The 50 Best Asian Horror Films of the New Millennium’s First Decade

October 6th, 2010 by ebossert

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40. Kuntilanak (2006, Indonesia)

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A girl inadvertently harnesses the power of a deadly supernatural spirit. The beautiful Julie Estelle holds the screen very well and basically carries the film on her back. The style of this Indonesian entry feels different from other Asian countries as it peppers in some unorthodox elements. There’s lots of high quality atmosphere, very nice lighting, an unusual spiritual apparition, siren-like curse melodies, a menacing tree, and a satisfying climax. One of the better Indonesian horror films I’ve seen.

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39. The House (2007, Thailand)

The 50 Best Asian Horror Films of the New Millenniums First Decade   39 The House 84x120 articles While investigating a series of murders, a reporter visits an abandoned house for answers behind the killers’ motives. Both the synopsis and title are generic, but this is amongst the higher quality ghost films. There are a few genre cliches (the ghost girl makes a few appearances), but they are employed with some panache and exist as part of a fairly diverse set of scares which include 10-foot tall, lanky, shadowy ghost men. The finale is intentionally projected early on, but this movie makes no qualms about making a bee line towards an inevitable conclusion at 100 miles per hour while tossing in a boatload of horror elements along the way for maximum pacing. Oh, and the lead actress is very good. This film is part of a growing portfolio of solidly entertaining horror titles from Thailand, which is starting to kick some serious butt in this genre.

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38. The Uninvited (2003, Korea)

The 50 Best Asian Horror Films of the New Millenniums First Decade   38 The Uninvited 84x120 articles A man and woman attempt to come to terms with their tragic pasts. The pacing is glacial, but this is a psychological horror film at heart, so most of the disturbance occurs within three very short (yet powerful) sequences. There are also some interesting, insightful statements made about religion. Much of the film’s ideas are executed with a slight ambiguity, which allows the viewer to apply their own interpretations. Ji-hyun Jun also gives a convincingly gloomy performance that’s atypical from her normal roles. If nothing else, this is an effectively depressing, unique film that avoids many genre cliches and deserves a lot more attention than it currently receives.

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37. Prayer Beads (2004, Japan)

The 50 Best Asian Horror Films of the New Millenniums First Decade   37 Prayer Beads 84x120 articles Japanese horror anthologies are fascinating when they maximize creativity. This is a two-volume, 9-story anthology of horror films lasting 30 minutes each. “Prayer Beads” (#1) is a derivative tale with cell phones and onryos that could probably be skipped entirely. “Vending Machine Woman” (#2) is about a couple who travel to a secluded woodland area for some relaxation, but come across a shady vending machine that provokes an insatiable desire for red meat and sex; the ending is nicely bloody. “It’s Me” (#3) is a fairly weak segment about a con scheme gone awry. “Real” (#4) is about a doctor who sees strange parasites within living things; an intriguing premise with a few cool special effects. “Mushroom Hunting” (#5) is an entertaining short about three college students who come across a witch who grows delicious mushrooms. “Eddie” (#6) is an awesome horror/comedy about a psychic child’s relationship with an army of mutated man-eating seals; the finale of which is wildly entertaining. In “Echoes” (#7), telepathic grandparents seek vengeance upon the murderer of their granddaughter; the death scene is superb. “Cat’s Paw” (#8) is an enjoyable horror/comedy about a boy who inadvertently uses an internet cartoon cat to reap vengeance upon everyone he dislikes. In “Apartment” (#9), a family must deal with an abusive father; the twist is good and requires some thought to figure out exactly what happened; this also has some links to the first eight stories, which is a nice touch. This is a very underrated, little known anthology that is also one of the best.

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36. The Eye (2002, China)

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Angelica Lee stars as a woman who experiences ghostly phenomena after receiving a retina transplant. This highly acclaimed film by the Pang brothers contributes a number of unnerving sequences using a Chinese spirit instead of the onryo ghost used in many Japanese and South Korean entries. The final 10 minutes are the most interesting, but much of the film is driven by soft camerawork, effective scoring, and slow pacing that create a very dreamy mood. A fan favorite, for obvious reasons.

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35. Phobia (aka 4Bia) (2008, Thailand)

The 50 Best Asian Horror Films of the New Millenniums First Decade   35 Phobia 84x120 articles This is an anthology of 4 short supernatural horror films (approximately 25 minutes each). “Loneliness” is a cool segment about a girl who befriends a mysterious man via text messaging. Despite using some genre formulas, the execution is very impressive (especially the camerawork, scoring, and acting). “Deadly Charm” is a solid entry into the witchcraft slasher sub-genre, with some stunning visuals and death scenes. There is some misplaced CGI near the end, but this is fun stuff. “The Middle Man” is a horror/comedy about a group of friends who take a camping trip into a desolate woodland area. The humor works well as the story tosses in references to other horror films. “Last Fright” is about an airplane flight gone bad. Nothing new here, but it’s good. Overall, this is a very impressive, entertaining anthology.

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34. Ju On: The Grudge (2003, Japan)

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This is the Japanese theatrical adaptation of the original made-for-television ghost film named “Ju On: The Curse”, and director Takashi Shimizu uses the same fragmented storytelling structure that feels like an anthology of interconnected short films. The number of classic haunt scenes are greater, more pronounced, sufficiently creepy and better written in this theatrical version. It’s a bit sluggish at the start, but an excellent mood of dread is built as the film progresses. One of the most popular staples of the industry.

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33. Memory (2008, Thailand)

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This is a high-quality, classy dramatic horror film that ranks within the upper echelon from Thailand. The acting and camerawork are top notch, the pacing is slow but steady, and the horror elements (making use of both creeps and shocks) are restrained to fuel the conflicts rather than simply existing for their own right. Although the storyline is a familiar one (about a psychiatrist who treats a little girl with a mysterious past), it maintains interest due to strong character interaction. The conclusion is well conceived and a logical extension of preceding events.

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32. Reincarnation (2005, Japan)

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Takashi Shimizu directs this surprisingly well-written horror film. There are a lot of horror elements used here that have been seen previously, but they are used in a completely different manner. Perhaps the most impressive thing is that the concept of reincarnation itself is used to bridge and interconnect all of these elements in a new and satisfying way. The pacing is slow for the first 65 minutes, but the final 25 contribute one of the most complex, original climaxes in recent memory.

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31. Loft (2005, Japan)

The 50 Best Asian Horror Films of the New Millenniums First Decade   31 Loft 2005 84x120 articles Kiyoshi Kurosawa directs this movie that touches upon the concept of memory. A mix of environments are used – old buildings, a dark green forest, foggy docks, and lighting are exceptionally utilized. The first half is definitively horror-based with an effectively creepy grainy video and some very long suspense sequences. The second half is more plot and character driven with some clever scenarios. Kurosawa’s patience and talent as a director of horror easily eclipses just about everyone else in the history of the genre, thus making this a quietly enjoyable and deeply moody film that would have failed at the hands of anyone else. A bit hokey and awkward at times, but this is a highly original and underrated gem that’s worth a watch for lovers of slow-burning atmospheric pieces.

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  1. Goreflixblog Says:

    Some good movies on this list. My LoveFilm account’s going to be heaving with Asian horror after reading this. http://Goreflix.com