While Hollywood tends to dominate the world of cinema, it is important and necessary to reflect on the releases outside of major American production houses. Even if you don’t think you’ve ever seen a foreign horror movie, you’ve probably seen a U.S. remake or at the very least a domestic film that was heavily influenced by an international filmmaker. Each from a different country, the following are some of our favorites.

We Are What We Are (Mexico)

This 2010 film by Jorge Michel Grau brings a more emotional take on cannibalism. A family must learn how to carry on when it’s patriarch (and hunter) passes away. It takes on a darker, more familial tone than its American remake.

The Orphanage (Spain)

The Orphanage is some of Guillermo Del Toro’s finest work as a producer. It’s an expertly crafted fairytale that pushes audiences to explore dark, heavy themes. It’s an emotional driven bit of horror with an undeniable effectiveness.

Martyrs (France)

In Martyrs, the French prove yet again why they’re the masters of modern, extreme, splatter drama. Martyrs tells the tale of a secret society hell bent on discovering if there is life after death. These people will stop at nothing to find out the age-old mystery.

Funny Games (Austria)

This 1997 Austrian film went beyond its years to show how far people will go to exploit others for their own entertainment. This loose interpretation of reality television gone wrong follows a family on vacation who, unfortunately, come in contact with two sadistic men.

Let the Right One In (Sweden)

This adorable-but-a-little-spooky tale of love, friendship, bullying, and vampirism has been wowing viewers since its release in 2008. With beautiful cinematography and a charming plot, it is a must-see for fans of the genre. While we wouldn’t quite call it “family friendly,” we recommend this flick for people who may not have a high tolerance for horror.

Opera (Italy)

Is it fun and deranged? Does it have a good soundtrack? Is the use of color, specifically red blood, exceptional? Must be Argento! The needle contraption used on the protagonist will stick with you.

Demon (Poland)

Another Eastern European film that brings a horrific folktale to the big screen, writer/director Marcin Wrona made audiences fear the dybbuk. A slow-burning tale of a wedding gone awry with possession, this was Wrona’s final film before taking his own life in 2015.

Viy (USSR)

This 1967 adaptation of a Gogol novella was the first horror movie to be released in the USSR. Art and press was heavily monitored by the government at this time, but using the angle of it being folklore got it past censorship. While some of the effects are more or less laughable in present day, Viy is an important piece of Slavic film history.

Under the Shadow (Iran)

Babak Anvari’s feature length debut is the story of a mother and daughter trying to survive all manner of hardship during the Iran-Iraq War. It is a beautifully made and jarringly intimate piece of survival horror. It’s an artistic display and a slow burn, sure to please moviegoers.

Train to Busan (South Korea)

It’s hard to find a zombie film with an original premise, but this gem shines bright among the debris. Witty, heartfelt, and at points, genuinely nerve-wracking, Train to Busan is both excellent horror, and a wonderful foreign feature.

Ju-on: The Grudge (Japan)

Ghost children, creepy death rattles, and a high body count — Ju-on, the classic, Japanese ghost story has it all. This spook-fest depicts how pain and suffering transcends the human realm in disastrous ways.

The Loved Ones (Australia)

Not for the faint of heart, Sean Byrne’s first release explores what might happen if you turn down that weird girl’s invite to prom. This film is psychologically and physically terrifying, with a few scenes so disturbing you might just want to fast-forward through them.

Housebound (New Zealand)

It’s hard to do horror-comedy well, in a way that both the horror and comedy elements really stand out, but Housebound does exactly that. It’s both charming and gruesome; a good introductory film for people new to the genre, and with excellent replay value.

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The Frightday Staff

The Frightday Staff

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