Casual moviegoers are often put off by the concept of having to read a horror movie instead of watching a story unfold in their first language. Sadly, this means these audiences are limiting their options when it comes to seeing a diverse array of movies featuring compelling perspectives from other parts of the world.
The Academy Awards caused horror fans to rejoice recently, however, as Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro took home the Best Director and Best Picture accolade for his monster movie-inspired The Shape of Water, having previously given the genre world some of its most incredible stories of the last two decades.
One of the films on Netflix that has most recently dominated social media chatter is the Spanish-language Veronica, which chronicles the true-life experience of a teenage girl who taps into a supernatural threat that plagues her family. Statistics suggest that the film is "so scary" that a large number of Netflix users turn the film off before the story comes to completion.
Between the buzz surrounding Veronica and del Toro finally being recognized as one of cinema's contemporary masters of horror, now is as good a time as any to dive into some of these riveting Spanish-language horror films, if you dare!
Dracula is one of the most well-known horror movie characters of all time, in large part thanks to the 1931 film Dracula, directed by Tod Browning.
While Browning's film was shot during the day, the same sets were repurposed at night for George Melford's film in which Carlos Villarías starred as the titular villain. The narratives of both films are relatively similar, but the Spanish-language version of the film was allowed access to Browning's dailies, which they could then use to create new angles, perspectives, and lighting setups to evoke a more artistically ambitious product.
It's difficult to compare Drácula to the legacy of the Bela Lugosi-starring film, yet many consider the Spanish-language film to be superior to Browning's film, thanks in part to the compelling cinematography and the extended running time.
Del Toro's first feature film, Cronos helped introduce audiences to the talents of the filmmaker while also kicking off a series collaborations with actor Ron Perlman.
In the film, a mysterious device that can reportedly grant a user with eternal life emerges after being forgotten for nearly 400 years. The device initially proves effective, only for a path of destruction to be created for those who encounter it.
Cronos helped alert audiences to del Toro's ambition, style, and skills at crafting mythology, which he'd go on to explore regularly later in his career. Mexico submitted the film as their entry as Best Foreign Language Film, but the Academy Awards rejected the nomination.
Following del Toro's success with Cronos, the director was tapped to direct the Mira Sorvino-starring creature feature Mimic, yet while dealing with a larger studio, the director was forced to compromise his vision. 2001's The Devil's Backbone, on the other hand, allowed the filmmaker to tap into his storytelling roots to deliver audiences an ominous ghost story for the ages.
Set during the end of the Spanish Civil War, the film focuses on an orphanage in which a massive, unexploded bomb sits in the center. When a new boy arrives, he begins to report seeing an otherworldly apparition that resembles a child who disappeared the day the bomb arrived.
Blending childlike innocence with political and supernatural themes, The Devil's Backbone is an eerie entry into the annals of horror cinema, which many consider del Toro's finest work.
Carrying on in the spirit of cinema that his longtime friend del Toro revived, director J.A. Bayona aimed to capture the spirit of '70s Spanish cinema, which required twice the budget for The Orphanage he was initially offered. Luckily, del Toro's clout helped the filmmaker realize his vision and deliver audiences this gothic-inspired thriller.
In hopes of giving back to the less fortunate, a woman returns to the orphanage in which she grew up to take care of young children. Sadly, following an altercation with her biological child, the boy goes missing, with the woman fearful that a supernatural presence could be the cause of his absence.
Incredibly moody and atmospheric, The Orphanage delivers audiences an unconventional ghost story that has some incredibly effective scares, which we hope to see on display with Bayona's upcoming Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom.
In the wake of 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, the zombie genre was revived and reinvented in a number of ways in the 2000s. Some of the best films to come out of this revived interest in the subgenre are the [REC] series, with each installment offering audiences exciting thrills.
The first film focuses on a documentary news crew who are interviewing firefighters when they respond to an emergency call from an apartment building. Shortly after their arrival, some of the building's residents begin to exhibit bizarre and dangerous symptoms, with authorities outside the building locking everyone inside as to not spread the possible contagion.
Spanning over the course of four films, each chapter offers new and interesting elements to keep the stories and filmmaking methods fresh, with many other franchises failing to recreate what makes an initial entry successful. The series uses the found footage format in exciting ways and, when the perspective begins to feel tired, the series shifts directions, with the filmmaking being as unpredictable and exciting as the narratives themselves.
Another film that utilizes the disappearance of children as an inciting event, Here Comes the Devil highlights the horrors of what happens to the children while they're gone and the threats they bring back with them.
During a vacation to Tijuana, a couple and their children accidentally get separated, with the children being located the following day. After their reunion, the parents notice that the children aren't quite the same, raising suspicions about what could have happened to them in their time apart from their parents.
Here Comes the Devil plays on a different set of fears than merely where a child could have gone, tapping into the real world horrors of a parent's worst anxieties becoming a reality.
In the not-too-distant future, a catastrophic event has devastated the globe and forced two siblings to forage for food and supplies in hopes of surviving the horrific conditions of the planet. When the brother and sister encounter a bizarre man who offers them safety and survival in exchange for helping him turn an abandoned building into a strange cocoon, the siblings discover that survival can sometimes come at a cost.
Not for the faint of heart, We Are the Flesh is ambitious, beautiful, and disturbing all at once, offering audiences a one-of-a-kind experience that depicts the horrors of how far a human will go to stay alive, no matter how much humanity they must sacrifice.