With Halloween falling on a Tuesday this year, skip the late-night revelry and treat yourself to a small-screen scarefest at home - but look past the usual suspects. For film buffs wanting something a little different, test your nerves and your language skills with these award-winning foreign thrillers, brought to you by the language learning experts at Babbel.
Ich Seh Ich Seh (Goodnight Mommy) Austria, 2014 - German - 19 wins and 34 nominations
Nine-year old twin brothers await the return of their mother at an isolated house in the Austrian countryside. When she does come back, unrecognisably bandaged following plastic surgery, the boys are suspicious. They start to question whether she is actually their real mother and the story becomes an existential struggle for identity and trust. It’s modern and suspenseful, combining crisp filmmaking with a smartly twisting plot.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, USA, 2014 - Persian - 7 wins and 23 nominations
Though filmed in the USA, this is set in the fictional Iranian ghost-town, Bad City, and could be classified as a black and white, hipster vampire western. Much more than a horror film, this is a love story about two tortured souls in a town stalked by a lonesome vampire. While far from the scariest film on the list, it’s beautiful to watch and has an amazing soundtrack.
La Maschera del Demonio (Black Sunday) Italy, 1960 - Italian - 1 win and 1 nomination
Released in the same year as the classic Psycho, this bold and imaginative horror sees a vengeful vampire / witch, Princess Asa, return from the grave after 200 years underground. Once resurrected, she brings the body of her faithful servant back to life, to assist her in carrying out a vow made on her deathbed. Considered to be the definitive Gothic horror film, it’s a cult-classic that’s full of visual finesse and poetry.
Lamparina da Aurora (Dead Leaves) Brazil, 2017 - Portuguese - 7 wins and 2 nominations
Lamparina da Aurora is an experimental horror film with a cast of just three actors, filmed over only nine days. Its plot follows the near-suffocating daily life of a couple on a farm in Maranhão, visited by a mysterious young man every evening. Part psychological thriller, part existential drama, it deals with the subject of death by mixing film sequences with narration from the poet Nauro Machado, who is one of the great Brazilian poets and father of the filmmaker, Frederico Machado.
Babycall (The Monitor) Norway, 2011 - Norwegian - 7 wins and 7 nominations
This psychological thriller stars Noomi Rapace as a single mother living in fear of her abusive ex-husband. Though relocated, she sets up a baby monitor in her eight-year-old son’s room to put her fears to rest. However, her peace of mind is soon disturbed when she hears the sounds of someone else in apparent danger. The success of this film is how convincingly it blurs the boundaries between what's real and what's not.
Somos Lo Que Hay (We Are What We Are), Mexico 2010 - Spanish - 1 win and 5 nominations
Somos Lo Que Hay is about a family who have just lost their patriarch to death. It’s a serious situation for the remaining family members because they’re a family of cannibals, the father was their main provider and they need human meat to survive. It’s an interesting exploration of the usual bonds of family, through their secret craving for human flesh.
Grave (Raw) France, 2016 - French - 13 wins and 13 nominations
This peculiar gore-fest begins with the hazing of Justine, a veterinary school freshman and lifelong vegetarian, that involves eating raw rabbit liver. Its story then follows the subsequent cannibalistic chain of events that become more disturbing as the film continues. Not one for the faint hearted, Grave became infamous during its festival circuit, when an ambulance had to be called to a theatre where it was screening.
Nattevagten (Nightwatch) Denmark, 1994 - Danish - 10 wins and 2 nominations
Nattevagten is the story of Martin, a morgue security guard who gets mixed up with a psycho killer. The film really generates suspense and manages to keep it going through a fairly simple plot. It was remade in 1998 with Ewan McGregor and Patricia Arquette, however the original is far superior.
Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face) France, 1960 - French - honorable mention
Though not an award winner, Les Yeux Sans Visage deserves an honorable mention. This eerie thriller focuses on plastic surgeon Dr. Genessier, obsessed with reconstructing the accident-scarred visage of his daughter, Christiane. But to do this, he needs a fresh supply of young women to attempt facial transplants. It inspired a number of films since its release, including Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In, and is as gruesome as it is poetic.