When I think of American horror movies I think of the old standby slasher flicks. I’m not saying that I’m tired of American horror by any means. You simply need to look at Sinister, Insidious and Paranormal Activity for fresh blood in this genre. Horror is not even native to US cinema. I blame the Germans, personally. They first adapted the Dracula story with Nosferatu and before that came up with the first horror movie twist with The Cabinet of Dr Caligari.
Now each nation has its own brand of horror. You can’t think of J-horror without picturing a spooky dark haired contortionist. The Spanish have their slow burn Guillermo Del Toro haunted house films. The Norwegians mess with found footage and giant trolls. And let’s not forget the French, who outdo even the US in terms of blood and gore. (For proof, see Martyrs…well only see it if you have a strong stomach and you don’t care about feeling hopeless for 3 weeks).
The following foreign language scary movies are some of my favorite and still haunt me. If you are a horror buff and haven’t seen these yet, what are you waiting for?
|“He never ‘saw’ me coming! See what I did there!?”|
This 2003 French film is one of the bloodiest in recent memory. It revolves around the main character Marie, who is staying at the home of her best friend, Alex, and her family, for the weekend. While the family is sleeping, a burly man breaks into the house and starts slaughtering the family. Marie is able to sneak down to Alex’s room and finds her handcuffed to the foot of the bed. Marie promises to save her, but hides under the bed as she hears the killer approaching. After the killer takes the bloodied Alex and drives off. Marie gets in her car and takes chase.
When Marie and the killer finally come to blows it is a knock-down-drag-out fight and ends up being a girl power moment. Once this movie shows the killer breaking in, it does not let up for a second. It demands your attention. The only downside is the twist ending. It did not need it, and was sadly only tacked on because Luc Besson thought it would be a good idea.
|“Grandma! You’re embarrassing me in front of my friends again!”|
A 2007 Spanish film. Rec is short for Record, and I hate to break it to you, but this is a found footage movie. But, being made 2 years before Paranormal Activity, it cannot be accused of jumping on the bandwagon. This movie begins with a late-night TV documentary crew doing a story of Barcelona’s fire fighters. When they get a distress call, we follow them with the host, Maria, to an apartment complex. It doesn’t take too long for people to get bitten and tossed down stairways before this starts to get real ugly. And it doesn’t help that the government has locked the apartment down and the survivors have no hope of escape.
This is a zombie movie essentially. If you get bit, it’s only a matter of time before you become infected and become a little bitey yourself. This movie never lets up. It’s the closest thing to playing a fast zombie video game on the big screen. There is an American remake called Quarantine, but don’t bother, it’s worth it to read the subtitles and stick with the original.
|“I didn’t know this job required any heavy lifting.”|
I recently discovered this 2010 Korean serial killer movie on Netflix and I still have not been able to forget it. Don’t be fooled by the title, this isn’t an exorcism movie. I don’t want to ruin too much of the plot, but it centers around an aging serial killer who butchers stranded girls. When the film begins, he kills a girl who just happens to be engaged to an efficient secret service agent, who, in turn, swears revenge. So this movie follows the fiance as he stalks the killer and makes his life a nightmare.
The deaths in this movie are brutal. And this movie just goes to show that maybe it’s best to dispatch Dirty Harry justice when seeking revenge. Because if you keep allowing a killer to stay alive, it may come back to bite you. Nothing beats a cat and mouse game where you never know who is the cat and who is the mouse.
|“You should see the other guy.”|
This 2009 Swedish vampire movie is billed as being a “romantic horror” film. And that’s no lie. This movie came out of nowhere and is really the anti-Twilight. Yes, there’s a love story here, but it’s so much more disturbing than that. Oskar is probably 12 or 13 and living in the trashy suburbs of Stockholm. One winter night he meets a girl around his age named Eli. Let’s just say that Eli has a taste for blood and goes to sleep during the day. This story is very layered as we find out about Eli’s need of a constant companion and how Eli handles the bullies that always give Oskar a hard time.
Any time you start to get comfortable, something startling happens and you forget about the preteen relationship these two share. I’m in the minority here, but I prefer the American remake just slightly over this one. It removes a lot of the European-ness (weird sexual stuff) from the Swedish version.
|“This will hurt you more than it will hurt me…”|
This 1999 Japanese psychological horror movie cannot be unseen. It is required viewing for any horror fan out there. Essentially, an old widower is being pressured by his movie producer friends and his son to get back in the dating game. So his friend holds a casting audition so they can find this widower a future wife. He is immediately attracted to a socially-inept girl whose resume is very shady. None of her references can be reached, and he goes against the advice of his friends and pursues her. For 4 days she sits near her phone in an nearly empty apartment, and you can glimpse a very large sack next to her.
This movie is quite slow for 45 minutes but something about it always feels “off.” You’ll have a heavy feeling of uneasiness. That moment when she gets the phone call she was waiting for…and the bag starts to move, is an unforgettably terrifying moment. Who is this girl? And what is her goal? The movie doesn’t let up after that scene and ends with a stomach churning climax. It’s a great Japanese horror flick that doesn’t involve the use of gratuitous, strangling dark hair.