Some say love is the universal language of humanity, but fear can work just as well. We’ve compiled a list of foreign language movies to both expose viewers to foreign languages and scare their pants off. While it may be difficult to find foreign language horror films in theaters, thanks to streaming services like Netflix and online rentals on Amazon, watching previously hard-to-find films are easier than ever. While it’s fun to watch classics like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer come October, foreign-language horror flicks offer different perspectives and tropes that offer surprise scares and new imagery. From Japan to Mexico, these films offer a worldwide tour of the scope of terror.
1. Train to Busan (Korean)
This horror zombie flick takes the medium and amps it up to 100. Imagine being stuck on a train, and slowly each and every person becomes infected as a zombie. Chase scenes, betrayal, and catastrophic situations ensue, and you better bet that a cheering fest will break out when the film says the title.
2. Audition (Japanese)
When a widower decides to date again, he decides to use create a fake production company to use as a dating service. He becomes enamored with a beautiful young girl, and thinks he has struck the jackpot. However, he isn’t the only one being deceptive. Part morality tale about power structures between men and women, part shock-horror gross out, Audition is much more than a horror flick.
3. Raw (French)
When a vegetarian has her first taste of meat for a hazing ritual at a veterinary school, she begins to have a strange itchy reaction that turns into a definitive and very real craving for the taste of flesh. She doesn’t want only animal flesh, she wants to eat human flesh. Met with controversy over its extremely graphic content, this slow-moving and beautifully shot movie both delights and disgusts.
4. Let the Right One In (Swedish)
A bullied 12 year old boy makes friends with a young girl in a small town in Blackeberg who turns out to be a vampire in this bleak, romantic tale. Instead of jump-scares and loud music, the movie focuses on the darker side of humanity to have a deeper spooky effect.
5. Funny Games (German)
Funny Games is a literal home-invasion nightmare about two sadistic men who decide to tease and torture their victims. This movie is difficult to watch and difficult to look away from, and is a prime example of a psychological thriller.
6. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Persian)
Part comedy, part horror, this movie is a fresh take on the genre and turns it on its head. An empowering tale of a lonely vampire who uses her power to fight men trying to take advantage of her in a patriarchal culture.
7. Pan's Labyrinth (Spanish)
Suitable for children, yet still totally creepy, this fantastical movie shows what happens when a child enters a labyrinth into the underworld. Dubbed an Alice in Wonderland for adults, the movie uses animatronics, CGI, and impressive makeup to present a spooky, spellbinding fable.
8. Dumplings (Chinese)
The infamous Aunt Mei, a former gynecologist, makes dumplings that are known to have miraculous youth regenerating properties. If diners were to know what’s inside of the dumplings, though, they may not be so keen on eating it. A social commentary on the dark depths that people will do on the quest for eternal youth.
9. Dogtooth (Greek)
A manipulative father wants to protect his daughters, but ends up going too far. The compound that the girls live in appears idyllic at first, but upon closer inspection it appears more and more like a prison. This movie shows that no matter how good intentions are, you can still end up hurting people in the end.
10. Black Sunday (Italian)
This one is for fans of vintage horror movies. Made in 1960, the movie is shot in beautiful black and white, and follows a witch that was being burnt at the stake who comes back to seek her revenge.