It’s that time of year when the days are getting shorter and the nights just a tad bit longer every day. That time when the air smells like campfire and sticky, wet leaves. And all you want to do at the end of a long day is put on your comfy clothes, nestle under a blanket and watch a movie. Well what better time than now to watch a film you haven’t seen before?
Since the beginning of film horror films have been a staple of filmmaking. The ability to evoke such a response from a viewer—one that is purely natural when one is scared out their wits—is the hallmark of a truly great filmmaker, and a truly great film. These films have no borders. Whether from the United States, Spain or Japan…these films can scare you silly in any language.
So, let’s start our globe-trekking on the continent of Asia. Japan and Korea have squarely cornered the creepy market. Japanese films such as RINGU (1998) have been remade by North American filmmakers, with the 2002 American blockbuster THE RING. The most recent remake is JU-ON: THE GRUDGE (2002) which was remade not once, but twice in the American counterparts THE GRUDGE (2004) and THE GRUDGE (2020). Honorable mention for the Takashi Miike film, THE AUDITION (1999). Korea boasts some of the creepiest horror films of any nation, not to mention some of the highest earning. TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016) for instance made over $98.5 million when the action-horror film was released. Other South Korean action-horror films include THE HOST (2006) written and directed by none-other than Oscar-winning director Bong Joon Ho. If psychological horror is more your thing then A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003) is a good choice. And if you’re looking for supernatural, try the Thai film SHUTTER (2004) which also got an American remake upon it’s release.
Spain, Italy and France dominate our list of must-see movies from Europe. Starting with Spain we recommend the “found footage” film [REC] (2007) and the supernatural film THE ORPHANAGE (2007). Not quite a pure horror film, but creepy none-the-less is THE SKIN I LIVE IN (2011) starring Antonio Banderas. Guillermo Del Toro directs THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE (2006), which was independently produced by Pedro Almodóvar—pretty good combo for any genre of film. Del Toro produced JULIA’S EYES (2010) for Spain as well. Moving to France we have INSIDE (2007) which bring pregnancy scare to a whole new level. A blast from the past is DIABOLIQUE (1955) is Henri-Georges Clouzot’s psychological horror film. A more recent French masterpiece is RAW (2016) which will have you questioning your food preferences. And In 1977, Italy’s Dario Argento brought us SUSPERIA, which was remade in America in 2018. Argento also brought DEEP RED (1975) which currently has a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
If reading subtitles isn’t your thing then take note of these English-language films. THE BABADOOK is an Australian film by first-time director Jennifer Kent that THE EXORCIST director William Friedkin (yes thaaat EXORCIST (1973)) has admitted is his favorite horror film. Another Australasian film is the New Zealand mockumentary WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014) which led to the Amazon Prime show of the same name. Not quite scary, but worth a look. Another Kiwi film that’s a bit lighter is the Peter Jackson directed film BRAINDEAD (1992) or DEAD ALIVE in the United States which is a slapstick zombie comedy. Turning to the British Isles we have GWEN (2018) a British supernatural horror that sure to creep you out. Some honorable mentions for British spookiness are THE VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED (1960), GHOSTWATCH (1992) and 28 DAYS LATER (2002). On to North America…here’s a few Canadian creep-fests PONTYPOOL (2008), GINGER SNAPS (2000), MAMA (2013), THE WITCH (2015) and most recently Brandon Christensen’s Z (2019). Last but not least we have the United States. I could list all the wonderful American titles but I think I’ll save that for another time.
This fall enjoy a few horror-related movie nights. Choose a film from this article and prepare to be scared, intrigued and creeped out.