Top 10 Best Japanese Horror Movies You Should Watch


japanese horror movies

Hey guys!. In this post, I’ll be discussing a list of Top 10 Best Japanese Horror Movies You Should Watch. The haunting and uncanny allure of Japanese horror movies. Modern and not so modern supernatural stories of curses, vengeful onryo, technophobia and hard to accept realities. We will be recommending 10 great Japanese horror films, mixed in with some of your own selections. Now without further ado and with no spoilers, here is our unranked list of movies you should definitely watch! So let’s get started.

1. Ring.

Our first two selections are pretty much necessary choices. There's no way we could make a list of Japanese horror films without them. First off, we have the one that started the J-horror boom, Ring. Some teenagers have been dying in a mysterious manner; eyes wide and mouth agape as if horrified to death. What they all have in common is their viewing of an eerie VHS tape with disquieting imagery. A reporter follows up on the deaths and puts her life on the line as she is left with only seven days to uncover the tape's origins. When I first watched this movie, I was surprised by its slow pace, the unassuming color grading, and the lack of stylized action that I was used to when watching American horror movies back in the day. The slow build, the performances and the iconic scares give us a classic 90s j-horror whose formula is still continuously attempted of being reproduced. 

2. Ju-On: The Grudge.

As with our first pick, our second was also very instrumental in the j-horror boom serving as Ring's rival franchise in the 2000s, sparking many sequels and remakes, some of which feature their respective supernatural big-bads facing off against each-other. Ju-On. The cruelty of the violent murder of a wife and child at the hands of the husband has imprinted itself to the house where the act occurred. The film is divided into different vignettes where we follow the people that come into contact with the cursed house, as well as with those who've succumbed to its persuasion. We never get a full explanation or exposition dump, other than the details that bring the vignettes together. Some of the scares might seem a bit dated by now, but most are still effective. Regardless of the film's TV quality composition it's a great example of the indiscriminate and gratuitousness of the Japanese viral curse. 

3. Kwaidan.

For the following film in our list, we'll be going further in the past. Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan. This three-hour movie from the mid 1960's is an anthology of four separate ghost stories, mostly set in feudal Japan. The first is about a samurai that divorces his wife in order to marry into a richer family. The second is about a man whose life is spared by an ice spirit that takes the shape of a woman. The third is about a talented blind biwa musician that is visited by ghosts that want him to perform for them. The final story is about a samurai that drinks from a cup that contains another man's soul. Each folk tale's slow pace is livened by the performances, the art direction, and the surreal atmosphere. Whether split up in parts or all in one shot, this is a must watch for Japanese cinema enthusiasts. If Kwaidan is the type of movie you like, I suggest watching the supernatural folktale Kuroneko as well. It's featured in our Samurai Film Recommendation List. 

4. House. 

Staying within the realm of ghost stories, our following pick is very much a straightforward one but is told in an over the top, frenetic and sometimes comedic manner: House. Gorgeous was supposed to go on vacation with her father but decides not to when she realises that her father's new girlfriend would be there as well. Instead, she and her friends decide to go visit her aunt that lives in a remote house along with a suspicious cat. Once there, bizarre events start happening and some of the girls disappear and it becomes obvious that the house seems to have a life of its own. As viewers, we also take part in the strangeness of the situation as we observe the absurdist visuals, odd cuts and eclectic editing and take in the outlandish moments of violence. This film is a distinct brand of supernatural insanity a real trip and a half. 

5. Audition.

Up next is a film that starts off as a possible rom-com scenario and devolves into a hellish serving of the disturbing. Audition. Aoyama is a widower, and his son keeps pestering him about remarrying. Since he's not too comfortable approaching women, Aoyama and a film producer friend hold auditions for a fake project. The whole process' purpose is to filter through women so that Aoyama might find the one...and he does...and he falls for her...but the ensuing relationship with Asami is far from perfect. Her mysterious past is both dark and dangerous. The way the movie is shot, the cuts and changes of perspective serve to place us on unstable footing, alternating between Aoyama and Asami's viewpoints, leading us to question what is real and what can be trusted. This film is not for the faint of heart. It's a grotesque love story. 

6. Noroi: The Curse.

The following film on our list is Noroi. A filmmaker is investigating certain supernatural events. Little by little, we begin to notice a few recurring patterns and see how these weird occurrences are connected. As the filmmaker goes deeper, so does our understanding of the demonic entity that's been driving the story. Now, I know that at the mere mention of "found footage" some people immediately stop listening and disregard the movie but hear me out. Noroi's usage of the doc format helps create a real and believable world. This low-fi horror thrives because of its simplicity and rough around the edges aesthetic. It is because of the use of this medium that we get some pretty unique scares that we wouldn't be able to emulate in a nice, clean and flattering HD image. The performances and the set design all seem authentic and almost plausible. The underlying mythology doesn't overwhelm us with details, and it all leads to a worthwhile chilling conclusion. 

7. Confessions. 

The next movie is unfortunately hard to find online but is worth the search. It also gives the Korean Revenge film genre a run for its money. Confessions. A middle-school teacher is quitting her job after having lived through a tragedy. As she does so, she attempts to get back at the students who are responsible. I'm not saying any more than that because one of the main strengths of the movie is how we are slowly revealed secrets and character motivations, until we see the big picture at the end. The opening scene alone could make for a good short film. The subject matter is dark and disturbing which is sometimes aided by the fact that the actors actually look like middle-schoolers for the most part. The film's bleak color grading complements the stylised heightened reality. It's both infuriating and satisfying. 

8. Cure.

For our following film suggestion, we were debating which Kiyoshi Kurosawa movie to choose...Pulse has that fear of technology element as well as some uncanny creative scares...Creepy has an interesting concept but rehashes some ideas that were better executed in his earlier movie, which is the one we're going with: Cure. A detective is investigating a string of murders. The only thing that ties them together is the fact that the victims have an X carved into their throats. The people responsible for the killings are all unrelated and have no real memory of what they've done or why they did it. Cure gives us an interesting mystery with a complicated protagonist that is attempting to stop the frustrating amnesiac antagonist that can turn anyone into a murderer. 

9. Dark Water.

Our following pick is basically a family drama that happens to contain supernatural elements. Dark Water. A newly single mother is doing everything in her power to not lose custody of her daughter while trying to balance the different aspects of her life. At the same time, her new apartment keeps getting water damage and she keeps seeing an apparition... which is starting to affect her chances at keeping her daughter. This film's strength lies in the coexistence of the supernatural with the mundane. The building tension comes from how one world can influence the other. 

10. Perfect Blue. 

We will be ending today's list with Satoshi Kon's Perfect Blue. Mima is a pop singer that is transitioning to being an actress. Her old persona is abandoned in favor of a more mature one that some people have a hard time accepting. On top of having a stalker, Mima is having a hard time telling the difference between what's real and what isn't... and if that's not enough, certain people with links to her are being murdered. If you ever though anime is just for children or not to be taken seriously, this film will convince you otherwise. Satoshi Kon is adept at making us feel unsettled as the mystery of the story progresses. This is a movie that will stay with you.

That is it from today’s post on Top 10 Best Japanese Horror Movies You Should Watch. If you do not agree with the points in the post and have some of your own opinions, share them with us in the comments section down below. 

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Chandan is the writer of “Top 10 Best Japanese Horror Movies You Should Watch”. Also, Connect with me on Facebook.


Hey there! I'm Chandan and I'm from India. I'm a writer and youtuber. You can contact me at: pinterest

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