One of the great things about streaming media platforms is that they offer access to entertainment from around the world. With just the click of a button, you can watch movies and shows in Polish, Thai, Dutch, Spanish, and more, all from the comfort of your couch! On top of that, streaming services tend to be more willing to take chances on fresh and foreign ideas, giving them the opportunity to flounder or flourish for audiences who might never have seen them otherwise. And for us horror fans, that means unlimited spooky, bloody, and downright scary content like the world’s goriest buffet.
The gamble here is that horror as a genre has always been a perilous form of media, as it’s often perceived as taboo-breaking and (occasionally) downright repugnant. Horror projects often portray things we don’t want to face and yet somehow find ourselves inexorably drawn to. Streaming media has taken that risk over and over again and provided us with a bevy of shows that are wonderfully unsettling and alarming.
The beauty of horror from other countries is that we get different perspectives on what is terrifying and, in some ways, the nuances of cultural differences seem to fall away when we are exposed to the visceral and primal fears that all humans share. These 10 creepy, terrifying, and dread-filled shows will take you on a tour of worldwide horror and demonstrate that when push comes to shove, we are all afraid of the same things that go bump in the dark.
Netflix’s “Black Spot” is a spooky Belgian series that takes place in the “Twin Peaks”-ish town of Villefranche. Surrounded by vast and mysterious forests, the town is quiet and remote, making the fact that the town’s murder rate is six times the national average something of an alarming anomaly. The head of the town’s police, Major Laurène Weiss (Suliane Brahim), is doing what she can to solve the murders and break the mounting tensions between the residents, but she has the added complication of newcomer Prosecutor Franck Siriani (Laurent Capelluto). While poking around where he isn’t wanted, Siriani uncovers some distressing things from Weiss’s past that seem to indicate that the town’s troubles are long-standing and more disturbing than anyone realizes.
“Black Spot” is top-notch in delivering a moody, intense atmosphere. Everything in Villefranche seems to be hostile to visitors including the bedraggled locals, the damp, depressing weather, a creepy environmental cult, the lack of cell phone coverage, and whatever that creepy creature is in the forest. The show is packed with mysteries and spooky supernatural elements that will leave you wondering whether there’s a serial killer on the loose or maybe, just maybe, the forest itself is just fed up with the town and its citizens.
While there are only two seasons presently, there’s some speculation that Netflix will eventually greenlight a third season. We hope they do, as plenty of questions are left to be answered in the dangerous little town of Villefranche.
What is it with small towns and terrifying secrets? HBO’s Spanish horror series “30 Coins” follows the story of Father Vergara (Eduard Fernández), an exorcist with a troubled past who is living in the mountaintop town of Pedraza, Spain. Vergara’s life takes a hard left turn when a local farm reports that their cow has given birth to a human child. From that strange beginning, things only get weirder as Vergara partners with Paco (Miguel Ángel Silvestre), the mayor, and Elena (Megan Montaner), the town’s veterinarian, to try and figure out what is happening. Amid the mystery, they discover one of the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus. These coins are said to give the owner vast power and a very influential sect of the Catholic Church is determined to retrieve the coin at all costs.
Each episode seems to delve into different horror tropes, such as haunted reflections, demonic possessions, and satanic conspiracies, yet it all holds together quite well to present an ominous story that unflinchingly displays its monsters in broad daylight. “30 Coins” does an excellent job of weaving in lesser-known biblical lore and mythology to create a believably twisted world that feels fresh and new in comparison to other Christian-based horror. You can look forward to a continuation of the “30 Coins” in Season 2 which is slated to come out in 2023.
Loosely based on Slavic mythology, “Cracow Monsters” is about the cursed city of Kraków, Poland. The show posits that in ancient times, an entity called Chworz terrorized the city and forced the people to sacrifice children to it. Eventually, a hero rose up from the masses and managed to kill the monster and end its reign of terror … or so everyone thought.
In the modern day, we meet a group of medical students, led by the mysterious professor Zawadzki (Andrzej Chyra), that are collecting people with magical and otherworldly powers. They discover Alex (Barbara Liberek), the ancestor of the hero that took down Chworz, and seek to help her understand her hidden powers. Unfortunately, due to cosmic coincidence, a construction worker accidentally digs up an ancient artifact that takes control of him and guides him to serve Chworz, who has returned in the body of a young boy and is regaining its strength. The fight between the students and Chworz’s servants leads Alex to learn more about her powers and the strange, glowing creature that keeps saving her life.
