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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Five foreign horror films for your next fright night


    DNA Films

    In light of the coming Halloween weekend, America’s youth will revert to the practice of scaring themselves by watching horror films, a practice that has been dulled by the passing of time. The shrieks and squalls that once reverberated through night skies are now condemned to a lesser, often laughable sort of cinema. Where once horror films like “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” or “Halloween” were frightening, now films like “Paranormal Activity 4” or “Saw VI” plague screens with none of the chill-inducing horror of old.

    To fix this, we must take a step into the unknown, where we can reclaim the former feelings of fright we once shared. Without further introduction, here are five foreign horror movies that break free of the Americanism and normality polluting the horror genre.

    “28 Days Later” — England 

    Director Danny Boyle — now famous for “127 Hours” and “Slumdog Millionaire” — kickstarted the modern zombie obsession with his portrait of a devastated U.K. in “28 Days Later.” Amongst the wreckage, a man wakes to find himself in a hospital, the world around him destroyed by the fires of human brutality. As the plot takes form, the audience begins to understand that a zombie apocalypse has spread through the veins of Britain’s cites. The film was one of the first to make the change from celluloid film to digital. In the early days of digital filming, quality was not of paramount importance. This gives Boyle’s vision of a ravaged nation a grimy restlessness that feeds into the fears of change and differences. American horror films at the time failed at this process. Instead of sticking to classical visuals with reverence to form, this film subverts expectations and is consequently terrifying.

    “Let The Right One In” — Sweden

    “Let the Right One In” tells the story of a boy and his relationship with a young vampire. Radically different from American vampire movies, the film focuses on human connection and the ways people can be bound no matter the circumstances. Often violent and always atmospheric, this Swedish film works because of its suspense. Cinematic suspense is created through two ways: Either the audience knows more than the characters know, or the audience knows only what the characters know. Dread is built throughout the film by switching back and forth between these two factors. We feel as though we can help or as if we have no control. Ultimately, we just feel, which is the most important part of any film.

    “Wolf Creek” — Australia

    The B-movie genre is inherently harder to accept as horrific. In spite of its low production value, Australia’s “Wolf Creek” is brilliant. A serial killer film based on true Australian crimes, the story follows young college kids going on vacation and being tormented by a monstrous being. It’s easy to see why “Wolf Creek” is something that could fall by the wayside when compared to the hundreds of other features with the same premise. The film is successful because of the realism at the core of the story. Rather than following genre conventions, characters are built up and then killed immediately, people respond to situations like normal people and locations are shot without dressing. Expecting a typical B-movie, one will quickly realize this is no such film.

    “Ringu” — Japan

    Ringu, more commonly known for its fairly decent American adaptation, was released in 1998. The plot is exactly the same as the 2002 American adaptation: a mysterious videotape gives viewers seven days to live after watching it. The heroine must lift the curse within the allotted time before she meets her demise. The differences in pace between the original Japanese film and the American version echo the ways Japanese and American culture differ. The American film moves faster than the slow-paced Japanese version. Though the American film looks better and plays at a more accessible pace, the Japanese version uses its slow pace to develop characters and build suspense.

    “Martyrs” — France

    Schlocky American pictures tend to give credence to violence. It is often the reason some will watch films like “Hostel” or “Saw” — simply for the sake of seeing special effects and visceral imagery. “Martyrs,” an extremely violent French film, differs from this in the way its subject matter is of higher importance. The plot focuses on a group of people who torture young women. Through observation, they find the near-death experiences these individuals suffer give them a glimpse of the afterlife. This concept is fully fleshed out throughout the film and provokes deep philosophical thought after viewing. Rather than relying on gore to keep a crowd, “Martyrs” creates horror through its concepts and ideas.


    Follow Liam Lowth on Twitter.

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