What are some foreign horror movies worth watching?

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Answered by: Jessica, An Expert in the Sub-Genres of Horror Category
True horror is every day. In the news, on TV. Outside your window, if you watch for long enough. Next door to you, or down the block. Danger is everywhere, if you know what to look for. No one is without their secrets.

Six weeks ago the police broke down my neighbor's door, right across the street. He had taken his own life in the garage while his family was in Newport Beach. By the time they found him, he was unrecognizable. The police sent the body away and found a suicide note. Then a SWAT van showed up. After an hour, they found a hidden compartment under the family den that led to a sophisticated torture room. No bodies, but plenty of evidence. Hair and fibers from a dozen sources. Implements. Diagrams.

I still have his lawn mower in my garage. We were never close, but I catch myself thinking about it sometimes. "He let me borrow that. The same guy that tortured those women let me keep his lawn mower for months. I made them bread. He fed my dog."

Suburban horror plays a different game than any other genre. It promises nothing. Daylight isn't safe and the neighbors won't hear you. It's why Funny Games was so troubling. One would hope that if one's life were in danger, one's trusted neighbors would come to the rescue.

Complacency kills, after all.

That said, I can think of no example of suburban foreign horror movie more fitting than Pascal Laugier's _Martyrs_ .

A French film best viewed in her mother tongue with subtitles, Martyrs begins as a tale of revenge and mental illness. The survivor of childhood torture returns a decade later to kill her former captors and quiet her own demons; in the aftermath of the slaying she reaches desperately for her only friend -- and together they spiral into madness. Beneath that is a more sinister message, and the blood flows from each small wound the film delivers. It's more a symphony than a movie, but don't be surprised when you realize you have no idea who is conducting.

Due to be remade for US audiences, the interest in the film says one thing: Americans want their horror shot with a bit of grit. Perhaps it's time for a shift -- recently, Swedish films like Let the Right One In and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have merited reboots, and Hollywood has been looking for a new angle since the end of the [REC] series, which came from Spain. Funny Games was German.

Are foreign horror movies becoming too self-aware? They're easy to parody now, and American remakes never seem to get the ending quite right. The trouble is in knowing when to draw the line between entertainment and art -- when does it cease to become fun, only to take itself too seriously? Film is supposed to be about interpretation, not sweeping, preachy messages. The argument could go either way. Until then, foreign horror seems to be on the right track to seal itself in history, rather than fade into dreaded obscurity.

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