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Hunting For Scary Movies To Watch This Halloween? Here Are 5 Top-Notch Japanese Horror Films To Consider

Halloween wouldn’t be Halloween without a good old-fashioned horror movie, but why not add a twist this year and watch something different? Here are five cult-classic horror films from Japan to watch to create the perfect scary evening.

Frolic In Brine, Goblins Be Thine: Ringu (1998), simply meaning “Ring” in English — this film directed by Hideo Nakata is based on a 1991 novel by Koji Suzuki.

A story centered around an urban legend, Ringu is all about subtlety and this is what makes the film scary.

The story revolves around a reporter Reiko Asakawa, played by Nanako Matsushima, who is looking into the mysterious death of her niece Tomoko who dies after watching a supposedly cursed videotape. 

The film takes a turn when Asakawa herself watches the tape and enlists the help of her ex-husband Ryuji Takayama, played by Hiroyuki Sanada, to investigate the bizarre video. 

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The cursed video soon envelops others, including Asakawa’s ex-husband Ryuji Takayama, played by Hiroyuki Sanada. After the characters watch the video they are dispatched by the vengeful ghost of Sadako Yamamura, played by Rie Inō, unless they show the video to someone else within seven days of viewing it.

The ring has turned into an entire franchise with several releases like Rasen and Ring 2, following in its wake. This film could be credited singularly for popularizing the Japanese horror genre internationally.

From The Depths Of Dark Water: Dark Water (2002) is another one of Nakata’s masterpieces and is based on a short story collection by Suzuki.

Something as mundane as house hunting turns into a horror story for the single-parent Yoshimi Matsubara, played by Hitomi Kuroki, and Ikuko Matsubara, played by Rio Kanno and Asami Mizukawa.

The two secure an apartment in a dilapidated apartment in the dreary rainy season. Their troubles begin with a rainy ceiling, but soon things take a turn for the dark.

A mysterious red bag keeps reappearing no matter how often the single mother tries to get rid of it and then there is the hair and black water flowing out of their apartment’s tap.

One day, Ikuko then finds herself in an upstairs apartment where all the taps have been running and an apparition of Mitsuko Kawai, played by Mirei Oguchi, makes itself known.

As things take a darker turn, the action shifts to the building’s rooftop water tank, which hides a ghastly secret.

A must-watch for fans of Japanese horror, this is also a good watch for those who like their horrors without excessive garishness.

Don’t Hold A Grudge: Ju-On: The Curse (2001) and the entire franchise, centered around this series, is sure to put a spook in the sturdiest of all people. 

Ju-On was written and directed by Takashi Shimizu and tracks the tenants of a cursed house in Nerima, Tokyo. Incidentally, also the writer’s neighborhood!  

The house marred by a family’s violent murder is cursed and so is anyone who dares to live in it.

The experiences of the six tenants of the house are dark and not to mention deadly. Takeo Saeki, played by Takashi Matsuyama, killed his wife Kayako, played by Takako Fuji, and his son Toshio Saeki, played by Ryota Koyama, in a fit of jealous rage.

The film plays well on Japanese superstitions and those who are slightly familiar with the culture would enjoy the connotations. 

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Ask Not For Whom The Bell Tolls: One Missed Call (2003) directed by Takashi Miike is the story of a young psychology student Yumi Nakamura, played by Ko Shibasaki, whose friend Yoko Okazaki, played by Anna Nagata, one day gets a strange voice mail on her mobile phone.

The message, dated two days into the future, is from her own number and contains her own death screams.

This film — based on a novel by Yasushi Akimoto —  evokes memories of Ju-On, Ringu, and other urban legend horror films, but fans of such a genre would surely enjoy it. 

The Past Is Present: Reincarnation (2005) directed by Takashi Shimizu revolves around an actress — Nagisa Sugiura, played by Hiroko Okabe, who finds herself filming in a hotel where a massacre of eleven people took place. 

The slaughter is carried out by Professor Norihasa Omori, played by Atsushi Haruta, who goes on a murder spree in order to understand reincarnation. 

To the horror of Nagisa, she soon begins to experience the murders as if they took place in her surroundings in the present day.

Sure to send a chill through anyone’s spine, the film is definitely a watch for J-horror fans.

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