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The 10 Best Foreign Horror Films of 2017

The 10 Best Foreign Horror Films of 2017

*Keep up with our ongoing end of the year coverage here*


As 2017 begins to wrap up, we take a look at the very best foreign horror films that the year has had to offer!

2017 was a phenomenal year of horror, but it’s sometimes hard to stay on top of all the new releases and “mandatory” classics. If you’re a fan of horror then you no doubt made a point of seeing the heavy-hitters from this year like Get Out and IT, but what about the smaller films? What about the films that had limited releases or really have to be hunted for to watch? It’s very easy to have a blind spot towards foreign horror and while this is by no means the definitive list, here’s a good start to some picks from 2017 that are absolutely worth your time.


Housewife
Directed by Can Evrenol; Turkey

Housewife

Evrenol’s Housewife is an absurd fever dream of a film that simultaneously demands and refuses to be deciphered. The film touches on a number of topics like childhood abuse and repressed trauma, but its real focus is on the elevation of Holly into this deity-like figure of a cult. Evrenol’s lucid horror film embraces dream logic and nonlinear storytelling and anchors it all on Clémentine Poidatz’ alarmingly strong performance. Then on top of all of that Evrenol throws some good old-fashioned Lovecraft mythos in for good measure, too. Housewife is a fearless film for a number of reasons and even if it’s something that you don’t understand, you absolutely deserve to let its bonkers face-wearing images assault you.


Veronica
Directed by Carlos Algara & Alejandro Martinez Beltran; Mexico

I’m a sucker for boiled down, single location narratives, horror or otherwise, and Veronica is a strong example of that sort of story. I’m also a huge fan of cat and mouse psychological thrillers and this film plays into those impulses in such a delicious way. If you’re a fan of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (and honestly, you should be), then you’ll dig the hell out of Veronica. The film tells the story of a psychologist who comes out of retirement to study a special case, Veronica. As the two live together, the sense of who is in control is constantly in flux. It’s fascinating to see how these two people lose track of who they are in each other. Veronica is full of surprises and nothing can be taken for face value here. It’s a suspenseful treat that contains powerful performances and some striking black-and-white cinematography to boot.


The Forest of Lost Souls
Directed by José Pedro Lopes; Portugal

The Forest of Lost Souls

The Forest of Lost Souls feels like a team-up between Fellini and Tarantino and that alone should be enough to get you on board with this film. The film presents a wildly original depiction of the afterlife while two lost souls, a young girl and an elderly man, wax on about the nature of life (and death) and what all of this is about. The film explores some creative ideas like how the afterlife is split up into different sections for people who die in different ways (such as suicide). The whole thing is also punctuated with incredible black-and-white photography, which really helps the film’s surreal visuals pop.

What’s particularly effective about The Forest of Lost Souls is that its first half is a thoughtful, methodical take on what it means to be alive, while the second half morphs into an angry revenge tale that doesn’t hold back. Both of these ideas hit their mark and culminate into something that’s truly special.


The Lure
Directed by Agnieszka Smoczyńska; Poland

The Lure

This is a horror musical about murderous mermaids, so just stop reading this right now and immediately see this movie, okay? This article will still be here when you get back.

Absolute insanity, right? Productions like The Lure that tow genres are the biggest sorts of disasters when they don’t work. However, when these kind of experiments do succeed, they usually turn into cult classics that will always be a part of the horror pantheon. The Lure tells the complex story of mermaids who seek acceptance while also full of dreams and aspirations of musical stardom. If you didn’t realize how well mermaids and metal music go together, The Lure will make sure you understand this fundamental combination by the end of the film. On top of all of that, the film also doubles as a bizarre adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid. The fact that Disney’s Ariel and The Lure’s Golden are based on the same character is sheer madness.

The Lure is like a haunted fairy tale that has a rawness to it that only increases its charm. It’s one of the craziest horror films of 2017, but also one of the most beautiful.


Mexico Barbaro II
Directed by Lex Ortega, Sergio Tello, Diego Cohen, Fernando Urdapilleta, Michel Garza, Carlos Melendez, Ricardo Farías, Christian Cueva, Abraham Sanchez; Mexico

Mexico Barbaro II

Even the worst anthology horror efforts still manage to give me some degree of joy. I dig the style a ton and it often leads to some truly remarkable short films when in the right context. Mexico Barbaro II is essentially the Mexican equivalent of Creepshow. It’s a film that unabashedly celebrates Mexican horror directors and the country’s country and there’s something very appealing about that. The film boasts eight short films, none of which are misfires, but what’s so cool here is that most of these films touch on Mexican history and points of culture in a very, Paris Je T’aime sort of way. You could call this Mexico, I Want To Kill You and it wouldn’t be off base.

