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Anya Taylor-Joy Is The Most Versatile Actresses In Horror

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Key Takeaways

Anya Taylor-Joy showcases her remarkable versatility across a spectrum of horror and thriller films, from the eerie folk horror of The Witch to the psychological twists of Last Night in Soho.
Through her roles in Marrowbone, The Menu, and The Northman, Taylor-Joy proves she can navigate both the supernatural and the psychodramatic, earning her a spot as a standout actress in modern horror cinema.
From her early, uncredited role in Vampire Academy to her leading performances in critically acclaimed films, Taylor-Joy’s career trajectory highlights her ability to bring complex, dark characters to life with intensity and nuance.
Anya Taylor-Joy Is The Most Versatile Actresses In Horror 1

It is astonishing how rapidly the Golden Globe-winning actress Anya Taylor-Joy’s profile has risen in popular film culture. She’s a lead actor with a versatile range who can move across diverse genres, and she’s been the lead of ground-breaking films. These box-office successes include Robert Eggers’ folk-horror The Witch (2015) and historical action-epic The Northman (2022), as well as Edgar Wright’s retro slasher-thriller Last Night in Soho (2021). 

Ironically, given her super-star status, the Florida-born actress’ film career didn’t have the most dazzling start. Anya Taylor-Joy made her feature-film debut in 2014 in the slapstick horror comedy Vampire Academy. Mark Waters’ vampire film is a mishmash of supernatural horror and high-school comedy and eventually bombed at the box office. This was no loss for Taylor-Joy since she only featured in a background role that was eventually sliced from the film’s final cut.

Taylor-Joy’s leading role in Eggers’ spooky folk horror The Witch first propelled her to stardom. This film first captured her acting talent and ability to channel both wide-eyed innocence and dark, malevolent energy into her performances. This ability has made her a memorable on-screen presence that audiences have wanted to see again and again. 

Taylor-Joy’s profile is set to shine even brighter with the release of George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga (2024). In anticipation of Furiosa’s release next month, we’ve shone a spotlight on her most memorable film performances. Frankly, we tried to rank them from best to worst, but it’s a testament to Taylor-Joy’s versatility that we recommend checking out all her films, especially the ones below.

The Witch (2015)

Anya Taylor-Joy The Witch
A24

 Ana Taylor-Joy’s eye-catching acting roles have included a range of genres and film types. It seems only fitting that one of her first big screen roles was for one of contemporary cinema’s most adventurous directors. In Robert Eggers’ memorable folk horror The Witch, Taylor-Joy stars as a young girl living in 17th-century Puritan New England.

She plays Thomasin, the daughter of ferocious English settler William and his wife Katherine, who are banished from their Puritan settlement. Even the Puritans find William extreme in his beliefs. The family lives on the edge of a forest and seemingly the edge of civilization. The couple lives with their children, including Thomasin, son Caleb, twins Marcy and Jonas, and newborn baby Samuel.

After the disappearance of the baby Samuel, the family begins to unravel into a whirlwind of suspicion and paranoia. The lines between reality and hallucination seem to blur as their crops fail and the children fall sick—sightings of a supposed witch fan their fear. 

Taylor-Joy’s striking performance navigates the high-level tension in Eggers’s screenplay. Suspicion quickly falls on Thomasin, and accusations of witchcraft simmer in the claustrophobic walls of the rural home. Taylor Joy maintains an ideal balance between shocked innocence as the accused girl and an unnerving presence that makes the audience doubt her story. The Witch is a perfect film for Halloween viewing, and Taylor-Joy is a suitably spooky presence that matches the slow, eerie feel of Eggers’ film.

The Witch

The Witch

In 1630, a farmer relocates his family to a remote plot of land on the edge of a forest where strange, unsettling things happen. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, each family member’s faith, loyalty and love are tested in shocking ways.

Marrowbone (2017)

Anya Taylor-Joy Marrowbone
Universal Pictures

 Of all the Anya Taylor-Joy films, Marrowbone is one of the more conventional ones. This is not to criticize Sánchez’s psychological horror film. Taylor-Joy fits into the atmospheric Gothic story of an English family forced to flee their home country for an ancestral home in coastal Maine.

 Family matriarch (Nicola Harrison) hopes they’ll be safe in Maine after an unnamed traumatic event involving the children’s father back in England. However, her ailing health soon declines, and she becomes terminally sick before dying after arriving in Maine. She leaves daughter Jane (Mia Goth), and his brothers Billy (Charlie Heaton) and Sam (Matthew Stagg) to fend for themselves along with their eldest brother Jack (George McKay). The siblings are forced to take extreme measures to hide their mother’s death as they wait for Jack’s 21st birthday when he can become the formal guardian of his siblings and inherit the house.

