A Look into Foreign Horror: Spanish Language Top 5 Films
Wikipedia describes horror films as this.
A horror film is one that seeks to elicit fear in its audience for entertainment purposes. Horror films additionally aim to evoke viewers’ nightmares, revulsions and terror of the unknown or the macabre. Initially inspired by literature from authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley, horror has existed as a film genre for more than a century. Horror, in my personal opinion, is the ultimate film genre when done right.
The United States has been severely lacking when it comes to horror in recent years, churning out films aimed at teenagers and making the scares way too predictable. In an earlier article, I visited China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand checking out some of their best horror films.
We’ll kick it off by looking at five great Spanish-language films. As with the Asian market films, I’ll give some details, synopsis and then my personal take on each film. Some spoilers may come, but I’ll do my best to keep them to a minimum.
#5. Somos lo que hay aka We Are What We Are (2010) Not Rated
Synopsis: When the patriarch of the family passes away, the teenage children must take responsibility for the family chores: the preparation of the rituals, the hunting and putting the all-important meat on the table. These newfound responsibilities are even more daunting, however, when you live in the city and happen to be a family of cannibals.
We’re kicking off with the Mexican film We Are What We Are. A rather divisive film, people either love this movie or hate it. I personally love this film, as well as the 2013 remake, and I’m not ashamed to admit that a good cannibal film is a guilty pleasure of mine. While this film has its issues, like having a pretty low budget, it is a gritty and grisly horror flick that dives into this cannibal family’s trials. If you’re in the mood for a cannibal flick, give this one a chance.
#4. El orfanato aka The Orphanage (2007) R
Synopsis: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.
So The Orphanage is less of an in-your-face horror movie and rather a drama with supernatural elements put into it. That said, it works pretty well and gives the film a rather different feeling to it than most films on my list. It’s nothing stunning, but in the world of horror films, it easily stands a shoulder above the regular flotsam that the genre tends to churn out. At that, it’s no terrible film and could be recommended if you’re looking for a relatively intelligent and well-composed supernatural horror-type film. Just don’t expect bloodbaths and constant shocks.
#3. El hoyo aka The Platform (2019) TV-MA
Synopsis: A mysterious place, an indescribable prison, a deep hole. An unknown number of levels. Two inmates live on each level. A descending platform containing food for all of them. An inhuman fight for survival, but also an opportunity for solidarity.
The Platform is a very atmospheric horror movie, the setting just working to create an unsettling feeling in the audience. You find yourself feeling for the characters and things just get strange and bizarre as the film goes on. It’s got some twists and turns but it mostly is a straightforward movie with a killer premise. One of the better horror movies I’ve seen come out in the last few years.
#2. La Llorona (2019) Not Rated
Synopsis: An ageing paranoid war criminal, protected by his faithful wife, faces death while being haunted by the ghosts of his past.
A slow-burn political drama that merges the real-life horrors of the Guatemalan genocide with one of Latin America’s most famous folktales, La Llorona (also called The Weeping Woman) is a story about the ghosts of the past bleeding into the present to right the wrongs. La Llorona makes for a gripping story about the voids that never fill and scars that never heal and also serves as a chilling metaphor for the blood-soaked history of Guatemala that’s still crying for closure.
Not a film for all and certainly not for those expecting something along the lines of the terrible Hollywood take on the Latin American fable, this Guatemalan feature is a political drama pierced with thin lines of horror & fantasy.
#1. [Rec] (2007) R
Synopsis: A young TV reporter and her cameraman cover the night shift at the local fire station. After receiving a call from an old lady trapped in her house, they reach her building to hear horrifying screams which begin a long nightmare and a uniquely dramatic TV report.
I love Rec and all of its sequels. There are four in total and while I am not going to go into the other three, the first film is one of the best ‘found footage’ style horror movies I have ever seen. This is the kind of movie that you go to the cinema and watch and then haunts you for weeks. Not that it will make you afraid of the dark or it will make you question your vision of life, but parts of it will stay with you.
This is the kind of movie that is all about the experience, the feelings you experience while inside it, and the atmosphere. This is the kind of movie you wish you hadn’t seen because then you’d be able to experience it again for the first time. Rec is a very short movie, at 78 minutes, but it delivers on the scares and horrors in that short time frame. Experience it for yourself.
Thus ends our exploration of some great Spanish language horror films. Sure, some of them are not the scariest things ever made, but the movies work and that’s what matters to me.
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