folklore

Taylor Swift’s Freaky folklore Movie Mood Board

Photo: Clockwise from top left: taylorswift.com, The Criterion Collection, taylorswift.com, The Orchard

Taylor Swift loves to beat an aesthetic into the proverbial ground, and never has that been more clear than in the marketing materials for folklore, her very first haunted album about knitwear and crying at trees. Taylor really went for it in the album’s accompanying merchandise and stills and first music video, which depict her doing all manner of ghostly woods activities, including but not limited to: sitting in a gigantic wheat field by herself, wearing the Babadook’s coat, doing her hair like an old-timey doll, getting lost alone in a forest, frantically running away from somebody with a camera, standing precariously on rocks, and drowning. By releasing these freaky photos before the album itself, Taylor was ostensibly alerting us that folklore would be lo-fi and grave and inexplicably terrifying, cleaving it thematically from the Technicolor carnival of Lover and the high-key Hot Topic energy of Reputation.

The folklore marketing also reveals something else about Taylor: Like all of us, she has been watching too much Criterion Channel during quarantine, apparently interspersed with some A24 horror. Each piece of the visual folklore puzzle is, in some way, paying purposeful or accidental homage to various cult classic and genre films, all of which are extremely depressing and/or frightening. Even the album’s lyrics are populated with references to watching and imitating movies (“I think I’ve seen this film before / and I didn’t like the ending”; “I hit the Sunday matinée / You know the greatest films of all time were never made”), as well as blatant nods to the horror genre (a song called “seven”; “I’ve been meaning to tell you / I think your house is haunted”; “For digging up the grave another time”; “Pack your dolls and a sweater”). What I am trying to say is that folklore is the Ari Aster/Robert Eggers/Ingmar Bergman/Jane Campion/Sofia Coppola collabo we have all been waiting for, an eerie black-and-white indie period horror film about a woman trapped in a recording studio with Jack Antonoff with only nightgowns and mushrooms for sustenance. In honor of this unprecedented cinematic event, I have created a retroactive folklore movie mood board, likely very similar to the one that Taylor currently has sitting in her spooky seaside mansion, covered in red string and pushpins and photos of Liv Ullmann screaming.

Ingmar Bergman’s Autumn Sonata:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: New World Pictures

Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: The Criterion Collection

Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror/ Ivan’s Childhood:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Center: Kino Video/YouTube, Right: Shore International
Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Kino Video

Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Paramount Home Video
Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Paramount Home Video
Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Paramount Home Video

Ari Aster’s Midsommar:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: A24
Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: A24

Ingmar Bergman’s Persona:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Janus Films

Věra Chytilová’s Daisies:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Sigma III Corp. (II)

Robert Eggers’s The Witch:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: A24
Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: A24

Jane Campion’s The Piano:

Photo: Left: YouTube, Right: Miramax

Ingmar Bergman’s Summer With Monika:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Photo 12/Alamy Stock Photo

Laura and Kate Mulleavy’s Woodshock:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy Stock Photo
Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy Stock Photo

Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene:

Photo: Left: YouTube, Right: Fox Searchlight Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock

Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Picturehouse

Joachim Trier’s Thelma:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: The Orchard
Photo: Left: YouTube, Right: The Orchard

Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight:

Photo: Left: YouTube, Right: The Weinstein Company

Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Causeway/Smoking Gun Prods/Kobal/Shutterstock

Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick’s The Blair Witch Project:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Artisan Entertainment

Bill Kroyer’s FernGully:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Twentieth Century Fox

Lars von Trier’s Antichrist:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Zentropa Ents/Kobal/Shutterstock

John Boorman’s Deliverance:

Photo: Left: taylorswift.com, Right: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Andy Tennant’s It Takes Two:

Photo: Left/Center: taylorswift.com, Right: Allstar Picture Library Ltd./Alamy Stock Photo
Taylor Swift’s Freaky folklore Movie Mood Board