Forget about Hollywood horror movies. Except for a very select few, horror movies from Hollywood only go for the cheap scares. They are more likely to just surprise you with jack-in-the-box appearances of the killer or ghost and not much else. If you really want to experience the kind of scare that will wake you up at nights then look no further than to the east. Asian countries have been churning out the best horror movies in the last ten years.
Asian horror movies are a totally different animal from their Hollywood counterpart. Forget about cheap scares, Asian horror thrives on slow-burn horror and disturbing imagery that really gets under your skin.
If you want to check out the best Asian horror movies out there, dont forget to add these movies to your list of Asian horror staples.
Probably the movie that put Asian horror on the map. Begins quietly enough but five minutes in and youre beginning to bite on your nails. Ringu tells of a haunted videotape that kills any person who sees it in seven days. The blurred, distorted faces in the pictures are a subtle visual and yet so terrifying to look at – a true stamp of Asian horror. And that ending? A classic in horror regardless of country or geography.
2. The Eye
What will you do if you suddenly gain the ability to see ghosts? This is the spooky plot of The Eye, a masterful movie directed by the Pang Brothers (who would eventually direct movies in Hollywood). If you think that daylight scenes mean you can breathe a little because there won’t be any scary scenes then think again. The ‘hungry’ ghost walking inside the restaurant is one of the scariest scenes in recent memory. And who wouldn’t faint with fright when you realize that your reflection in the mirror that you’ve become familiar with is actually the face of a long-dead woman and not yours.
Admit it. Old photographs are kinda creepy. But looking at photos where you see the image of a ghostly woman appearing in every single, friggin’ picture is downright terrifying. Shutter is one of the scariest Thai movies to come out in years, and if you’re on the lookout for a WTF ending that will just make your toes curl in fright then look no further.
I have to say, Juon’s plot can be quite confusing in some parts. But for pure fear factor, this movie has got horror scenes packed to the gills. And the imagery is just downright bizzarely horrifying. This is the movie that will make you realize that hiding under the sheets are a flimsy defense against avenging ghosts. And that scene in the shower where the ghost tries to come out of the girl’s head while she’s washing her hair? It makes the shower scene in Psycho look like a Disney movie.
Director Kiyoshi Kurosawa is known for making movies that challenge your perception of many things. Kairo is one of those movies that is terrifying and really scary but at the same time a really deep and thought-provoking film about loneliness and disconnectedness that has become more prevalent in the age of the internet. The movie is very atmospheric and, even though the many subplots can be a bit confusing, it all leads to a denouement that is so unexpected. This movie is really heavy in tone and feel and the visual images are quite disturbing to say the least.
6. Old Boy
This Korean movie, which is part of Chan Wook Park’s Vengeance trilogy, is consistently cited as one of the best movies to come out of Korea in decades. It’s also notable for being a great example of a mindfuck movie. To talk about the movie’s plot would be giving away a lot of what makes Old Boy such a wonderful and scary movie. So just take our word for it and watch it.
7. Dark Water
Another one of Ringu director Hideo Nakata’s movies. Dark Water is a great showcase of Nakata’s excellent handling of atmosphere. The story of a single mom and her daughter being haunted in their new apartment by the ghost of a mysterious girl is really scary. Though at the end, it is tempered by a melancholy ending.
Another Kiyoshi Kurosawa masterpiece that, although more of a thriller, also showcases how Kurosawa can deftly manipulate a story to make it a creepfest. The movie, which is about a serial killer, is a baffling piece of work because of the nature of the killings and the sign that is literally left on the people involved in the murder. It’s a movie that will slowly drive you nuts.
A little known (at least to the rest of the world) movie from the Philippines is a great gothic tale of vengeful spirits. This movie, which was released in the 1970s shows that Asians really have a flair for making memorable, high quality horror movies. The dream sequence of the ghost standing on top of a dike is still a hair-raising scene even after all these years.