 Taylor-Joy plays a local girl, Allie, who falls into a romantic relationship with Jack. Allie becomes responsible for maintaining the family illusion against the suspicions of local townsfolk. Taylor-Joy is an unusually warm presence in the film, especially in contrast to the other siblings. She gives the film a comforting presence that glues the casts together and is essential for Marrowbone‘s plot of the film. Marrowbone is more satisfying on a second viewing, and Sánchez has an attention to detail that is richer and more memorable during the second-time round. The audience can catch new little details in Taylor-Joy’s performance that contribute to the storytelling.

Marrowbone

Marrowbone

A young man and his three younger siblings are plagued by a sinister presence in the sprawling manor in which they live.

Last Night in Soho (2021)

Anya Taylor-Joy Last Night in Soho
Universal Pictures / Focus Features

Taylor-Joy truly comes into her own in Edgar Wright’s psychological thriller set amongst the nostalgic bright lights of 1960s Beatles-era London. Taylor-Joy plays Sandy, a glamorous and ambitious cabaret singer, Sandy, looking to make it in the West End. When she meets Jack, a charismatic agent (played by Doctor Who’s Matt Smith), she thinks her dreams are on the cusp of coming true. She only realizes the truth when she’s drawn into a seedy world of escorts and private dancers and finds out that Jack is more of a pimp than an agent. 

Last Night in Soho flashbacks to modern-day London, where fashion student Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) is haunted by visions of Sandy’s dark life in 1960s London. When events take a gory turn, Eloise races against the clock to find out what happened to Sandy.

As we have seen in her earlier films, Taylor-Joy can capture ethereal innocence with an edgy sense of danger that seems to drive the film’s story forward effortlessly. Her presence enhances the most memorable moments of Last Night in Soho. Taylor-Joy is a scene-stealer whose captivating images fit rights into Swinging Sixties London. 

Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho

A young girl, passionate about fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to be falling apart with shady consequences.

The Menu (2022)

Anya Taylor-Joy The Menu
Searchlight Pictures

Modern-day cinema has a growing number of kill-the-rich horrors and psychological thrillers. Taylor-Joy adds an extra spark to this revenge thriller film by Mark Mylod. Ralph Fiennes plays a world-famous Chef Slowik who owns a twelve-acre resort, Hawthorn Island, catering to highly wealthy and exclusive customers. Hawthorn Island only caters to twelve people per night, and the live-in employees spend every waking hour preparing meals and anticipating the needs of their customers.

Taylor-Joy plays Margot, the date of an ambitious foodie, Tyler (played by Nicholas Hoult). Tyler would do anything for a night at Chef Slowik’s restaurant. Unfortunately for the couple, as they join the other ten exclusive customers, they have selected a night when Chef Slowik has decided he has had enough of his entitled clientele. 

Slowik is prepared to serve a grisly menu for his guests. The film’s elaborate set-updoesn’t outshine Taylor-Joy’s performance. She has great chemistry with Hoult and their tense back-and-forth crackles onscreen. Taylor-Joy brings a mix of wit and cynicism, which is the perfect foil for Hoult’s enthusiastic and slightly dim upper-class fool.

The Menu

The Menu

A young couple travels to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

The Northman (2022)

alexander skarsgard anya taylor joy the northman 1649252710
Focus Features / Universal Pictures

Taylor-Joy’s becoming something of a fixture in Eggers’ filmmaking. In The Northman, she plays a pivotal role in a violent, chaotic, brutal revenge story adapted from the Old Norse legend of Amleth. Amleth is a young nobleman intent on avenging the uncle who murdered his father. This is a very familiar story if you know Hamlet or The Lion King).

The Northman is an example of in-your-face filmmaking by Robert Eggers. Taylor-Joy plays Olga, the hero’s love interest who is drawn into a whirlwind of a story featuring sex, bloodshed, and epic battles. She looks like she has stepped straight out of a Björk music video and perfectly fills the fierce heroine role. It’s fitting that Taylor-Joy returned to Eggers for this role in The Northman as the director who gave her a memorable breakout role in The Witch.

The Northman

The Northman

Prince Amleth is on the verge of becoming a man when his father is brutally murdered by his uncle, who kidnaps the boy’s mother. Two decades later, Amleth is now a Viking who’s on a mission to save his mother, kill his uncle and avenge his father.

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