Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ten Foreign Films That Shame American Horror.

Ten Foreign Films That Shame American Horror. 

Ok I may come off as a film prude from time to time, but I think most people would agree mainstream American cinema is filled with lightweight fluff.  Horror seems to have suffered more than any, and I, like many horror fans, have turned more and more to foreign films.  I don’t claim to be an expert on foreign film, or film in general, but I know what I like, and can recognize a good movie. So here’s my top ten list (of 11 films) that really outshine the American horror film.

1.       Martyrs- Hailing from France, Martyrs is one of the most brutal films you will ever see.  The film moves along at a hectic pace, and the few times it slows down just gives you time to let what happened sink in.  The final few minutes are an exercise in depravity that is just hard to watch.  One of the scariest things about Martyrs is that it doesn’t follow the rules.  There’s no safety, no hope, no hero, and if the last scene is to true, no peace even in death.

2.       REC- This is what a zombie film should be like, OK maybe they really aren’t zombies, but possessed people, still REC has everything a good horror fan wants. A beautiful heroine in Manuela Velasco, a group of survivors fighting for their lives, and ravenous blood crazed, flesh ripping zom, er well whatever they are.  If you liked the American remake Quarantine, check this far superior original versiontied


 Rec 2- Sequel to the Spanish Horror movie of the same name, REC2 loses very little of the originals magic.  Set in the same location as the original, literally hours after the original, Rec 2 deals with a group sent in to rescue the survivors.  Or were they?  Some fans complained about the films moving closer to a possession storyline, but in actuality it just helps further separate from the American “zombie” films.  While they aren’t zombies by the traditional standard, and they even run, horror fans didn’t seem to mind and are eagerly awaiting a third installment later this year.

3.       Ju-on- This is the film that started it all.  Back before scary Japanese kids were a cliché, this introduced America to the Japanese ghost story.  Maybe it wasn’t the first, but by way of its American remake, it was the first to become widely known in the states.  It spawned numerous sequels, which weren’t bad but didn’t seem to have the same magic as the original.  They weren’t helped by the saturation of the Asian market with spooky kid movies, and American remakes and spoofs.

4.       I Saw the Devil- You can argue that I Saw the Devil isn’t horror and, honestly might have a point if you only consider horror to be pertaining to the supernatural.  That however leaves out a lot of films normally considered horror.  While it isn’t supernatural, the brutality in this film matches or exceeds that found in a lot of American “torture porn.”  The fact that it has an intelligent story, excellent acting and brilliant direction shouldn’t exclude it from the horror genre.  If anything it just shows how accepting we have come to be of stupidity in horror.  The best film of 2011 is a must see and is far better than any American horror film released in recent years.

5.       R-Point- I described R-Point to a friend as a ghost story, but it’s really not in any traditional sense.  While ghosts are involved, it’s really hard to shoe horn it into the ghost story genre.  It’s more a movie about an evil place, and the evil deeds done there.  It’s a Korean film and those accustomed to creepy kids in their Asian horror might find this a welcome break from the norm, as the film focuses on a military unit during the Viet Nam war.

6.       Audition-Takashi Miike is known in America for his mostly extreme gore and violence in films like Ichi the Killer.  Audition doesn’t slack on the violence and gore but it’s still probably the most easily digested by the American audience.  Probably the most striking thing about Audition is its sudden 180 from sweet love story to violent horror. There are hints that all is not right, some subtle, some not so much, but the last half of the movie will still hit you like a sledge hammer to the head.

7.       A Tale of Two Sisters-Another Asian film subjected to an inferior American remake.  More of a psychological thriller than supernatural horror, the film keeps its audience from guessing what exactly is going on till near the end.  It is a haunting, evil spirits or just the horrors of a deranged mind.

8.       Thirst-Park Chan-wook followed his revenge trilogy with his take on the vampire mythos.  No sparkly emo teens, or desiccated corpse, his vampire is a fairly unique creature, more reminiscent of Christopher Lee than Bela.  Charming, sexy and brutal, this is probably one of the more erotic, and artful of recent mainstream vampire films.  Fans of the revenge trilogy, might be a bit disappointed but it stands out among recent vampire films

9.       Dream Home- If there is any film that competes with Martyrs in true brutality, and maybe even surpasses it, it’s Dream Home.  Not to be confused with the American film with a similar name, this is Asian gore at it’s realistic best.  The realism of this film and the fact that it could very well happen make it all the more disturbing.  Warning expectant parents might want to skip this one, even if you have seen the French Inside, you will be shocked by this film and one scene in particular.

10.   Let the Right One In- Possibly the best film on the list, it is also probably the less gory of the list.  It’s also one of the few (alongside REC) to have a semi-decent American remake.  At heart it’s as much a coming of age love story as a horror film.  It just happens the person coming of age is a bullied young boy, who befriends the vampire next door.

Special mention goes to A Serbian Film for going where no American film would ever go.  While it has some major flaws you can’t deny the power of it.  It is almost nonstop sexual and physical brutality, with a message.  It’s biggest flaw is the power overwhelms the message for the most part.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I agree. A lot of American films don't really offer anything new in terms of telling a different story. It's either patterned after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Blairwitch. The French have a lot of good films, including Frontiers as well. I am more in Asian horror movies. There are a lot of great films outside the US if you can just find a decent subbed copy. Thanks for the great list. I am definitely following your blog.