Just in case you didn’t know, Asian horror puts American horror to shame, so it’s time to broaden your horizons. South Korea, in particular, has emerged as a major force in the genre by practically inventing a new sub-genre of revenge-themed psychological thrillers. Train to Busan, for example, broke records and became the country’s top-grossing films of all time (and an international hit as well).
Considering that South Korea didn’t start churning out stellar horror films until the late ’90s, their genre domination is well-deserved and nothing short of remarkable. Here are 10 of the best Korean horror movies out there.
Updated on the 15th of April, 2020 by Anastasia Maillot: With summer fast approaching, one of the primary ways in South Korea to stay cool during hot days is to stay in and watch chillingly scary horror movies.
With such a strong horror genre, it’s a shame not to share some of these incredible South Korean horror movies with the world. Here are five additional titles guaranteed to give you nightmares for the next few weeks.
Although Whispering Corridors is over two decades old, it’s one of the cornerstones of Korean horror genre. It came out during a time where free expression was brand new in the country, and not only serves as a chilling story, but also as social commentary.
Taking place in an all girls’ school which is reportedly haunted by a ghost, staff and students start to disappear into thin air following the suicide of a teacher. This is the story that started it all in Korean horror, but whether it not its mystery is solved, is for the viewer to see.
A more recent title that became extremely popular due to its modern themes, Don’t Click is the story of a strange video that circulates the Internet, labeled as the “forbidden video.” After main character Jung-Mi has her sister’s boyfriend download the file for her, strange things begin to happen in her life.
This is a classic tip of the hat to movies like The Ring or One Missed Call, addictive and terrifying all at the same time.
Who doesn’t love a nice pair of heels, especially when they’re available for free? After Sun-Jae discovers a pair of gorgeous red high heels on the subway, she takes them with herself back home, only to find out that they have a very, very dark secret.
Based on the old fairy tale from Hans Christian Andersen, it’s a dark and twisted modern story about vanity and beauty, which turns into a classic haunting.
Plastic surgery is a major topic in many Korean movies, but in Cinderella it’s treated as an aspect of horror. A successful plastic surgeon and her daughter soon begin to witness strange things when her patients commit suicide before her daughter.
Another tale on vanity and body image, for those afraid of body horror and gore, this might be a rough one but it’s terrifying all the same.
There’s nothing scarier than living in near-total isolation of the rest of the world, and the Kang family is about to discover just that. As the entire household moves to a remote mountain location for a business, they’re elated to finally get their first customer.
However, as their first visitor commits suicide, the family decides to bury him without a fuss to spare themselves from bad publicity. This, unfortunately, is just the beginning in The Quiet Family.
You might have never heard of it, but Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum has a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and I didn’t even know that was possible! This intense and creepy “found footage” horror follows the crew of a horror web series as they travel to an abandoned asylum for a live broadcast.
As you can imagine, things get nightmarish real fast as they begin to experience unexpected terrors around every corner. If you’re a fan of Paranormal Activity, you’ll love every minute of it.
I Saw The Devil has one of the most brutal scenes of movie vengeance out there, so prepare yourself emotionally before you watch it on your own. The movie is about a secret service agent whose fiancée is brutally murdered and dismembered by a serial killer, and his decision to take his revenge through the relentless pursuit and torture of the killer.
Bedevilled is a brutal and beautiful psychological horror film about a woman who’s subjected to mental, physical, and sexual abuse on a remote island. The film is much more than a horror, however.
According to one film review, “The only relief from grief and suffering is bloodshed, which is exactly what we get. ‘Bedevilled’ is more than a story of a woman scorned, it’s about women’s constant struggle to find a place in the world and what happens when it is taken away from her. This is especially true for Asian cinema, as women are typically shown as more reserved and dainty, trying not to make a ripple in the ocean that is a man’s world.”
Phone is a South Korean horror film about ghost possession that did its rounds in international film festivals and was subsequently nominated in different categories, including Best New Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress.
Although the movie title is basic enough, the plot is the complex story of an investigative journalist quite literally haunted by the constant ringing of the phone in the aftermath of an article she published. When the daughter of her friend one day answers the phone, things take a turn for the darker.
School is scary enough without high-achieving students disappearing at random and dying in grisly ways, but that’s exactly what happens in Death Bell.
As the only Korean horror film to be released in the summer of 2008, it did very well at the box office and was described by Derek Elley of Variety as having a “neat concept” with “enough shocks and gore to keep genre addicts contented.” This film also marks the acting debut of Nam Gyu-ri, a former singer with SeeYa.
There are a lot of underrated horror movies out there, and The Silenced is one of them. When a new girl transfers to a boarding school, several of her fellow students go missing, and her attempts to reveal the mystery behind the disappearances put her own life in danger.
A bonus: this movie is packed full of Korean history, as it’s set in 1938 during the Japanese occupation. The movie has been described as “visually stunning” and “a quiet, eerie film, with all kinds of horrific twists made imaginable by its Japanese colonial period.”
The film, which follows a priest who is brought back to life as a vampire, won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2009 and made the list for “best horror movie” during the 2010 Scream Award Nominations. Thirst is a dark, sexy love story that will scare the hell out of even the most seasoned watchers.
A Tale of Two Sisters isn’t the newest Korean horror film, but it’s certainly one of the best. The film follows two sisters who, after returning home from a mental institution, find themselves surrounded by a cruel stepmother, vengeful ghosts, and unexpected revelations about their family’s dark past.
After raking in nearly $50 million at the box office, scoring a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and appearing on many “best horror of 2016” lists, is it any wonder that Ridley Scott is chomping at the bit to do an English re-make of South Korean horror film, The Wailing?
For those who haven’t seen it, residents of a South Korean mountain village get hit with a deadly and mysterious disease, and it’s up to a local policeman to get to the bottom of it with the help of a powerful shaman. Given that the storyline is packed full of Korean culture, toe-curling terror, and unexpected comedic relief, it’s unclear whether a remake could hold a candle to the original.
Train to Busan has been described as one of the most underrated horror movies that only the biggest movie buffs know about, and luckily for everyone, it’s available to stream on Netflix right now. At first glance, it just seems like just another basic zombie movie: virus breaks out, people struggle to get away before they become lunchmeat.
Nothing special, right? WRONG. Unlike in other zombie flicks, the character development and the acting in the film is quality and the cinematography is top notch. There’s a reason it’s gone on to become the 8th highest grossing Korean film of all time.
Read more: screenrant.com