Top 5 International Horror Films
One of the original masters of the horror genre, H.P. Lovecraft, once said:“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear”.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of our absolute favourite horror movies from across the world for you to enjoy…
Let the Right One In: Swedish
When done right, vampires can be an excellent outlet for horror as well as storytelling in general, and without a doubt, this contribution from Sweden gave new life to the genre in a time when it was needed most.
Set amongst the cold and clinical backdrop of Stockholm, Let the Right One In looks gorgeous and its fantastic, crisp, cinematography makes the underwhelming American remake released two years after seem even more redundant.
Let The Right One in is essence a deeply moving yet unsettling love story between the viciously bullied 12-year-old Oskar and the mysterious, pale, new girl in town Eli.
Dripping with melancholy and told with a subtly and intelligence, this movie lacks the terror of some of the others on this list but instead secures its place with masterful storytelling which juxtaposes the innocence of childhood with the violence and loneliness that comes with the curse of vampirism.
Ring (1998): Japanese
This classic oozes tension and suspense, cementing its place as one of the most influential and chilling horror films ever made. We follow a television journalist as she attempts to unravel the mystery of a VHS tape which causes its viewers to die seven days after watching it.
Despite such a simple premise however, the haunting aspect of waiting for the inevitable works brilliantly by creating a ceaseless tension to the film and no doubt inspiring countless future movies such as It Follows.
And it’s not just the stellar atmosphere that makes this instalment memorable, the supernatural aspects of the deaths and even the subtle imagery of the VHS itself are utterly terrifying and won’t let you tear horrified eyes away for a second.
Restraint can be a powerful tool for the horror genre, particularly supernatural horror where showing the monster/ghost/whatever for too long can lead to its effect being dramatically reduced. Ring, however, knows just how to keep us waiting and it pays off when we finally confront the now famous vengeful spirit in all its horrific glory.
The found footage (or shaky camera) technique has become an increasingly common method of storytelling and has even become somewhat overused since the dawn of the Paranormal Activity franchise. But when done correctly it can be a hugely effective technique to tell a truly terrifying and intense horror story.
And REC certainly does it correctly. What begins as a seemingly dull and monotonous attempt by a TV journalist to document the lives of the Barcelona Fire Brigade quickly turns into a nightmarish rollercoaster with an intensity seldom met by other films in the genre. Set almost entirely in the claustrophobic confines of an apartment building which becomes completely sealed off as the residents rampage in a cannibalistic madness.
While the violence is truly shocking at times it’s in the masterful use of tension that REC truly shines. Through the found footage format you feel as though you’re right there with the characters as they run for their lives and question their predicament in equally tension filled scenes. All in all a good, fast paced, horror with ‘zombies’ that would make those in 21 Days Later look away in shame at their ineptitude.
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night: Iranian Farsi
From its origins to its presentation, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is steeped in multiple cultures. Becoming known as “The first Iranian vampire Western,” Iranian-American writer/director Ana Lily’s creation blurs the lines between genre and reality.
Filmed in California, spoken in Persian and set in Iran, this black and white beauty is at times a vicious vampire horror, and at other times a monochrome romance steeped in pop culture and a helping of girl power.
Fantastic performances and beautiful and unique style make this addition far from just another vampire flic. But despite all its charm, when it comes down to it, this film has the ferocity and chilling atmosphere to rival the best in the genre while at the same time redefining it completely.
Under The Shadow: Iranian
Set in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war, this intelligent horror has been compared to modern heavyweights such as The Babadook and it’s easy to see why.
Premiering early in 2016 at the Sundance Festival, the film follows a mother as she attempts to shield her daughter from the aerial bombardments and something far more sinister while her husband fights in the war.
In addition to its mastery of intense, fast paced horror, the movie manages to maintain an intelligent and spooky undertone as well as delivering a socio-political commentary all at the same time.
And a lot of this is down to the impressive talent of the cinematographer, Kit Fraser, whose surreal visual aesthetic plunges us into the waking nightmare experienced by the characters.