10 foreign language horror movies to spook you this Halloween

31/10/2013 | Rachel Hurley

It’s Halloween – a day when it’s perfectly normal to work in an office decorated with fake spider webs and bats, and when nobody blinks an eye if a mini Frankenstein and Dracula knock on the door asking for sweets. If you don’t have a spooky night out planned, why not curl up on the sofa and watch a classic horror movie instead?

Here are ten of our favourite foreign language fright-fests.

Ringu (Japanese)

This 1998 chiller is one of the most well-known of the J-horror genre, and was remade for American audiences in 2001 (The Ring, starring Naomi Watts). As shocks go, it has one of the biggest in its closing moments, and its stripped-back style and modern setting was incredibly influential on future horror film directors.

Nanako Matsushima plays a reporter investigating the deaths of a group of teenagers, all of whom died on the same day and at the same time. She discovers that one week prior to their deaths, the friends rented a cabin, which she heads to and discovers a video cassette that she sits and watches. The tape contains a series of disturbing images, and as it finishes the phone rings, symbolising that she has just a week to live unless she can break the curse.

The Host (South Korean)

Not to be confused with the 2013 American film of the same name (which is based on the Stephenie Meyer novel); The Host is a modern take on the classic monster movie. In fact, this 2006 film, directed by Bong Joon-ho, is just as much a political commentary as it is a scary movie.

As a monster appears in Seoul’s Han River, one man battles to save his daughter from it.

The Devil’s Backbone (Spanish)

Today, director Guillermo del Toro is as well known for his English-language movies like Hellboy and Pacific Rim as he is for the Academy Award-winning Spanish-language dark fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth. However, he started out in horror movies, of which 2001’s The Devil’s Backbone is his most personal.

Set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the film takes place in an orphanage run by Republican loyalists. A 12-year-old boy living at the orphanage begins to have terrifying visions that lead him to uncover the dark secrets tied up in the building’s past.

Audition (Japanese)

This 1999 psychological chiller has a cult following and has been influential in the torture horror genre. In fact, despite not being as graphic as some of its successors, it did prompt some members of the audience to walk out when it was first released.

Widower Shigeharu Aoyama is lonely so decides to hold a casting audition to find a new wife. The woman he falls for seems perfect, but she has a mysterious past and may not be what she seems.

REC (Spanish)

Like the genre-defining The Blair Witch Project, REC is a found footage-style movie shot on hand-held camera. Set in Barcelona, it has since been remade in the US as Quarantine.

The set-up is innocuous enough; a TV reporter and her cameraman are shadowing a team of fire-fighters as they work the night shift. When a call comes in about a person trapped in an apartment, the team arrives and finds the building’s residents have holed up together while one of their neighbours appears to suffer a violent breakdown.

Let the Right One In (Swedish)

Tomas Alfredson’s modern classic puts a whole new spin on the vampire genre. Based on the novel of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist, the movie won numerous awards and was named Best Horror film of 2010 by Empire magazine.

Lonely 12-year-old Oskar is bullied at school. When Eli moves into his building, he leaps at the chance to make a friend his own age, but his neighbour is not all she first seems. This is a slow-burner where the tenderness of the friendship between the central characters belies the real scares to be found here.

Funny Games (Austrian)

This psychological thriller from Austria was released in 1997 and remade in the United States ten years later. It was director Michael Haneke’s original intention to set the movie in America, but this was not possible at the time. Filming in the US in 2007, the director chose to make a shot-for-shot remake of his original movie, with the only differences being the location, actors and language.

Both versions of Funny Games caused controversy upon their respective releases, as a result of their levels of violence. However, the director has claimed he wanted to make a point about violence in the media. The premise of Funny Games is a classic home invasion story, with a family’s idyllic break shattered when two strange young men arrive at their house and force them to play a series of increasingly terrifying games.

Them (French-Romanian)

Like Funny Games, this is a movie set in the place where you should feel safest – the home. While it hasn’t been remade in English, it is said to have been a key influence on Hollywood horror The Strangers, which came out two years later in 2008.

A young couple are disturbed at home by unseen intruders. Upon making their escape, events take a turn for the worse.

Les Diaboliques (French)

This early horror film, which was released in 1955, hasn’t lost any of its power to scare. Despite being nearly 60 years old, it continues to influence horror movie writers and directors, not only for its masterful use of suspense but also its twist ending.

The wife and mistress of a mean boarding school head teacher team up to murder him and make it look like an accident. Everything goes according to plan until his body disappears. With a private investigator on the case, one of the women is driven mad with the fear her victim is still alive and out to expose her.

Nosferatu (German)

Long before movie vampires were sparkling heartthrobs there was Nosferatu, the German Expressionist take on the living dead. This 1922 silent movie is actually based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but key details like the names were changed as the studio did not have the rights to the classic novel.

Thomas Hutter is sent on a mission to visit Count Orlok at his mysterious castle in the Carpathian Mountains. After numerous strange goings-on, Hutter realises his host is a vampire and escapes – but not before the count boards a ship bound for Germany and the city Hutter lives in.

We think one of the above could be the perfect scary movie for you to watch this Halloween. Don’t have nightmares!

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