Horror has always been a tricky genre to play with – more like a hit or miss – for the directors. You either make a great film that attains cult status or you make something so bad that it makes people burst out laughing instead of screaming in fear. After all, there’s a reason why Stephen King’s ‘It’ and ‘The Exorcist’; and ‘1920’and ‘Phoonk’ exist in the same universe. But, no matter how much we shriek and tremble after watching Hollywood classics, Japan is the badass daddy of all when it comes to playing with horror and supernatural thrillers.
J-Horror has been making people pee their pants in fear since 1960s when classics like ‘Onibaba’ and ‘Kwaidan’ were released and is worshipped globally by every avid fan of supernatural thrillers. They bow down in front of the awesome imagination and rich story-telling of Japanese directors. Well, for a land that has given us Akiro Kurosawa and Takashi Miike; you can’t expect anything but the best.
So, without further ado, we present to you the ultimate J-horror list that we bet you wouldn’t be able to watch alone. So, go ahead and dare your friends to finish the entire list.
1. Ringu – 1998
© Basara Pictures
Hideo Nakata does a fantastic job in scaring the life out of people with his 1998 psychological horror ‘Ringu’. The film revolves around a reporter who sets out to investigate the mystery behind a certain videotape that is cursed – whoever watches the tape dies within 7 days.
The 2002 hit film ‘The Ring’ starring Naomi Watts was an American remake of this classic.
2. Ju-On: The Grudge – 2002
© Pioneer LDC
The brutal murder of a woman and her child casts an evil curse on a house and anyone who sets foot inside gets killed by the vengeful spirits. Directed by Takashi Shimizu, this movie is the third installment in the ‘Ju-on’ series.
3. Noroi: The Curse – 2005
Created in a documentary and ‘found footage’ format, this movie revolves around a paranormal expert who disappeared while filming the most disturbing documentary of his career on an ancient demon. This movie f**ks with your mind as you try to figure out who the real demon is.
4. Audition – 1999
© Basara Pictures
Takashi Miike waves his magic wand around ‘Audition’ and turns it into a classic film that you just can’t afford to miss. A widower decided to start dating again and stages an audition to meet potential partners. He eventually starts dating a woman only to realize that she might be a psychopath with a dark and brutal past.
5. Onibaba – 1964
© Kindai Eiga Kyokai
If you haven’t seen ‘Onibaba’, then you are really missing out on the best movie ever made in the world. Directed by Kaneto Shindo, this is a historical drama horror in the backdrop of a civil war, where two women kill soldiers and steal their possessions. One of the women comes across a demon mask and dons it to frighten the other woman.
6. Marebito – 2004
© Adness K.K.
‘Marebito’ is another classic which many people wouldn’t even dare to watch in the first place. The mere synopsis sends chills down our spine, so one can only imagine how gruesome and intense the movie is going to be. A cameraman, obsessed with fear brings a woman home, only to realize that she survives on blood. How he looks after her, while dodging certain bizarre characters, weaves the rest of the plot.
7. Over Your Dead Body – 2014
© Celluloid Dreams
‘Over your dead body’ also known as ‘Kuime’ is a 2014 J-horror movie that takes on through the life of characters both on and off stage. As the line between reality and fantasy gets blurred, the characters find themselves trapped in a deadly love game that soon turns into an evil grudge.
8. Kwaidan – 1964
© Toho Company
Another classic film directed by Masaki Kobayashi, ‘Kwaidan’ is a compilation of four Japanese folk tales, each with their own tinge of supernatural elements that will surely leave you trembling in fear. We recommend this as a must-watch movie.
9. Ichi The Killer – 2001
© Omega Project
When Takashi Miike helms a film, there is no room for any doubts about the movie being an average one and ‘Ichi The Killer’ furthers the same. Also known as ‘Koroshiya Ichi’, this movie is a Japanese crime-horror that revolves around a sadomasochistic hoodlum who comes across a psychotic killer after his boss goes missing.
10. Dark Water – 2002
© Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co.
The movie talks about a mother who is going through an ugly divorce and fighting for her young daughter’s custody. However, after the mother and daughter move into a new apartment, they realize they aren’t the only residents. They start seeing disturbing visions and start getting haunted by the ghost of a young girl who tries everything to draw them towards the supernatural.
Most of you must be getting all jazzed up for ‘trick or treat’ aka Halloween. But, for the rest it’s yet another legit reason to binge-watch horror movies, along with the uninvited guests who will join us between 3 and 4 a.m. (ghosts should get an opportunity to watch their on-screen avatars too).