RECOMMENDATIONS: Top Five International Scary Movies

Need a scare that takes you away from North America? Then check this list out.

A true horror film connoisseur knows many of the scariest movies aren’t found on the North American continent. Japan has had a great run with so many horror films in the last fifteen years or so (I could have easily done a top five list on Japanese horror/thriller cinema). There were others I couldn’t include on this list because they went a little too far in terms of how inappropriate they are, but these are just a sampling of international terror flicks that will rob you of your sleep.

As with this series: spoilers ahead, and some people may find the content disturbing in some of these trailers. You’ve been warned.

5/Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014)

Country of Origin: Norway

This one straddles a few lines: horror-comedy, to be precise, but it’s about a guy on the run from zombies. Oh, sorry…Nazi zombies. He also tries to make contact with a group of American zombie enthusiasts to help him escape their undead wrath. I actually watched this one on Netflix  a few months ago, and it’s okay to watch the second without having seen the first. The second movie gives you a good idea of what happened in the first movie. A little bizarre at times, but the make-up and the action scenes are worth the watch.

4/Audition (1999)

Country of Origin: Japan

A movie guaranteed to take you aback. A widower wants to date again, and his friend suggests he hold auditions to find his next girlfriend. He becomes enchanted by a dancer; what he doesn’t know is said dancer is bananas.

All you need to know is the woman lives in an empty apartment with an old telephone and a sack…that moves. Just hearing her talk  is enough to gross you out. Apparently this movie is getting an American remake.

3/A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

Country of Origin: Korea

Based on a folk tale, this story is about two sisters who, after coming back from their stay in a psychiatric hospital, experience disturbing events surrounding them and their stepmother.

An American version, The Uninvited, came out in 2009, but I would say that version is toned down compared to the original version. The Korean version is more cerebral in nature in that it grabs a hold of your subconscious for a night or two, and doesn’t let go. After watching this, you’ll sleep with your bedroom closet doors closed. Trust me. I’ve been there.

2/Ringu (1998)

Country of Origin: Japan

The most cerebral horror movie I’ve ever watched. It’s the origin film for the American version released in 2002 (starring Naomi Watts). The Japanese version is similar to the American one, but this one is not shy in its depiction of gore. There are also a few plot differences. Ringu has also had an extensive series run; the most recent film released in Japan in 2013. I would say Ringu was the stepping stone for  a change in what we saw in the horror genre. With the remake in America, we saw a shift in a focus on horror-slasher genre, to an increasing interest in the psychological-horror genre (which eventually evolved into the found-footage genre).

1/REC (2007)

Country of Origin: Spain

Speaking of the found footage genre, this movie set the bar for all the found footage movies we know and love (or hate) today. Firefighters respond to an ‘unclassified’ call that turns out to deal with people infected by a strange virus.

It was released just a month before Paranormal Activity’s original release at Screamfest, and came out about eight years after The Blair Witch Project (1999), but this movie took the genre to the top with its ‘shaky camera’ style. It’s a technique that the likes of Cloverfield (2008) would become famous for a year later. REC came out as Quarantine in the US in 2008.

Honourable Mentions: Ju-on (the original version of The Grudge).

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