It strikes me how much horror, especially modern horror, relies on darkness to some degree. It’s certainly no surprise. It limits visibility, it’s suffocating. Oftentimes night can signify that nobody is around to notice your plight. Even if you’re not going for the cheap jump scare (as too many horror films try to do), the lack of visibility can be effective.
Is there any horror that, despite being well lit, is still effective? Extra points for an excessively cheery atmosphere. Super extra points if it doesn’t rely on excessive gore to compensate.
Note that I’m going for “intentional horror” here, not some kids show that is trying to be kid friendly but just messed it all up. Also, for our purposes “darkness” includes other methods of explicitly reducing visibility such as fog, mist, and so on.
These certainly exist, I’ve seen them, but I’m largely drawing a blank. Note that I say “visual horror” to exclude written and audio works. I love written horror, but while night is still common in written horror, it’s not nearly as overused in my experience.
The first that comes to mind for me is Night of the Living Dead which takes place mostly in a well lit house, and even the outdoor night scenes are well lit. Of course, we can debate how much NotLD qualifies as “horror” vs “interpersonal drama that happens to involve zombies”, but I’m counting it.
Most of the crap going on in the original Japanese version of One Missed Call (I couldn’t make it more than a few minutes into the American remake) takes place either in the daytime, or in well lit areas - one rather out of place scene takes place in a darkened building, and another much more effective scene in an area with muted lighting, but, mostly daytime, well-lit buildings, or well-lit roads.
Similarly, very little of the Ju-On movies takes place in darkness (thankfully, given how terrible the copy of 2 I used to have was…if more of it was dark, I’d never have been able to follow the damn movie).
(One thing that those have in common - no inhuman monster that might not look as impressive or scary if we get a good look at him…OMC doesn’t really show the malevolent spirit at all, and Ju-On, they’re completely human in appearance…just ghostly white, and, in Kayako’s case, covered in blood.)
Most of Hitchcock’s films are pretty well-lit. Vertigo and Rear Window are well-lit. Psycho, Saboteur, and The Lady Vanishes are too, but they are in B&W. Of course they rely of almost unbearable suspense, as opposed to horror; even most of Psycho is suspense.
The British TV series Utopias is a sort of conspiracy thriller that dips its toe in the horror waters on occasion, but mostly has an aesthetic of brightly lights and bright, primary colors. Pretty gorgeous show.