In the genre of horror movies, you have to admit—no one makes them better than the Asians. Hollywood can do the remakes all they want, but they never seem to be as good as the original. Asian horror movies are more slow-paced, gripping, and more spine-chilling. And as the saying goes, less is more.
So we asked some of our readers what their favorite Asian horror movies are, and here’s what they recommend. Bookmark this for your next movie marathon!
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11. Coming Soon (Thailand, 2008)
When you watch a scary movie, it’s a relief knowing that once you exit the theater, the horror stops. But in Coming Soon, it doesn’t. A man and his friend tries to bootleg an upcoming horror film, only for his friend to go missing after he saw it. He finds the video camera his friend taped the movie with, but finds a footage of him in it seemingly frightened at something he saw. When he watches the upcoming horror movie himself, he sees his friend in the movie, and starts having encounters with the movie’s evil spirit in real life. He then sets out to find out the secret behind the haunting film.
10. The Maid (Singapore, 2005)
Starring Filipino actress Alessandra De Rossi, this thriller is about a Filipino who went to Singapore to start work as a domestic helper. She arrived on the first day of the Chinese Seventh Month or Ghost Month, which the Chinese believe to be a time when the gates to the afterlife open, permitting souls to receive food and drink. Her employers are nice to her, and she quickly got along with their son who is mentally ill. But she soon discovers that the family isn’t at all that innocent, and uncovers a ghastly secret they have been hiding—including the burnt body of their previous maid.
9. Ladda Land (Thailand, 2011)
In case you didn’t know yet, the Thais make kick-ass films (and TV commercials, let’s admit) and their horror movies are no exception. Ladda Land is about a family of four that moves from Bangkok to a nice neighborhood in Northern Thailand. They soon realize though that there’s a darkness to the neighborhood. A housemaid was found murdered, while their next-door neighboor commits suicide just after killing his own wife and son. Soon, this new family experience supernatural encounters, too, that drives a wedge between their relationships with one another.
8. The Eye (Hong Kong, 2002)
The Eye is one of the more popular classic Asian horror movies. Released in 2002, this horror film is about a classical violinist in Hong Kong who had been blind since she was two years old. She finally gets a cornea transplant at the age of 20, but her joy in being blessed with the ability to see again was short-lived as she quickly realized she could see beyond the physical world and even foretell deaths.
7. Feng Shui (Philippines, 2004)
This 2004 Filipino horror movie plays on the theme of Chinese superstitions and belief in feng shui that make up for a gripping horror movie experience. When a wife and mother, Joy, acquires an old Chinese bagua mirror, good luck and prosperity start pouring in. But these good fortunes seem to come with a blood price. The antique bagua appear to be haunted by the spirit of its first owner too, so Joy sets out to break the curse to save her friends and her family.
6. A Tale of Two Sisters (South Korea, 2003)
Upon being released from a mental institution, the main character, Su-mi, reunites with her sister and moves back to their childhood home out in the country, to live with their father who has since remarried. After moving back, Su-mi and her sister are tormented by the specter of melodrama within the family and are haunted by events of the past that happened within the walls of their home. A Tale of Two Sisters is one of the most successful Korean horror movies and is the first Korean horror movie to ever get a US screening. In 2009, Hollywood released a US remake, titled The Uninvited.
5. Ju-On: The Grudge (Japan, 2002)
You know it’s a good one when Hollywood remakes it—twice. Japan’s Ju-On: The Grudge was remade by Hollywood in 2004, with another remake apparently coming in 2019. Japan made a sequel to the original film, too, released in 2003. In Ju-on, the story revolves around a house that is haunted by the spirits of its previous owners, the Saeki family. Anyone who steps in the house is afflicted by the curse, too, and eventually faces an untimely death.
4. The Wailing (South Korea, 2016)
The Wailing follows a policeman in rural South Korea who’s investigating a slew of gruesome murders and events taking place in their small town. But what starts off as a mystery and possible outbreak scenario morphs into something much darker. Balancing elements of different genres, The Wailing also offers a bit of black comedy to ease the palpable tension throughout. The film’s run time clocks in at 2 and a half hours, but viewers will be rewarded with a chilling ending that will stick with you long after it’s finished. Plus, if this serves any merit, The Wailing holds an impressive 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
3. Ring (Japan, 1998)
The emergence of Asian horror films to viewers around the world started with this—Ring, also known as Ringu in Japan. It was accepted with critical acclaim all over the globe, with The Guardian even putting Ring under its “best horror films of all time” list. The film is about a cursed videotape discovered by a local journalist. Anyone who has seen the video mysteriously dies in seven days. If you’ve ever seen references about Sadako—the face-covered long-haired lady spirit that climbs out of a well in the woods and eventually out of TV sets—yup, that famous character is from this bone-chilling, unforgettable film.
2. Train to Busan (South Korea, 2016)
Train to Busan is a zombie apocalypse film set in South Korea. It premiered in May 2016 at the Cannes Film Festival in France to raving reviews. The film follows a divorced man and his daughter as they get on a train ride from Seoul to Busan, to take his daughter to go see her mother. But a virus outbreak occurs, turning anyone who has been infected into zombies. The virus quickly spreads in the train, leaving a small group of people fighting for their lives. Train to Busan, aside from its apocalyptic themes, is, at the core, a beautiful drama that will leave you reaching for the tissue as you watch it to its end.
1. Shutter (Thailand, 2004)
Most recommended by our readers, Shutter is a hair-raising thriller that stays with you long after the movie has ended. The story revolves around a photographer and his girlfriend, who starts feeling haunted after they accidentally hit a girl on the road, whom they leave behind. Weird figures start to appear on the lead’s photographs after the incident, as well as deaths of their friends and other supernatural encounters. They ultimately uncover the reason behind the hauntings, and it’s disturbing, to say the least. Don’t say we didn’t warn you—Shutter is the kind of horror movie that lingers.
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What is your favorite Asian horror movie? Do you have anything to recommend? Tell us in the comments!