Every Tilda Swinton Horror Movie Ranked From Worst to Best


Tilda Swinton has appeared in a wide variety of horror movies, differing substantially in style and quality, and this calls for a ranking of these titles in order from worst to best. The Oscar-winning actor, best known for her role as the Ancient One in the MCU’s Doctor Strange, has never been afraid of a challenge. Swinton’s filmography is littered with ambitious, surreal, and often inscrutable projects, many of which leave the mainstream behind in favor of trippier territory, and that includes her work in the horror genre.

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Amid her more than 80 feature films, Tilda Swinton has appeared in five horror movies: one horror-comedy, one psychological horror, one comic book adaptation, one vampire movie, and one remake. They are a mixed bag, per their critical reception, with two of the movies receiving rave reviews, one of them lambasted, and two receiving middling write-ups. However, Swinton’s performances have been singled out as a strong element in even her weakest genre efforts.

Whether she is single-handedly providing the laughs in an otherwise weak zombie comedy from director Jim Jarmusch or playing numerous roles in Luca Guadagnino’s very loose remake of Suspiria, Tilda Swinton can be relied on to bring a memorable performance to any horror movie. Here is a ranking of all five of Tilda Swinton’s horror movies, in order from the worst to the best.

The Dead Don’t Die

The Dead Don’t Dieis a devastatingly bland and underwritten effort from mercurial director Jim Jarmusch. While a quirky, defiantly lo-fi, and downbeat zombie comedy sounds like a fun idea on paper, in reality, The Dead Don’t Die is an uninspired, unambitious, and bizarrely bleak mess. Credit where it is due, Dead Don’t Die beat Day of the Deadto become the first horror comedy to blame fracking for its undead invasion. However, even this half-hearted satirical jab goes nowhere in a movie that introduces a slew of promising characters only to slowly give up on them one by one.

The only redeeming moments of this horror movie are provided by Bill Murray’s deadpan performance and Tilda Swinton’s scene-stealing role as the town’s bizarre, unhinged mortician. By the time Swinton’s character hops aboard her spaceship to escape the undead hordes, viewers will wish they could join her en route to a better, more cohesive movie.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Although elevated by its acting talent, We Need To Talk About Kevin steers clear of psychological introspection in favor of “some people are just born bad” pablum. The troubled Ezra Miller gives an unsettling, revelatory turn as the titular school shooter, while Tilda Swinton gives one of her strongest performances ever as his mother.

Lynne Ramsay’s urgent direction cuts between past and present, never letting the viewer relax as Swinton’s icy heroine jumps from struggling with her creepy child and coping with the tragic aftermath of his atrocious actions. What a shame, then, that We Need To Talk About Kevin sticks with the noncommittal message of Lionel Shriver’s novel, attributing Kevin’s evil to under-explored innate badness and his mother’s ambivalence without delving into either and depriving the story of any challenging complexity as a result. Like the similarly-themed Brightburn, it’s a risk-averse letdown.

Constantine

Keanu Reeves is superb as the title character of 2005’s Constantine, a comic book adaptation whose unconvincing CGI monsters and ill-advised alterations to the source material hold the movie back from greatness. The movie doesn’t really know whether it wants to be an R-rated gore fest or a more accessible antihero story, but the fusion of religious horror and film noir motifs works surprisingly well throughout.

The cast is uniformly excellent, from the perfectly cast Reeves to Rachel Weisz (juggling three roles) to Tilda Swinton’s gloriously campy Archangel Gabriel, a misanthropic villain attempting to doom humanity in between bouts of scenery-chewing. Whether the long-rumored Constantine 2 ever actually happens, fans of the source material can at least take solace in the strengths of this effort.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Another ramshackle, meandering effort from Jim Jarmusch, the vampire drama Only Lovers Left Alive more than justifies its offbeat story with stellar performances from Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, as well as an oddly elegiac, bittersweet tone. The story of two vampires gradually wasting away in two cities that they have seen fall to ruin, Detroit and Tangiers, Only Lovers Left Alive is a grim but darkly comical romance that is full of the sense of melancholy that permeates the director’s best work.

While hardly as mainstream as Twilight (although its vampires are similarly tame), Only Lovers Left Alive’s story of a doomed love that has taken centuries to die is a moving, often dryly funny effort from a director whose singular style fits Swinton’s subtle comic timing perfectly. Far from the misjudged antics of The Dead Don’t Die, Only Lovers Left Alive is well worth a watch for fans of slow-burn romantic desolation and almost plot-less atmospheric horror, and it benefits from a charming supporting turn from the late, great Anton Yelchin.

Suspiria

The 2018 remake of the 1977 classic owes almost nothing to Dario Argento’s original Suspiria, replacing that brisk, psychedelic horror’s fast-paced plot with a deliberately measured meditation on life, death, and magic. However, this sharp tonal and aesthetic change doesn’t stop this darkly moving horror movie from being a modern classic in its own right. The 2018 Suspiria sees Tilda Swinton play a male therapist, a witch-led dance school’s lead choreographer, and its aging matron. To call the multiple performances a tour de force would be an understatement, as Swinton gives an alternately playful and intense turn that nails the ever-shifting tone of Luca Guadagnino’s horror movie.

A lengthy, complex affair, Luca Guadagnino’s interpretation of Suspiria trades Dario Argento’s bright colors and screaming score for a muted palette and a haunting soundtrack that fits the story’s gloomy, post-war setting. However, for viewers who enjoy a thoughtful, strange slice of ethereal horror, the Suspiria remake is both a rewarding watch and the best horror movie of Tilda Swinton’s career.

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