Horror movies are highly underrated. And when I say “horror” I do not mean slasher, gory bloodbath fest with guts & brains spilling out everywhere. As a true horror junkie, I believe the real art of making a good horror flick is to scare the shit out of you without necessarily having to use visual details. The very reason why films like “The Shining” and “Ju-on” are considered to be some of the world’s scariest films is they actually have haunting powers. You can’t unsee what you saw and forget what you felt!
My partner and I have been ardent horror movie fans since forever. And I don’t believe in modesty when it comes to claiming to have watched some of the world’s scariest horror movies ever, in every language. Over the years, we’ve noticed that you can’t judge a scary movie by IMDB ratings. At least if you really respect true horror and not just gore. And if you’re looking for some lesser-known horror flicks that would not let you sleep in peace, you need to know where to look!
I’ve listed some of my personal favourites which aren’t as hyped but definitely promise some unforgettable jumps, shudders, and scares. So…brace yourselves and get ready for a spook-fest!
Three Extremes (2004) – Korean, Mandarin, Japanese
Asian horror movies are hands down some of the scariest horror movies in the world. “Three Extremes” is a horror anthology of three different short films directed by different directors as a collaborative attempt of three countries (South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan). The three stories are “Dumplings”, “The Cut” and “The Box”. To be honest, it will take you some time to recover from what you watch first to move on to the next one. Extremely sickening, each story is a true reflection of impossible extents human emotions can reach to. Attempt to watch it only if you think you can handle getting quite uncomfortable.
What works: The highly disturbing and extreme elements of the film messes with your psyche.
Don’t Look Now (1973) – Italian
Beautifully shot in Venice, this Italian movie is a golden mix of horror and classic genres. A couple who loses their daughter recently meets an elderly psychic woman who brings a message from the other side. Fairly simple story, but the kind of impact it lays on you is unbelievably stirring. “Don’t Look Now” (or A Venezia… un Dicembre Rosso Shocking) is one of those horror movies where you know something is uneasy and not right, but still can’t help venturing into those alleys. Filled with eerie moments wrapped well with confusion and suspense- this is a must-watch for those who want to enjoy some old-fashioned spirits & ghost movie on a rainy afternoon!
What works: The right mix of ghost and edge-of-the-seat suspense makes it one of the scariest horror movies.
Dabbe: Zehr-i-Cin (2014) – Turkish
The whole Dabbe series is quite a horror treat but this particular movie deserves a special mention. Dabbe: Zehr-i-Cin is a Turkish film that deals with nasty Jinn possession and getting rid of them. Pretty simple concept. But the way things have been portrayed makes Dabbe definitely one of the scariest horror movies I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a LOT!). The sounds of screams, overwhelming style of camerawork, and dark visuals make it quite an unsettling watch. Although overbearing in some parts, but by the end of it, the movie stays with you…and that’s haunting!
What works: The fact that the actors don’t seem like they’re acting makes it more disturbing.
Siccin (2014) – Turkish
Another gem from Turkish horror movie collection, Siccin too has a similar set up as Dabbe and is equally disturbing, if not more. It’s a story about a young girl, her love turning into jealousy, and then revenge. There is some super unpleasant black magic stuff in Siccin that would make you cover your eyes more than once. An out-an-out audio-visual horror feast you don’t want to miss.
What works: The whole concept of a jealous woman in pain using black magic as a tool for revenge itself scares the shit out of you. Not to mention the insanely scary picturization!
Monihara (1961) – Bengali
One of the three short stories from a Bengali anthology “Teen Kanya” written by Rabindranath Tagore and directed by Satyajit Ray, Monihara is the horror story amongst the three. It’s about a young woman who is obsessed with her gold jewellery collection and the film portrays the extent of her obsession in the eeriest and unthinkable ways. The background music, the set, acting, and cinematography- it’s pure brilliance. The layers in Monihara takes you deep into a woman’s heart. But the lights and sounds would simply give you jitters.
What works: I for one could never get over the eerie version of Tagore’s “Baje Korun Shurey” which I still can’t listen to without having goosebumps. Thanks to Ray’s cinematic excellence.
Noroi: The Curse (2005) – Japanese
Probably one of the best found-footage horror flicks I’ve seen, Noroi-The Curse is a Japanese horror masterpiece. Noroi revolves around paranormal incidents happening because of an ancient demon called “Kagutaba” and a documentary filmmaker digging deeper to get into the root of the curse. Everything about Noroi seems absolutely real which makes it one of the scariest horror movies of all time.
What works: Creepy and mysterious haunting sequences and incredibly realistic storytelling.
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) – Korean
The story about a family who is affected by the hauntings of a mishap in the past- A Tale Of Two Sisters (Original title, Janghwa, Hongryeon) is horrifying because of so many reasons. The neat cinematography, solid screenplay, the fantastic timing of strategically placed jump scares without overdoing it, and the totally bizarre twists. This Korean movie has been remade in English and German but none of them were as spectacular as the original film.
What works: The way this movie takes you on a psychological trip while maintaining the horror aspect is what makes it worth a watch!
Gehrayee (1980) – Hindi
Hindi film industry in the ’80s didn’t have much horror content to boast about. Gehrayee however, came up as a scary surprise! It’s a story about possession, paranormal events, and exorcism in traditional ways. You know there will be evil spirits, you expect hauntings and ghosts, but still, it’s really hard to handle when all of that happens. The incredible actors only make things scarier and creepier for you!
What works: I particularly thought the locations and the exorcism process were just brilliantly shown adding to the horror ambience.
Pari (2018) – Hindi
Director Prosit Roy delivered this masterpiece in the year 2018 breaking a long dry spell in the world of Hindi scariest horror movies! Pari is the story of an abused girl Ruksana who was kept chained in a remote hut. The protagonist rescues her and keeps her safe only to discover nerve-wracking truths about her eventually. The storytelling, the blue colour scheme, the Jinn, and the overall treatment- everything about Pari makes it one of those new horror movies in Hindi that would be hard to surpass for a long time.
What works: The atmospheric horror along with the visual effects with a crisp story and great performances. Watch one of the scariest horror movies on Netflix for some uber shudder moments!
The Night (2020) – Iranian
I happened to stumble upon this gem and it definitely was worth my time. The Night is a story of an Iranian couple settled in the US who is stuck at a hotel and experience supernatural events throughout the night. There are devastating secrets revealed, haunting spirits, and some cleverly placed jump scares too. The acting could be better, but it’s a good watch on a Friday night with beer and pizza!
What works: The suspenseful and curious events that keep happening with the couple and their attempts to overcome those keep you hooked the whole time.
So next time you’re looking for some of the scariest horror movies of the world that promise nerve-wracking and gut-wrenching after effects, do consider this list. Some of these are actually so scary, that you might wonder why are these not “banned?” If you’re a true horror buff, you’ll thank me! And don’t forget to dim the lights before you start watching…because that’s the only way to watch them! Happy Scares & Screams!!
Got some of your own horror favourites? Why don’t you share them in the comment section?