This week for our stream picks, we’re venturing out from the familiar sights, sounds, and themes of English-language horror to highlight just a tiny number of the fantastic and/or disturbing offerings that the wider world has on offer. Hopefully, you’re on board with Subs Not Dubs, because pretty much the entirety of these movies need to be read, but if you’re not, you’re missing out on some great stuff that is likely to be new to you. For this first global trek, we’re not going too far out on the deep end as far as obscurity or content is concerned, so for hardcore fans of international horror, there’s likely no surprises here, but for those looking to expand their experience with the genre, we think this list will do the trick.
Thailand: Shutter – 2004
Unrated (equivalent to R rating for violence, horror imagery, and disturbing sexual content) – 1hr 37min
Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun & Parkpoom Wongpoom
Starring Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee
Typically, Japan gets almost all the credit for Asian contributions to the horror genre (with many non-Japanese movies falling under the banner of ‘J-Horror’), but this extremely eerie and unsettling film put Thailand on the genre map, and since, they have produced quite an impressive array of scary movies. Vastly superior to 2008 American remake starring the other guy from Dawson’s Creek, Shutter features a young couple reeling from their involvement in a hit-and-run accident to find themselves plagued by seemingly supernatural forces – one that is increasingly making itself known in the young man’s photography. While a fairly standard story of the past refusing to stay forgotten, this well-made feature boasts an unnerving atmosphere, creepy imagery, and uncomfortable confrontations on its way toward a turn of poetic justice.
Germany: Rammbock – 2010
Rated R – 1hr 3min
Directed by Marvin Kren
Starring Michael Fuith, Theo Trebs, Anka Graczyk
Unlike numerous other European countries, Germany does not have much in the way of horror cinema, but this zombie outbreak flick is a noteworthy exception. At a very lean 63 minutes, Rammbock wastes little time getting to the action, and when it does, it’s good stuff. Taking place entirely within the same apartment complex, the occupants are suddenly besieged by the undead of the fast-twitch variety and will need to employ grit and ingenuity if they hope to survive. In its way, it’s a uniquely German take on the subject matter.
Turkey: Baskin – 2015
Unrated (borderline NC-17 for graphic violence, disturbing imagery, language, nudity, and aberrant sexual content) – 1hr 37min
Directed by Can Evrenol
Starring Görkem Kasal, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Ergun Kuyucu
Not gonna lie – I’m somewhat surprised that a movie like this came out of a place as reputably authoritarian as Turkey. Sometimes short-handed as the “Turkish Hellraiser”, Baskin has a group of police officers – guys who wouldn’t be out of place in some hard-boiled cop drama – responding to a call at a remote and abandoned building, wherein lies truly terrible things. The story moves swiftly, the acting is good, the horror elements are very solid, and the compelling incorporation of Turkish folklore make this a must-see for the non-squeamish.
Japan: Noroi: The Curse – 2005
Unrated (borderline R rating for violence and content) – 1hr 55min
Directed by Kôji Shiraishi
Starring Jin Muraki, Rio Kanno, Tomono Kuga
Noroi: The Curse might be the very best horror film ever made in the mockumentary style. Masafumi Kobayashi is an author and documentary filmmaker who focuses on the supernatural; while his latest project appears at first to be quite typical for him, it will lead him down a terrifying path where seemingly disassociated events start coming together in a very malevolent fashion. With a complex and ambitious narrative, Noroi nails everything it sets out to accomplish all while making great use of the found footage format. It’s an absolute essential for fans of that style.
South Korea: Train to Busan – 2016
Unrated (equivalent to R rating for a bunch of zombie violence) – 1hr 58min
Directed by Sang-ho Yeon
Starring Yoo Gong, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Su-an Kim
Didn’t intend to have two zombie movies on this list, but what’s popular is popular – the undead are pretty difficult to step around these days, and Train to Busan is likely the greatest film of the last decade to feature the fashionable people-eaters. This is everything the lesser World War Z aspired to be. Fast pace, lots of action and tension, high dramatic stakes, good characters, and the zombies themselves are formidable and memorable. While certainly not obscure, the movie hasn’t gained the attention it deserves from English-speaking audiences. If you haven’t seen it, this needs to go onto your Netflix list now, and if you don’t have that, Hoopla provides free rentals for library patrons. Seriously, Train to Busan is the real deal.