5 iconic Foreign Horror Films to Watch this month on Netflix
If there’s one desire that unifies almost all humans it’s the subtly masochistic urge to horrify ourselves. Horror, as Clive Barker once wrote, “shows us that the control we believe we have is purely illusory, and that every moment we teeter on chaos and oblivion.” It’s human nature to revel in this detachment from reality. Brazilian folklore spoke of satanic heads that bounced around at night and laughed menacingly while inflicting deadly illnesses on people. “Aka Manto” is a Japanese urban legend that quite literally scares the crap out of people; it takes the form of a mysterious voice that interrupts others in public bathrooms, kindly asks if they’d like blue or red paper, and then strangles or lacerates them based on their response. And in America, we watch our current presidential debates. It’s all the same. We indulge in fear worldwide.
Ease into your horror binge with this South Korean monster film. It’s a balance of computer-generated action and tense storytelling, and will get your blood pumping with a mild horror buzz. Just as Godzilla is a metaphor for America’s use of nuclear weapons on Japan, The Host borrows the onset of its plot from an actual event in 2000, when U.S. military personnel dumped a load of formaldehyde down a drain in Seoul like a keg of stale beer. In the movie, the this creates a seemingly unstoppable amphibious monster with a large mouth like a Ninja blender that, thanks to a pretty shady government, faces little resistance.
Nothing scares a college senior more than the job market. Get them to sit down and watch this Spanish movie, however, and the only thing that’ll scare them more is not finding a job after college and being forced to nanny. In the Juanra Fernandez-directed film Para Elisa, Ana is babysitting a rich piano virtuoso that ends up being an unhinged sociopath. Regardless of how loathsome your job is, the physical and mental torture this movie’s protagonist endures during her time as a nanny will give you newfound appreciation for uptight bosses and sleazy coworkers.
Have you ever been upset to the point of eating a live octopus? Well, unlike Oh Dae-su, you probably haven’t been kidnapped, held captive in a mysterious cell for 15 years, and inexplicably released into a brutal manhunt. Like the other installments of The Vengeance Trilogy by Park Chan-wook, Oldboy is a wonderfully unsettling revenge film on steroids. No monsters or paranormal forces needed to make this film eerie, just the potential brutality of a man who’s prone to insanity and in possession of a hammer. Originally developed from a Japanese manga series, the film adaptation of Oldboy received praise from Quentin Tarantino while he was head judge for the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, and was eventually remade by Spike Lee in 2013. This film is seriously messed up, but a great source of inspiration for sadistic revenge ploys.
While we’re on the topic of kidnapping, revenge, and brutality, we have to mention Scherzo Diabolico. This October addition to Netflix is like a rollercoaster ride through fog, with rails laid out by accomplished Spanish filmmaker Adrián García Bogliano. On the outside, Aram is a submissive, everyday accountant with what seems like a hopelessly depressing life. Yet as the audience soon finds out, he’s not without passion; among his foremost hobbies are tying up prostitutes and stalking teenage girls. It’s only until he actually steps into his own sick fantasy world that he realizes the bloody consequences of kidnapping an equally crazed victim.
Here Comes the Devil
This flick goes from zero to 100 like a Corvette in terms of sex, violence, and “what the hell did I just watch” moments. The Mexican film, also directed by Bogliano, is a unique addition to the world’s countless collection of films about demonic possession. If you don’t have kids, Here Comes the Devil will definitely inspire abstinence. If you have kids, you’ll keep a closer eye on them next time you’re vacationing around demonic caves in Tijuana. As one does.
Images via Stream On Demand, danieljarque.com, Time Out, Film Monthly, and Hollywood Reporter. Lead graphic by Ashley Britton.
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