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4 Good Movies like Beautiful Creatures: Small Town Gothic

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Jane Howarth itcherHow do you follow up Beautiful Creatures? Keep the small town supernatural going with Red Riding Hood from the director of Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke, 2008), head straight for the vampire section, or explore the light and dark of Victorian London in Great Expectations? ~ Jane Howarth

Beautiful Creatures (Richard LaGravenese, 2013) already appeared on my list of movies similar to Twilight along with Tuck Everlasting (Jay Russell, 2002) – but there must be more small town supernatural movies out there. The internet’s not exactly short on recommendations, but they also cover a lot of ground. Let’s narrow it down.

Wait, What Are We Looking For?

YA book-to-movie adaptations like The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012) are a good bet – in fact, here are a few of my favourites – but if I’m looking for good movies like Beautiful Creatures, I don’t necessarily want to fast forward to a dystopian future.

The Craft (Andrew Fleming, 1996) has the teen witch thing covered, but while Nancy’s looking for ways to whip up some dark magic, Lena’s conflicted about spell-casting abilities she doesn’t even want.

Totally different perspective.

As Mel will tell you, Anne Rice’s books cover all things supernatural, and adaptations like Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan, 1994) and Queen of the Damned (Michael Rymer, 2002) define Southern Gothic.

Now, Beautiful Creatures is set in the heart of Southern Gothic territory.

But you know what?

When those credits roll, complete with intertwining vines and alt-rock, they don’t send me away feeling like I’ve just watched a horror movie.

What Are Some Good Movies like Beautiful Creatures?

For me, these films capture those Gothic overtones and small town claustrophobia so well – and they put the characters’ decisions, lives, and loves front and centre.

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`Edward Scissorhands´ (Tim Burton, 1990)

I am not complete.

‘Avon calling!’  Is there a more perfect tale of misfits in suburbia?

Visually, it’s pretty different – catch my thoughts on Tim Burton’s unique style here – but if you’re looking for another film that drops a Gothic mansion into a chirpy, pastel-coloured town, you’re in the right place.

And that place has unparalleled topiary.

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`Red Riding Hood´ (Catherine Hardwicke, 2011)

If you love her, you’ll let her go.

Taking a detour from the usual woodland path to grandmother’s house, Hardwicke’s version switches things up by turning the wolf into a werewolf.

Yep, that makes the monster one of the villagers…

This movie does stack up a fairly high body count, but those spindly woods and snowdrifts define the unsettling atmosphere.

***

If You Like Beautiful Creatures, You Might Also Like…

These movies step outside YA, though they’re both adaptations, so why do I think you’ll love them?

Aside from their supernatural or Gothic charm, the characters shape their own worlds, choosing light or dark, and trying to fit in.

`Practical Magic´ (Griffin Dunne, 1998)

I dream of a love that even time will lie down and be still for.

Based on the Alice Hoffman book, it’s not a YA movie but something about it reminds me of Beautiful Creatures.

And before you say ‘the witches, perhaps?’, I’d better elaborate.

Here’s another set of small town witches caught between their own, regular lives and their supernatural inheritance, complete with flashbacks of their witchy lineage.

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`Great Expectations´ (Mike Newell, 2012)

To be guilty, and to be found guilty, are different things.

Pip’s unusual employment as a trainee society boy, and companion to frosty-cold Estella, set him on course for a life that’s just as confusing.

Add the cobwebby aura of weird that emanates from Miss Havisham’s mansion, foggy marshes and murky Victorian London, and this Dickens adaptation is definitely worth seeing if you’re missing Ravenwood Manor.

Helena Bonham Carter’s never disappointed me yet, and though Robbie Coltrane’s Mr Jaggers reminded me a little too much of Hagrid in the scene you’ll see in the trailer, that’s not the whole picture.

***

The Supernatural Subgenre Problem

Supernatural romance movies and YA books-to-movies aren’t hard to find, but recreating just the right mood? Not so easy.

I’m a city girl, so I can’t say I really understand that small town feeling, but I love the way movies that are similar to Beautiful Creatures put something strange and fascinating behind white picket fences.

Did I Miss Anything? Let Me Know!

If you’re anything like me, you probably know exactly what you’re looking for when you’re in a specific movie mood.

So what movies send you to back to Gatlin and the Casters?

Hi, I’m Jane, BA (Drama, Film and TV) and MA (Cultural and Creative Industries). When I’m not writing about creative things, I’m designing or planning them. If you’re brave enough to risk an avalanche, look behind the stacks of books and DVDs and you’ll find me balancing a cup of tea, a handful of knitting and a cupcake.
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