Movies About West Virginia

Movies About West Virginia (List)

West Virginia has served as a captivating backdrop for numerous films, showcasing its unique Appalachian culture and breathtaking landscapes. From Hollywood blockbusters to thought-provoking documentaries, the state has been a prime location for filmmakers to capture the essence of West Virginia on screen.

Key Takeaways:

  • Movies about West Virginia provide an insight into the state’s culture and history.
  • West Virginia has been the setting for various genres, including crime dramas, biographical films, and documentaries.
  • Films like “The Night of the Hunter,” “Matewan,” “October Sky,” and “The Devil All the Time” have garnered critical acclaim.
  • These movies showcase the unique atmosphere and landscapes of West Virginia.
  • West Virginia’s captivating beauty continues to attract filmmakers from around the world.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Night of the Hunter, directed by Charles Laughton, is considered one of the most critically acclaimed films set in West Virginia. Starring Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, and Lillian Gish, this crime drama film-noir tells the story of a religious fanatic who marries a widow and tries to find stolen money hidden by her late husband.

The plot revolves around the sinister character of Reverend Harry Powell, played by Robert Mitchum, who uses his authority as a preacher to manipulate and terrorize the townspeople. His pursuit of the hidden money leads to a suspenseful and thrilling journey filled with dark secrets and unexpected twists.

Notably, The Night of the Hunter showcases stunning cinematography that captures the beauty of West Virginia’s landscapes and the eerie atmosphere of the story. This visual charm, combined with powerful performances from the cast, including Shelley Winters as the vulnerable widow and Lillian Gish as a strong-willed protector, contributes to the film’s timeless appeal.

With an IMDb rating of 8/10 and a Metacritic score of 99/100, this film is highly regarded by both critics and audiences. It has become a classic in the genre of crime, drama, film-noir, and thriller, leaving a lasting impact on the history of cinema.

Release Year Director Starring Genre Rating (IMDb) Metacritic Score
1955 Charles Laughton Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller 8/10 99/100

Matewan (1987)

“Matewan,” directed by John Sayles, is a powerful drama set in a mining community in West Virginia. The film explores the struggles of the workers and the violence they face from the mining company. Starring Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, and Mary McDonnell, “Matewan” has a rating of 7.9/10 on IMDb and a Metacritic score of 73/100. It delves into the history and social issues of the state.

Main Cast

Actor Role
Chris Cooper Joe Kenehan
James Earl Jones “Few Clothes” Johnson
Mary McDonnell Elma Radnor

Movie Ratings

IMDb: 7.9/10

Metacritic: 73/100

October Sky (1999)

October Sky, directed by Joe Johnston, is a heartwarming biographical drama that follows the story of Homer Hickam, a young boy from a coal mining town in West Virginia who dreams of building rockets. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, and Laura Dern, this film explores themes of ambition, determination, and the pursuit of dreams.

Set in the late 1950s, “October Sky” paints a vivid picture of a tight-knit community where the coal mine is the lifeblood of the town. Despite the expectations for Homer to follow in his father’s footsteps and work in the mine, he becomes inspired by the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik and sets out to pursue his own scientific aspirations.

Homer faces numerous challenges along the way, from his father’s disapproval to the skepticism of his peers. Yet, with the help of his friends and teacher Miss Riley, played by Laura Dern, he perseveres and eventually achieves his dreams.

This heartfelt film highlights the power of determination, friendship, and the pursuit of one’s passions. It expertly blends elements of biography, drama, and family themes, making it a captivating and inspiring watch for audiences of all ages.


Actor Role
Jake Gyllenhaal Homer Hickam
Chris Cooper John Hickam
Laura Dern Miss Riley

October Sky received positive reviews from both critics and audiences. It has a rating of 7.8/10 on IMDb and a Metacritic score of 71/100.