There’s a lot on display in this film, but the “Vitriol” segment tells a stunning story about vanity, numbness, being disgusted with who you are, even if it seems like you’re beautiful to everyone else. Beauty can sometimes be a terrible curse or scar, too. As strong as it is, “Potzonalli” directed by Fernando Urdapilleta is one of the most memorable shorts I’ve seen in a long time and is reason alone to check out this anthology. Due to the high success rate here, the wide subject matter, and the creativity on display by new filmmakers, this is one of the more satisfying anthology segments that you’ll come across, especially if you go in with an open mind and humble expectations.


Cold Hell
Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky; Germany

Cold Hell

If Veronica is an ode to Repulsion and Polanski, then German horror film Cold Hell certainly feels like a love letter to Brian De Palma. Cold Hell is a stunning example of a brutal girl-power revenge story, but it impressively pairs this together with a disturbing serial killer narrative. The film’s protagonist, Ozge, is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnesses something that she shouldn’t have, but she spends the rest of the film running for her life. Ozge is a glorious badass of cinema who does such violent, brutal things, but you’re cheering her on so hard in spite of it all. Picture the kitchen fight in Kill Bill between the Bride and Vernita Green, but even more intense.

There’s a very De Palma vibe present right from the film’s voyeuristic, brutal opening, to the claustrophobic chase that’s set on the subway, to the film’s unreal ending. The film’s lead gets set on fire and she still keeps kicking ass and doesn’t give up. There are all sorts of moments in Cold Hell that even give Atomic Blonde a run for its money. There are plenty of impressive action set pieces in Cold Hell (including one of the best car crashes/chases I’ve ever seen), but the film also gets a lot of mileage from its creepy serial killer material, which feels like something from out of a Fincher film or episode of Hannibal mixed with the best of Giallo. Whether Cold Hell’s mystery grabs you or its protagonist wins you over, there’s no denying that this film will still manage to surprise you in some way. This is a horror film that attempts to do a lot, but it does it all well.


Salvation
Directed by Denise Castro; Spain

Salvation

The vampire genre has been done to death as much as the zombie genre has, but even still, on rare occasions people somehow find original ways to explore these classic areas. Salvation surely owes a lot in tone to Let The Right One In, but it does enough differently that it never feels outright derivative. The film deals with a young girl, Cris, who lives a bleak life that’s spent mostly in a hospital while she awaits a dire heart transplant. During her stay in the hospital, she encounters Victor, who tells Cris that he’s a vampire.

As this honest depiction of falling in love and learning to enjoy life is explored, Cris must make the difficult decision of turning to immortality with Cris or showing courage towards life and facing her operation head-on. Salvation is interested in how people will fight to survive in different ways and it taps into something delicate, beautiful, and terrifying all at the same time.


Danur: I Can See Ghosts
Directed by Awi Suryadi; Indonesia

Danur I Can See Ghosts

Danur’s story is remarkably simple, but it’s also why this film is so effective. Danur looks at a little girl, Risa, who has busy parents and spends more time than she should by herself. Risa is lonely and on her eighth birthday, she makes a wish for a friend. Risa gets her wish in the form of a ghost. Risa gets closer and closer to her new ghost friends and it begins to form a rift between her and her mother, who becomes increasingly concerned. Danur does a lot with a little and banks on a relatable story that features a macabre, bittersweet twist.


Badoet
Directed by Awi Suryadi; Indonesia

Badoet

Another entry from Indonesia’s Awi Suryadi, but not without good reason. Additionally, Danur and Badoet couldn’t be more different of horror films and while Suryadi’s voice is distinguishable in both movies, they have very different styles. Danur is a thoughtful story about ghosts and loneliness while Badoet is an intensely creepy story about missing children and an evil clown. Creepy clowns are nothing new at this point and this year also saw Pennywise the Dancing Clown scaring the living hell out of everyone. Believe me when I say that Indonesia knows how to do scary clowns. They should officially be given control of the sub-genre because they just run with the disturbing nature and aren’t afraid to get dark. Badoet is so messed up that it feels like even John Wayne Gacy would get scared from this film.

Indonesia might not have that many horror directors, but Suryadi’s precision proves that he’s at least a voice to keep on your radar.


We Are The Flesh
Directed by Emiliano Rocha Minter; Mexico, France

We Are The Flesh

Full disclosure, I can’t tell if I’m a fan of We Are The Flesh or if I absolutely despise. It’s a film that tries incredibly hard to feel edgy and extreme and while it technically succeeds, the end result is such an aggressive product that it’s hard to tell if it’s worth it. Think a Mexican/French version of A Serbian Film and you’ll begin to get the idea of what’s going on in this film. The horror film tells a very small-scale story, but manages to have it revolve around the apocalypse and some rather large ideas. There’s a heavy emphasis on incest and some deeply graphic visuals that may simply be too much for some. Nevertheless, it attempts to say something about the end of times and destiny.

