Like vacationing, watching foreign movies is a great way to learn about other cultures from around the world. And, you never have to find your passport or leave the comfiness of your bed. In relation, horror fans can see what makes people from all over scared. Japan, for example, is fearful of vengeful spirits like the onryō.
Meanwhile, there's the concern of dangerous youths in the United Kingdom. No matter what causes it, fear is a universal concept. So keeping that in mind, let's explore all that international horror has to offer. Using IMDb as a measuring tool, here are ten of the scariest foreign horror movies.
10 Norway: Dark Woods (2003) — 6.2
A reality TV crew filming a survival show about a group of people roughing it in the woods stumbles upon a nearby campsite with a dead body. Since the crew doesn't want to spook the contestants, they keep this discovery to themselves. What follows is a series of bizarre and creepy incidents.
Dark Woods — Villmark in Norway — capitalizes on a kind of spooky atmosphere effectively established in The Blair Witch Project. The eventual paranoia crescendos into a storm of uneasiness that arrests your attention. In 2015, a sequel called Villmark 2 (or Villmark Asylum) was released.
9 France: Them (2006) — 6.4
Upon hearing a strange noise outside their isolated home, a couple goes outside to investigate. What they find is that they're not alone as they thought they were. A group of threatening interlopers is prowling the grounds, looking for a way to break in.
If the plot to this French horror sounds familiar, that's probably because you've seen The Strangers. Whether or not that 2008 movie is a remake of Them (originally Ils in France) is unclear from a legal standpoint. Regardless, Them is a quintessential entry in the home invasion sub-genre.
8 United Kingdom: Eden Lake (2008) — 6.8
A couple on a romantic getaway in the woodlands finds themselves the target of harassment. A group of local teenagers begins to toy with them. At first. Then, things turn ugly when the couple is held against their will and tortured both physically and psychologically.
Eden Lake is one of those movies that will be hard to revisit after your first viewing. It's a grim torturer whose main objective is to upset you. While the violence is indeed hard to watch, it's the deeply cynical closing statement the movie makes that doesn't sit well with viewers.
7 Italy: Opera (1987) — 7.0
In a bid to have her all to himself, a stalker kills anyone associated with an opera understudy. Before he commits his horrible crimes, he tapes a row of pins beneath her eyes so she can't close them. This way, she has to watch as he butchers anyone he sees unfit to be in her company.
Commercially speaking, Opera was Dario Argento's most successful film in his native country of Italy. As far as giallo films go, Opera is relatively coherent and straightforward. It's still dependent on style like other films in Argento's repertoire, but that's not to say there isn't substance here. It shows the dark lengths fanatics will go to for the one thing they prize the most.
6 Thailand: Shutter (2004) — 7.1
Following a tragic accident, a photographer and his girlfriend notice mysterious shadows in the boyfriend's photos. In time, they realize that they are being haunted. The reason why, though, is truly shocking.
Shutter is a seminal example of modern Thai horror. It takes popular tropes and twists them into something fresher than not. The movie never escapes its obvious inspirations, but it aspires to do something different. With that being said, the 2008 remake is unforgivably mediocre in nearly every way possible. That movie gives remakes a bad name.
5 South Korea: Bedevilled (2010) — 7.3
After suffering a breakdown at work, a city woman vacations at a southern island where she spent her childhood. There, she reunites with a friend, who is now subjected to abuse at the hands of everyone in this small community. It's during this time, though, that the victim finally snaps and takes her revenge on those who hurt her.
Bedevilled is no doubt commentary on the adverse effects of living in a patriarchal society. The film spends a good amount of time devaluing the woman in question. Once that breaking point happens, however, we then endure some of the most cathartic murders ever depicted on screen.
4 Japan: Ring (1998) — 7.3
A reporter investigates a relative's recent passing. In doing so, she uncovers an urban legend about a cursed videotape. When someone watches the video, they are marked to die in seven days. The reporter is skeptical, but once her son watches the tape, she believes. And now, it's a race against time to save her son while uncovering the origin of the curse.
It's hard to argue that Hideo Nakata's Ring wasn't responsible for the J-horror movement. The numerous copycats that followed in its wake are proof of that. The movie embodies dread in a way that can't be easily emulated, though.
3 Spain: [REC] (2007) — 7.4
A television reporter and her cameraman tag along when firefighters are called to an apartment building. There, they come across a violent old woman, whose aggressive behavior is influenced by some unknown and contagious ailment. The authorities then quarantine the building so that the reporter and everyone else inside cannot leave.
Anyone with doubts about found-footage horror should see [REC] if they haven't already. This Spanish zombie flick is cramped, chaotic, and unforgettable. A passable English-language remake called Quarantine was released in 2008. It changes some notable elements, but for those wanting an adequate localization, they at least have the option.
2 Mexico: Even the Wind is Afraid (1968) — 7.5
At an elite women's boarding school, several students are forbidden from leaving for vacation after being disobedient. They stay behind with the headmaster and a teacher. Little do they know, though, their school is haunted by a spirit seeking revenge.
The original Even the Wind is Afraid (or Hasta el viento tiene miedo in Spanish) is a classic Mexican horror movie. If you're a seasoned fan of ghost stories, the film's twists and turns are easy to navigate. You might even guess the ending ahead of time. Nevertheless, it's a suspenseful, beautifully shot hidden gem.
1 Sweden: Let the Right One In (2008) — 7.9
A 12-year old bullied kid named Oskar meets a strange girl named Eli. The two form a close bond with Oskar even developing feelings for Eli. What makes Eli strange is that she can't be in the sun, and she can't enter a room unless she is invited. When Oskar learns that Eli sustains herself by consuming blood, he has to make a difficult decision that will forever change their lives.
Let the Right One In (or Låt den rätte komma in) is hands down one of the best vampire stories you will ever read or watch. The mythos inherent to the film isn't radical by any means, but the execution is heartfelt and astounding.