The Devil All the Time (2020)

“The Devil All the Time,” directed by Antonio Campos, is a gripping crime drama set in rural Ohio and West Virginia. This intense thriller follows the lives of various interconnected characters as they navigate themes of faith, violence, and corruption. With its stellar cast including Bill Skarsgård, Tom Holland, and Robert Pattinson, the film delivers powerful performances that keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Bill Skarsgård, known for his role as Pennywise in “It,” portrays a disturbed war veteran struggling with the aftermath of the war. Tom Holland, widely recognized as the Marvel superhero Spider-Man, takes on a darker and grittier role as a young man caught in the web of violence and religious obsession. Robert Pattinson, known for his breakout role in the “Twilight” series, commands attention as a deceptive and charismatic preacher.

“The Devil All the Time” tackles complex themes and examines the darker side of humanity in a spellbinding narrative. The film draws the audience into a world where secrets and sins intertwine, depicting the lengths people will go to protect their loved ones or seek justice.

With a rating of 7.1/10 on IMDb and a Metacritic score of 55/100, “The Devil All the Time” has garnered attention for its intense storytelling and standout performances. It is a must-watch for fans of crime dramas and thrillers who appreciate thought-provoking narratives that delve into the depths of human nature.

Notable Cast:

  • Bill Skarsgård
  • Tom Holland
  • Robert Pattinson


Crime, Drama, Thriller


West Virginia has provided a beautiful and compelling backdrop for numerous films. From the critically acclaimed “The Night of the Hunter” to the inspiring “October Sky” and the gritty “Matewan,” these movies showcase different aspects of West Virginia’s culture, history, and landscapes. Whether exploring the struggles of mining communities or the pursuit of dreams, these films offer a glimpse into the unique atmosphere of the Mountain State.

The Night of the Hunter, set in the 1950s, captivates audiences with its gripping crime story and talented cast, including Robert Mitchum and Lillian Gish. Matewan, a powerful drama directed by John Sayles, delves into the struggles faced by West Virginia’s mining community, with outstanding performances by Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, and Mary McDonnell. October Sky, a heartwarming biographical drama, follows the inspiring journey of a young boy pursuing his passion for rocketry, featuring the talents of Jake Gyllenhaal and Laura Dern. The Devil All the Time, a recent release, takes us into the dark underbelly of rural Ohio and West Virginia with its crime-filled narrative and stellar performances from Bill Skarsgård, Tom Holland, and Robert Pattinson.

These movies not only entertain but also provide a glimpse into the rich history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes of West Virginia. From the haunting beauty of the Appalachian mountains to the gritty mining towns, each film tells a unique story that resonates with audiences. Whether it’s the exploration of faith, the pursuit of dreams, or the struggles faced by communities, these films offer a deeper understanding of West Virginia’s unique atmosphere. Through the lens of talented directors, writers, and actors, West Virginia comes alive on screen, leaving viewers captivated by its beauty and compelled to learn more.


Are there any movies set in West Virginia?

Yes, there have been several movies set in West Virginia that showcase the state’s unique Appalachian culture and stunning landscapes.

What are some examples of films set in West Virginia?

Some examples of movies set in West Virginia include “The Night of the Hunter,” “Matewan,” “October Sky,” and “The Devil All the Time.”

What genres do these West Virginia movies belong to?

The movies set in West Virginia cover a range of genres, including crime drama, film-noir, thriller, drama, history, biography, and family.

Who are some notable actors that have appeared in West Virginia movies?

Notable actors in West Virginia movies include Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, Jake Gyllenhaal, Laura Dern, Bill Skarsgård, Tom Holland, and Robert Pattinson.

Have these movies received critical acclaim?

Yes, many of these movies have received critical acclaim, with high ratings on IMDb and positive reviews from both critics and audiences.

Do these movies explore specific themes or aspects of West Virginia?

Yes, these movies explore various themes and aspects of West Virginia, such as religious fanaticism, mining community struggles, ambition, determination, the pursuit of dreams, faith, violence, and corruption.

What is the appeal of West Virginia as a movie location?

West Virginia’s picturesque landscapes and unique Appalachian culture make it an appealing movie location. The state provides a beautiful backdrop and adds depth to the storytelling.

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