Scary Japanese horror movies are some of the best films ever made in the genre. They are the best at racking your nerves and are sure to give you nightmares. Even Hollywood remakes can’t replicate the terror they instill. If you’re looking for a good thrill, you can never go wrong with Japanese horror.
The Ring and Ju-On franchises are already Japanese horror staples, so we’ll skip them here. But if you haven’t watched them, you’re missing out on a lot so start with them now! Otherwise, if you’re looking for the ultimate fright of your life, we’ve listed down the best Japanese horror movies to watch this Halloween season.
Dark Water (2002)
A divorcee and her young daughter seek a new life in a dilapidated apartment, where they unknowingly cross paths with the resentful ghost of a little girl, foreshadowed by mysterious water leaks.
If Ring (1998) didn’t give you trauma enough, Dark Water might. Both horror movies were based on books by Koji Suzuki and were directed by internationally acclaimed Hideo Nakata. Subsequently, both films were also adapted into American films.
One Missed Call (2003)
What would you do if you received a voicemail of your own death? In her case, Yumi Nakamura goes to great lengths to unlock the mystery behind the cursed voicemails that had killed her friends and stop them from taking more lives, including her own.
One Missed Call is a scary Japanese horror movie with a lot of references to the classics, Ring, Ju-On, and Dark Water. For instance, you might catch sight of an old apartment building with a sinister water tank on top—sounds familiar?
Sadako vs. Kayako (2016)
If you already watched Ring and Ju-On, you’d know that Sadako and Kayako are their two star ghosts, respectively. Well, thanks to two university students, we get to see the two pitted against each other in the girls’ attempt to break free from the dreaded videotape’s curse. This is absolutely one of the best Japanese horror movies to watch this season—because what could be worse than seeing Sadako and Kayako in your nightmares?
Kairo / Pulse (2001)
Kairo is one of the scariest Japanese horror movies that can still lay terror two decades after its release. Set in the nostalgic days of bulky computers and the burgeoning world wide web, the film follows the intertwined lives of two men haunted by sinister spirits that have penetrated the internet. It’s an eerie reminder that maybe, just maybe, hackers aren’t the only thing you should be worried about when using your computer.
Noroi: The Curse (2005)
This scary Japanese movie reveals found footage of a hypothetical documentary entitled “The Curse,” which offers clues to the disappearance of its producer, a paranormal researcher. The investigation, which led to the producer’s demise, centered on a curse cast by a demon named Kagutaba upon the people of a certain village.
Kuchisake-Onna / Carved (2007)
Aside from its wonderful sights and attractions, Japan is also a treasure trove of folktales and urban legends. And Kuchisake-Onna is one of the most infamous. In this film of the same name, the slit-mouthed woman goes around a small town, huge scissors in hand, and asks little children her foreboding question, “Am I pretty?” before taking them away. A school teacher goes head to head with her in an attempt to save the abducted kids.
Uzumaki / Spiral (2000)
Based on a manga (equally disturbing to read), Uzumaki tells of the curious case of a townspeople’s obsession with spiral shapes and patterns. They turn into slimy snails, wring their bodies, and jump into their deaths in the most bizarre of ways. This scary Japanese horror movie is sure to give you nightmares with its unique, bizarre theme that will make your skin crawl.
Shirai-San / Stare (2020)
Shirai-san is the name of the new ghoul that will haunt your dreams, and she’ll take your eyeballs if you break your stare. That’s what exactly happened with the loved ones of the movie’s hero and heroine, who then proceed to investigate and attempt to end Shirai-san’s curse. Are you ready for the ultimate staring game of your life?
Despite being home to the scariest Japanese horror movies and spookiest urban legends, Japan is, above all else, a traveler’s paradise. Keep your wanderlust burning by bookmarking the top sights and tours in Japan!
When you do travel, be sure to keep our safety tips in mind. (For ghost-proofing tips, please consult a professional.)
Words by Rei Leano
Featured image via IMDb