Top 10 Movie Towns That Hiding A Dark Secret
Written by Laura Keating
Creepy towns or villages from movies that mask a secret that is shocking to find out! WatchMojo presents the top 10 Towns with creepy hidden secrets. But what will take our top spot? Will it be The Wicker Man's Summerisle, The Truman Show's Seahaven, or Hot Fuzz's Sanford? Watch to find out!
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You might want to scratch these eerie towns off of your travel itinerary. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movie towns with a dark secret.
For this list, we’ll be discussing the most mysterious towns in film that have more to hide than some bad online reviews. Since we’re talking secrets here, spoilers are ahead. Hey, at least we’re giving you fair warning; that’s more than some of these unfortunate souls got!
#10: Midwich, England
After waking from a mysterious bout of unconsciousness that affected the entire village of Midwich, the women of childbearing age are shocked to discover they’re all pregnant. Later, they all give birth to children with strikingly similar dark eyes and white hair. As they grow, these children are found to be both physically and intellectually advanced, but incapable of empathy or love. Eventually the town can only watch in terror as their precocious progeny develops the power not only to control events, but also to kill with their minds. Fearing what might happen if the unearthly children were ever to enter the greater world, drastic measures are taken to stop them. That’s a dark secret we’d try to keep too…
“Village of the Damned” (1960)
#9: Covington, Pennsylvania
“Never enter the woods: that is where they wait” is the second of the three tenets the inhabitants of Covington, a small 19th Century village, live by in order to survive. The Elders warn the town’s residents that beyond the woods are both evil creatures as well as wicked neighboring villages that would do them harm. One day, when Lucius Hunt is terribly injured, it’s decided that the chief Elder’s blind daughter, Ivy Walker, will go to get the required medicine for him by leaving the isolated town. We won’t totally spoil it for you here, but what the Elders have really been hiding outside the deep woods is a classic M. Night Shyamalan twist.
“The Village” (2004)
#8: East Proctor, England
There’s nothing jolly about this English village. When two American backpackers arrive in the isolated town of East Proctor, they’re given a less than friendly welcome. Coming in from the cold of the moors, the travelers attempt to warm themselves at the local pub, “The Slaughtered Lamb,” where they notice a strange symbol on the wall – though they’re shunned when they ask about it and decide to skedaddle. However, the townspeople soon realize there’s a full moon and – fully aware of the dangers lurking on the moors – attempt to find the two Americans, but arrive too late. Even though we know what’s coming thanks to the film’s title, this town’s werewolf secret reveals itself in a big way.
“An American Werewolf in London” (1981)
#7: The Ozarks
Centered on 17-year-old Ree Dolly, this story is set in a rural community deep in Ozark mountain country – one that may look like any normal mountain, but that’s hiding many dark secrets. A refreshingly original take on the town-with-a-secret trope, “Winter’s Bone” unflinchingly explores themes of family, poverty, drug use, and the illegal drug trade in rural America. As Ree works against the clock to unravel the mystery of her father’s disappearance, she finds herself increasingly tangled in her town’s secret world of illegal methamphetamine production, and finds out just how far some people will go to keep the business to themselves – even if it means crossing kith and kin.
“Winter’s Bone” (2010)
#6: Antonio Bay, California
While the city’s gearing up for its centennial celebration, ghostly events begin to plague the residents of Antonio Bay. But the town’s secret is uncovered when it’s discovered that 100 years earlier, the town’s founders were involved in a murderous plot: they forced the Elizabeth Dane, a clipper ship loaded with gold, into shallow waters. The ship sank, the crew drowned, and the gold was looted. It was then used to build the town – and buy the thieves some credibility. But skeletons in the closet – or in this case, ghosts – always come out. Now, a century later, an unnatural fog descends on Antonio Bay, concealing the vengeful ghosts of the slain sailors as they stalk the murderous founders’ descendants.
“The Fog” (1980)
#5: Stepford, Connecticut
The old adage, “Happy wife, happy life” was taken to dark, twisted places in this 1975 classic. Set in the idyllic town of Stepford, the story follows Joanna and Walter Eberhart who’ve just moved there. The adventurous Joanna soon finds herself bored, as all the women of Stepford are unnaturally perfect and obsessed with housework. Confused by this odd and submissive behavior, Joanna and her new friend Bobbie investigate other places to live – when Bobbie abruptly starts acting like all the others. It’s not long before Joanna makes a startling discovery about her new home: all the Stepford wives have been replaced with obedient robot replicas. Her only option is to escape, but there’s yet another surprise in store.
“The Stepford Wives” (1975)
#4: Springwood, Ohio
The titular street may be more recognizable, but it’s the fictitious Midwestern town of Springwood, Ohio that makes this list. There, teens are hunted down and murdered in their dreams by Wes Craven’s most iconic creation, Freddy Krueger. Not just a random supernatural psycho, Freddy is seeking revenge on the teens’ parents for his own untimely death. Y’see, Krueger was a child predator who avoided jail on a technicality, so the parents of Springwood banded together to kill him. Of course, they didn’t realize they’d be unleashing an even more terrifying monster on their kids… Worse yet, the parents kept secret what they’d done, and did not reveal the truth until some of Nancy Thompson’s friends were already dead.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
#3: Seahaven, Florida
Truman Burbank has a great job, friendly neighbors, and a beautiful, loving wife. He’s lived on Seahaven his entire life, but recently things seem… off; just a little too perfect. In fact, too much of the town’s daily life seems to be centered on him specifically, as if he’s being watched… But it’s not just his sunny little town that’s watching him; it’s the whole world. Truman slowly begins to discover the cracks in his reality, leading him to question everything about the people he thought he knew and the town he called home. But the closer he gets to the truth, the harder those pulling the strings in the great production of his life fight to keep their star.
“The Truman Show” (1998)
#2: Sandford, Gloucestershire, England
When top London police officer Nicholas Angel is transferred to the sleepy town of Sandford, he thinks he’ll be bored to death; everyone, including his new boss, is quaint, and the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (or NWA), does a good job of keeping the town as peaceful as a garden party. But turns out, it might not be boredom that kills him. With the “Village of the Year” award ceremony fast approaching, a string of local murders suddenly keeps Angel busier than ever. But what does it all mean? Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost would return six years later for another perfect-village-with-a-secret flick, “The World’s End,” showing what happens when a night of pub-crawling becomes a fight for humanity.
“Hot Fuzz” (2007)
Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Potter’s Bluff, New England
“Dead and Buried” (1981)
- Derry, Maine
- Gatlin, Nebraska
“Children of the Corn” (1984)
#1: Summerisle, Scotland
Combining an isolated location, pagan sacrifice, and ancient rituals performed with unmistakable glee and reverence, Summerisle has many secrets, and the whole island is in on them. After learning about the disappearance of a child on the remote island, Neil Howie sets off to investigate. A devout Christian, he is shocked upon arrival to learn of their pagan ways. The mystery thickens when, after being questioned, the inhabitants of the island insist that the girl he is looking for never existed. Certain that there is more going on, Howie digs deeper, eventually infiltrating one of their sacred rituals. But because of his meddling, he inadvertently gets himself twisted up in the darkest town secret of all.
“The Wicker Man” (1973)
Do you agree with our list? Which town’s secret is your favorite? For more Top Tens published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.