketa Lazarova (1967)

So you watched ‘The Northman’ and now you’re aching for another ruthless Middle Age epic full of mud and muck, barbaric feuds, fur-clad bandits, spellbinding rituals and unrepentant bloodshed? In that case, look no further than this Czech gem that has been the holy grail of historical period pieces for decades.

Bolstered by an impressionistic reverie of disjointed chapters, ‘Marketa Lazarová’ is a bleak tapestry of Medieval civilization that puts opposite religious beliefs under the microscope in equal measure, suggesting that radical conventions fester intolerance and oppression. The film presents the theological transition from Paganism to Christianity that reshaped Eastern Europe around the time through the juxtaposition of two bickering clans that lock horns time and again. The film paints its frigid landscape as a ruthless jungle ruled by feral savagery and survival of the fittest where the titular character, the virgin daughter of a feudal lord, is kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the rival gang. And yet, despite its brutal outbursts of violence, there’s a certain lyrical beauty to how the story unfolds with every frame dripping in mood. Immerse yourself in it and you will not be disappointed.


7. Eraserhead (1977)


Despite having just three movies under his belt, Eggers has already shown a knack for creating and sustaining claustrophobic atmospheres that has set him apart from the rest of his peers. ‘The Lighthouse’ marked an artistic highpoint in this regard, a film filled with a painful sense of impending dread by way of black-and-white cinematography, absurdist imagery and disrupting sound design.

‘Eraserhead’ is a film that shares all these aforementioned attributes and that similarly refuses to parlay into a set definition of narrative. Factory hums, fizzing lightbulbs, buzzing radiators… David Lynch’s debut is best described as a slippery tumble into the abyss that charts the depths of the human psyche, thrusting us into the troubled headspace of a soft-spoken print worker in the wake of his unexpected parenthood. The daunting prospect of his newfound familial responsibilities pushes our distraught protagonist to the edge of sanity, and soon the lines between reality and hallucination begin to blur.

More than forty years on, ‘Eraserhead’ continues to perplex us as a one-of-a-kind experience — one that finds terror not in the supernatural but in the mundane aspects of our daily life.


8. Onibaba (1964)


During a period of civil unrest in feudal Japan, a desperate woman and her mother-in-law live by scraps in the war-torn countryside while her husband exchanges blows on the battlefield. In order to make ends meet, they pillage off lost Samurai who stray into their muggy hut by selling their gear for food. After his husband dies, the wife falls for a nearby neighbor much to the mother’s discontent, who uses a demon-like mask to sway her from her new acquaintance.

Along similar lines to ‘The Witch’, the film draws from traditional folktales to deliver a masterpiece in slow-burn horror as well as a morality tale on sin, greed and superstition that shows the great lengths people go to in order to survive. There’s a looming dread seeping into the whole narrative that feels palpable from minute one, but which never manifests in unearned, cheap jump scares. Onibaba’s foreboding mood, eerie cinematography and spellbinding sound design will suck you in if you give it the chance.


9. Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

The lofty reputation that precedes Béla Tarr is one that evokes intellectual artistry if not tedious solemnity too. The Hungarian director has become quite a legendary figure within the arthouse landscape with a foreboding style marked by glacial, slow-moving takes, black-and-white cinematography, austere settings and inscrutable narratives wrapped in layers of metaphors and political symbolism.

Fresh off his seven-hour long epic about the fall of Communism (‘Sátántangó’), Tarr delivered another memorable head-scratcher in ‘Werckmeister Harmonies’, where a circus comes to a frosty, little town in Eastern Europe only to reveal the dark side of its forlorn inhabitants. The film can be interpreted as a cautionary tale on collectivism, herd mentality and the futility of rebellion. And yet, much like Eggers’ work, ‘Werckmeister Harmonies’ foregoes any kind of strait-laced analysis. It’s a film that raises far more questions than it grants answers, and hence, allows for as many readings now as it once did twenty years ago.


10. Viy (1967)


Witches come in different shapes and forms, but no matter whether they swoop across the sky on a broom, cackle over a cauldron, cast spells or make magic ointments out of unbaptized babies — they beguile us all the same. Robert Eggers merely needed one harrowing scene to send chills down our spine with his morbid iteration, and though the witch in the following entry may not rank as high in the all-time spooky sorcerers list, ‘Viy’ makes for a fitting companion piece to his debut.

Taking place in 19th-century Russia, the film opens with a group of young seminary students who celebrate their summer vacation by wreaking havoc on their rural village. Following one of their drinking sprees, they stumble upon an abandoned farmhouse where an ostensibly hospitable old woman greets them. As it turns out, the crone happens to be a shape-shifting witch with wicked plans in mind.

Though unabashedly a horror movie, ‘Viy’ never takes itself super-seriously and wears its campy folkloric roots as a badge of honor. The film more than makes up for its shoestring budget with evocative visuals and creative practical effects that pay dividends especially when all hell breaks loose at the end. As long as you go into it with an open mind, this Soviet cult classic is an absolute riot.