We’ve seen a lot of amazing foreign horror. Far more than 20 great films, of that there’s no doubt. But what we’re going to attempt to do here is pin down the greatest of the great. And we figured since we’re going to attempt such a bold feat, we’d like to invite you into the discussion. We’ve got a great idea of the 10 films that will occupy the second installment of this article, but our minds are opened to being changed if you’ve got a recommendation that we’re completely missing. So don’t hesitate to weigh in on the killer foreign flicks that aren’t featured in part one of this article!
Now onto our first 10 picks!
Verdict: While the imagery often screams horror the narrative generally screams thriller, in any case, the picture proves very tense and dare I say, sometimes legitimately frightening.
A psychic who can read minds picks up the thoughts of a murderer in the audience and soon becomes a victim. An English pianist gets involved in solving the murders, but finds many of his avenues of inquiry cut off by new murders, and he begins to wonder how the murderer can track his movements so closely.
Verdict: Absolutely brimming with dread, this has probably become the most famous Japanese horror film in existence, and that’s completely justified, as the movie will scare the hell out of you, early and often.
Ruthlessly murdered by her father, the ghost of a seer’s daughter kills all those seven days after they watch the strange contents of a mysterious video tape, unless the viewer finds the escape clause.
Verdict: One of the greatest found footage films out there, [REC] turns what could have been a very run of the mill zombie story into a multi-layered, breakneck speed masterpiece.
“REC” turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station. Receiving a call from an old lady trapped in her house, they reach her building to hear horrifying screams — which begin a long nightmare and a uniquely dramatic TV report.
Verdict: Hands down one of the most entertaining slasher films ever made, Cold Prey, along with its immediate successor, Cold Prey 2 can easily be likened to contemporary renditions of Halloween and Halloween 2. The villain isn’t quite on the Michael Myers level, but literally every other aspect of these films are alarmingly successful.
Jannicke, Morten Tobias, Eirik, Mikal and Ingunn are on a snowboarding vacation in Jotunheimen. They are forced to take shelter in an abandoned hotel when Morten Tobias breaks his leg and their car is too far away for them to reach within nightfall. They quickly discover that the hotel was closed in the seventies due to the disappearance of the managers’ son. Unknown to them, someone is still living in the hotel, and getting home, or even surviving the stay, isn’t as easy as they believe.
Verdict: There are very few films in existence that rival or surpass this particular effort in regards to pure shock and heartbreaking horror. The movie will screw with your head – it really will – as it essentially acts as a combative force to everything natural about life.
Four months before Christmas, Sarah and Matthieu Scarangelo were in a car crash, of which Sarah and her unborn baby were the only survivors. On Christmas Eve, Sarah stays home alone, where she grieves her husband and prepares to go to the hospital the next morning for the delivery. As night falls, a woman knocks on Sarah’s door asking to use the phone. When she refuses, the woman reveals that she knows Sarah and tries to force her way in. Sarah calls the police; they inspect the home and determine the woman has left, but promise to keep watch over Sarah through the night. The woman returns and tries to take Sarah’s unborn child, but Sarah locks herself in the bathroom. The strange woman torments Sarah through the night and kills all who try help her.
Verdict: The greatest home invasion film to be released since the criminally underrated Wait Until Dark, Them is all about fear and senselessness coming together in a marriage of unrelentingly realistic horror.
Clémentine, a teacher in a French School in Bucharest, lives with her husband, Lucas, in a remote real estate in Snagov. During the night, Clémentine is woken by weird noises outside their house, and Lucas sees their car being stolen. The lights are turned off, the phones are disconnected and they see that they are no longer alone. When weird lights appear outside, they hide in the cellar and try to ask for help from what could be a dreadful night of pure terror…
A Serbian Film
Verdict: Not even Inside can rival the shock and awe that this Serbian stunner invokes. It’s completely mind blowing, and it will have your stomach engaging in serious acrobatics. To call it disgusting is a supreme understatement, and to call it disturbing doesn’t even begin to come close to really hammering home how nauseating this film can be. I won’t watch it a second time, but I will admit that I have a great respect for the technical merits of the picture.
In Serbia, the retired porn star Milos is married with his beloved wife Marija and they have a little son, Peter, that is their pride and joy. The family is facing financial difficulties, but out of the blue, Milos is contacted by the porn actress Lejla that offers him a job opportunity in an art film. Milos is introduced to the director Vukmir that offers a millionaire contract to Milos to act in a film. However, Vukmir neither show the screenplay nor tell the story to Milos. Milos discuss the proposal with Marija and he signs the contract. But sooner he finds that Vukmir and his crew are involved in sick snuff films of pedophilia, necrophilia and torture and there is no way back to him and maybe it is too late to protect his family.
Verdict: Godzilla may be the first beast you think of when contemplating great foreign monster movies, but Korea’s The Host is downright stellar. The story moves at a beautifully measured pace, the characters are amazing and the visual effects still rank among the best in existence today, 11 years after being made. Did I mention it’s an absolute blast?
The film revolves around Park Hee-bong, a man in his late 60s. He runs a small snack bar on the banks of the Han River and lives with his two sons, one daughter, and one granddaughter. The Parks seem to lead a quite ordinary and peaceful life, but maybe they are a bit poorer than the average Seoulite. Hee-bong’s elder son Gang-du is an immature and incompetent man in his 40s, whose wife left home long ago. Nam-il is the youngest son, an unemployed grumbler, and daughter Nam-joo is an archery medalist and member of the national team. One day, an unidentified monster suddenly appears from the depths of the Han River and spreads panic and death, and Gang-du’s daughter Hyun-seo is carried off by the monster and disappears. All of the family members are in a great agony because they lost someone very dear to them. But when they find out she is still alive, they resolve to save her.
Noroi: The Curse
Verdict: Kôji Shiraishi’s Japanese masterpiece runs a little long at 115 minutes, but it’s often so realistic that the time doesn’t slow down, it just morphs into different degrees of fear. Although the idea behind the film should probably be pretty flimsy, it finds a way to come together in a legitimately haunting package.
A documentary filmmaker explores seemingly unrelated paranormal incidents connected by the legend of an ancient demon called the “kagutaba.”
Let the Right One In
Verdict: Let the Right One In touches on just about every emotion conceivable. It’s terrifying. It’s profoundly melancholy. There are sprinkles of youthful humor and a hefty dash of coming-of-age awareness. There’s an interesting period nostalgia that permeates the production in seamless fashion. All this, and it has the most petrifying swimming pool scene ever put to film. You need to see it; not the American remake, the Swedish masterwork.
Oskar, a bullied 12-year old, dreams of revenge. He falls in love with Eli, a peculiar girl. She can’t stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited. Eli gives Oskar the strength to hit back but when he realizes that Eli needs to drink other people’s blood to live he’s faced with a choice. How much can love forgive? Set in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982.