10 Twisted Fairy Tales on Film

IFC Films’ Sleeping Beauty — the Jane Campion “presented” movie directed by Australian novelist Julia Leigh — slinks into theaters this Friday. Sounding more like Anne Rice’s sadomasochistic Sleeping Beauty trilogy than the classic tale we knew as children, the film finds Emily Browning as a university student who gets wrapped up in an erotic whirlwind with a dark twist we’ll let you discover for yourself.

Many films have lifted the veil on fairy tale fantasies, revealing the depraved, pitch-black narratives hiding in literature’s fabled legends. One flip through the storybook confirms that our childhood fantasies were a treasure trove of primal fears and sexual anxiety. Coming-of-age nightmares, patriarchal distress, and feminine paranoia are just a few of the Grimm-inspired subjects that Hollywood has explored in its retelling of these mythic stories. Click through for a look at ten films that put a dark twist on our favorite fairy tales.



With its striking Technicolor visuals and a chilling narrative that journeys through a world of witches, hidden labyrinths, and the dark woods, Dario Argento’s Suspiria is a surreal fairy tale nightmare. The dizzying 1977 horror film follows American ballet student Suzy Bannion, who attends a prestigious dance academy somewhere on the edge of Germany’s Black Forest. Like Grimm’s Gretyl trapped in an occult fantasy, Suzy’s mythological voyage to the bowels of the school’s wicked underworld is an intensely breathtaking trip. The film’s lurid, gothic grandeur was actually inspired in part by another fairy tale movie — Disney’s Snow White.