We Are The Flesh is a disturbing, reluctant experiment, but one that I still think is worth seeing. Even if you do hate this endeavor, Minter’s style is curious and inventive and it makes for an interesting study.


These are the picks that we came up with, but what did you think of this year’s foreign selection? Are there any glaring omissions here? Sound off in the comments below!



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COMMENTS

27 Comments
  • Great choices of films on this very list.

  • Where’s Raw?
    In my opinion is one of the best films of this year.

    • What’s in the Box?

      My theory is that it will be on the main list of top horror films and the site didn’t want to repeat though if that is accurate an editor’s note would have been helpful.

  • Nahuel Benvenuto

    this sould be more like a list of 20 movies, anyway, i love foreign horror, i would love to know more about indie european and asian horror movies, they are much better than the generic brainless souless crap (mostly) comes from the USA

    • Sebastian Castillo

      amen

  • jaileybay

    We Are The Flesh is one of the worst movies ever made, and one of the worst incest porn ever made. If the other movies in this list have similar qialities, then watching any of them is a waste of time.
    OK, I give them a try anyway, whatever.

    • Nice Marmot

      Do you have some quality incest porn recommendations?

  • Cati Glidewell

    Hounds of Love is one that should be on here.

    • MrX13

      That was a really good movie!

    • J Jett

      Emma Booth is an amazing actress!

  • Big Boss Rogers

    Came here just for Badoet! Anyone know how I can watch this film? I’ve tried most stream services and it’s never available! Help lol!

  • Howard Gorman

    The other Veronica by Paco Plaza. One of the best terror films I’ve seen all year. And Hounds of Love THE best film of the year for me.

  • MrX13

    Never heard of any of these films but Badoet looks interesting as does Cold Hell

    • J Jett

      i just found COLD HELL online but there’s no english subtitles. 🙁

      • MrX13

        Boo, that sux! Did you still see it? I just saw the trailer and it looks pretty good

        • J Jett

          i’m dying to but i will wait until i can find English subs. i’ve had the horror movie CHIMERES on my computer for over a year but haven’t watched it (i’m dying to!) due to not being able to find English subs. lol. i’m temped to just watch COLD HELL and BADOET (also found online) despite not having English subs for either film.

          • MrX13

            Well it does look good. Hopefully I can find it with subtitles for both movies. Let me know what you are able to find

  • Matt Miller

    Maybe not exactly horror but Thelma was pretty great too. And La región salvaje (the untamed) was pretty crazy and has some great violent and creature scenes.

    • J Jett

      Matt i can’t wait to see THELMA. it looks really good!
      and i’m SOOOOOO envious that you’ve seen THE DARKNESS/LAS TINIEBLAS!! i’m dying to see that one!

      • Matt Miller

        Thelma is great, it drags a little in the first half but the ending is great and it’s visually astounding and thematically rich.
        I was also dying to watch The Darkness! I thought it would get lost forever but my local arthouse cinema showed it for a few days luckily. I thought it would be like a mexican It Comes at Night (which I loved) but it’s not as smart or dark. Anyway is a great movie, with good twists and some creepy moments.

  • J Jett

    Daniel, many of these sound really interesting, especially DANUR, COLD HELL (i hope i can find English subtitles for the film) and SALVATION.

  • Jérémy Kuprowski

    Well, I recently saw a Vice documentary about the Golden Age of Indonesian B-movie… Believe me it’s nothing surprising to see so many horror movies from there, they certainly like their films bloody!

    Saw everything except Badoet …Mostly because I’ve been following BD the whole year. I’ll see what it’s all about.

  • Beatnation

    We are the flesh it’s no were near the level of extremity of A Serbian Film… are you kidding me?

    And where the fuck is RAW??

  • Jeff

    Interesting list. It’s missing Raw and The Untamed. I guess Hounds of Love wasn’t eligible because it’s in English?

  • Sasha Kozak

    Thanks for this list! Was just about to google Best Foreign Horror Flicks of 2017.
    All I can recall seeing for foreign horror movies is Raw, which was well done. Will check these ones out!

  • Bill Kim

    I saw We Are The Flesh on a whim and I can’t help but feel that I lost something in translation. I watched it on sub-titles and I paid close attention and not just because of the gratuitous, pornographic levels of nudity. I’m still talking my Spanish speaking friend who’s into weird shit into watching this movie though so I can tell if I’m missing something or if I just did see a weird fucking movie.

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