7+ Horror Movies About Artists

Art has the potential to be gruesome, which is certainly the case for these horror movies about art and artists.

Velvet Buzzsaw(2019) shows the dark world of art-dealing and the lengths some artists will take to get ahead.

Table of Contents

The horror of art and the art of horror. Here is a list of the best horror films about painters, sculptors, and photographers.

As a genre, horror is overlooked for its artistic attributes due to its violence. However, violence and art go together perfectly. They can even be found within each other. Canvas and clay offer a space to release rage and darkness. After expelling these forces from themselves, many artists feel healed. Others, like most on this list, surrender to their darkness. Their haunted souls permanently resting in their art. 

In Shutter (2008), we see what happens when what haunts us enters our art unbidden.

Art requires sacrifice. Someone else may be sacrificed in order to bring a vision to life. Other times, an artist gives away a part of themselves. Their blood, their sanity. Even their soul. The work of artists surrounds us. Does violence inherently follow? Some artists drink food coloring and forcibly vomit onto a canvas. That rust-red color you’ve seen in paintings may have been bled out by their artist. Menstrual blood and arterial blood alike offer art a life force. The same concept has been used by horror filmmakers. They use our worst fears to make a beautiful masterpiece. For the artists on this list blood, destruction, and creation go hand in hand. 

Best Horror Films About Art 

Blind Beast (1969)

This Japanese film is based on the book by Edogawa Rampo.

A blind sculptor kidnaps a young woman in order to use her as a muse for his work. Stockholm syndrome intensifies her relationship with the insane sculptor. Eventually, she decides she no longer wants to be his muse. Rather, she wants to be his artwork itself. Violence, passion, and creation overlap until a masterpiece is created that will lead to the end of both artist and muse.

The Manipulator (1971)

Mickey Rooney plays sadistic makeup artist B. J. Lang.

A Hollywood makeup artist decides to direct his own film. When scouting for an actress, he kidnaps a woman to lock into his homemade set. The actress awakes in his warehouse of props. Horrified, she realizes that’s all she is to this filmmaker–a prop. Surreal and sadistic imagery captures a story that encompasses abuse in positions of power, especially in the film industry. Do healthy boundaries exist outside of the manipulator’s warehouse? Or are actors human props, in some way captive to their directors?  

Shutter (2008)

Shutter is the remake of a Thai film released in 2004

While traveling, a couple of photographers get in an accident that leads to the death of one young girl. After the accident, the photographers notice strange apparitions in their photographs. As the phenomenon continues, they fear that the apparition is the girl they accidentally killed, appearing as a ghost in their photographs to forever remind them of the life they stole. Guilt looms over their shoulder until the very end. Shutter offers the possibility that cameras can capture more than the human eye can see. Though achieved through editing, spirit photography has been around since the 1900s.   

The Devils Candy (2015)

You might recognized lead Ethan Embry as Marc in Empire Records (1995) or Preston in Can’t Hardly Wait (1998).

An artist and his family move into a home with a haunted past. Within its halls, an omnipresent voice demands nourishment. The artist lets this mysterious voice inspire his paintings. The abstract strokes eventually reveal the faces of local missing children. Simultaneously, the source of the voice is revealed. The Devil, who yearns to be fed his favorite treat.  Writer-director Sean Byrne relates to the struggling artist that leads his film. “I’d been stuck in development hell, couldn’t get my own stuff off the ground,” Byrne says, “So I started channeling that frustration into the lead character by making him an artist who is making rent by doing bland commissions that he wasn’t very happy with, and he kind of lost his dream in a way.”

Deep Dark (2015)

Though Monica Graves went in for the role of Devora, she managed to lobby for the role of Layla instead.

Unable to produce good work, an artist intends to commit suicide. A talking hole in the wall interrupts his plans. When the artist talks to the dark void, it fulfills his wishes by helping him produce magnificent art. In the film, the hole and the artist give and take from each other, a dynamic which mirrors the relationship between art and its viewer. “And what are you really buying when you purchase an original piece of art?” Writer-director Michael Medaglia says, “There’s the physical art itself but I think there’s something more to it. I think it becomes a part of you in a small way because you’ve decided to place value on it.”

Hereditary (2018) 

Ari Aster practically considers the diorama’s made for the film as its own character

Annie, a miniature diorama artist, attempts to open the door to the spirit realm. For within it lies her mother, and more importantly, her newly deceased child. Between Séances, the grieving artist attempts to regain control through her art, or inside her home lies another. One made with her own hands and under her complete control, something that is of great comfort to any artist. Especially one whose life is spiraling out of control and past belief.

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Writer-director Dan Gilroy cites The Ring (2002) as one his primary inspirations for the film.

In this satirical horror, an ensemble cast moves through the secretive art world. The film offers laughs alongside an honest look at how artists exist in a capitalist society. Writer- director Dan Gilroy discusses a common struggle artists face regarding finding value in the work, in more ways than one. “Yes, hopefully, everybody’s art can generate enough money to pay their rent, and take care of their needs, and if it gets bigger than that, more power to you. But if it doesn’t, never lose sight of the fact that you’re investing something into it that has meaning. Really, if there’s any sort of central theme to the film, it’s that art is more than a commodity. Artists invest a part of their soul in their work, and it has value on that level.”

More Horror Films About Artists

Murder Party shows what happens when you encounter a group of deranged art students at a seemingly normal party.
  • A Bucket of Blood (1959), after accidentally killing a cat, Walter covers its body in clay. When his sculpture is met with adoration, Walter’s formula for creation turns him into a serial killer. 
  • Color My Blood Red (1965), where a murderer uses his victim’s blood as paint. 
  • Blood Bath (1966), believing he is a reincarnated vampire, an artist kills women and boils them in a vat.
  • A Quiet Place in the Country (1968), an artist moves to a haunted villa in the Italian countryside.  
  • The Headless Eyes (1971), a desolate artist is stabbed in the eye during an attempted robbery. When he recovers, he gouges out women’s eyes to use in his art.
  • The Vault of Horror (1973), a sequel horror anthology to the film version of Tales From the Crypt (1972), finds an artist with the power–and curse–to make anything he paints come true.
  • The House with the Laughing Windows (1976) is an Italian film wherein a painter attempts to restore a mural found in a rural church. 
  • Murder Party (2007), art students needing a new project lure an unassuming man to their Halloween party. The faux celebration quickly become violent.
  • Dead Awake (2016) finds a woman terrorized by a sleep paralysis demon. When she tells her artist boyfriend, he envisions the demon crawling out of his painting.
  • The Voyeurs (2021) deals with a creative photographer and his experimental art project.

Meet The Author

Kasey Rae is an artist, writer, and filmmaker, residing in the mountains of New York. Her favorite horror films are Nightmare on Elm Street and The Descent.