The series has some fantastic otherworldly moments and creatures that remind us of the work of Guillermo del Toro. Directors Kasia Adamik and Olga Chajdas mix the beautiful with the grotesque to give viewers a dark folklore that contrasts well with the snarky, punk rock life of the show’s characters. At this time, we’re eagerly awaiting a Season 2 renewal.
The Dutch horror series “Ares” takes a look at the societal elite and proposes that there might be a sinister reason behind why those people have been so successful in life. The story follows Rosa Steenwijk (Jade Olieberg), an extremely ambitious first-year medical student who feels held back from the life she wants by her lack of wealth and the fact that her mother is mentally ill. After being passed up for an important internship, Rosa is approached by an exclusive student society called the Ares. Although her good friend Jacob (Tobias Kersloot) warns her to keep away from the group, Rosa joins the Ares and quickly comes face-to-face with just how far she’ll have to be willing to go to obtain the power and wealth she truly desires … and at what cost.
“Ares” is a slow build with an ever-growing sense of dread that eases you into the horror that Rosa is immersing herself in. Partway through the show, one character asks Rosa how she thinks such a small country as the Netherlands became so powerful. The implications of the answer are chilling and lead the show even further down its terrifying narrative path. If you are looking for some creepy, gut-churning horror with some real-world critique, then make sure to check out “Ares.” You can learn more about the potential Season 2 here.
Nanno (Kitty Chicha), the lead character in the Thai series “Girl from Nowhere,” seems like a normal transfer student. She’s pretty, affable, and quick to make friends. So why is it that she transfers to a new school each episode? Well, the problem with Nanno is that she is less of a student and more of a malignancy that targets troubled students and gives them the opportunity to be their worst selves.
Each episode begins with Nanno starting at a new school and finding someone to terrorize. It usually begins with her insinuating herself into their friendship and then encouraging them in different ways, fostering their worst impulses and eventually helping them destroy themselves in the process. While Nanno might seem human to begin with (albeit a uniquely awful one), viewers will quickly realize that she might be something much more sinister, capable of spreading ruin wherever she goes.
“Girl from Nowhere” is a great show for anyone who loves a good revenge plot. Occasionally the people Nanno targets don’t seem to really deserve her attention, but all-in-all the series is satisfying in its exploration of how people can succumb to the troubling desires of their hearts and what happens when they are made to face the ugly consequences of giving in to their worst impulses. Make sure to check out our Season 2 ending explanation here so you can be ready to watch “Girl from Nowhere” when it returns for a third season in August 2023.
One classic monster that doesn’t often get enough screen time is the doppelgänger, but in this Italian supernatural drama, there are plenty to go around. “Curon” focuses its tale on the titular small town in Northern Italy. Daria (Margherita Morchio) and Mauro (Federico Russo) are fraternal twins who have been dragged to their mother’s hometown to avoid their father. Neither teenager is very happy about having to move into the family’s nigh-abandoned hotel, nor about transferring to a new school in the middle of nowhere, but they’re making the best of it.
The real problem is everyone in town seems to have a vendetta against their family. Add to that a creepy tower in the middle of a lake that supposedly can drive a person crazy if they hear its bells tolling and you have the start of an intriguing story, especially once the twins realize that some of the people have been replaced by their doppelgängers and they can’t afford to trust anyone. The twins must try to save their mother from the creatures before it is too late.
“Curon” isn’t groundbreaking with its body-snatcher-like themes, but the relationship between brother and sister switches up the narrative with Daria being the brash hothead who is fiercely protective of her shyer, sensitive brother. Their performance keeps the show engaging and the mysterious nature of the creatures will keep you guessing what their true motives are.
“Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes” is a dark comedy from Norway. The main character, Live Hallangen (Kathrine Thorborg Johansen), is found dead in a field and without thinking the police phone the local undertaker, her brother Odd (Elias Holmen Sørensen), to come and pick her up (talk about an embarrassing faux pas). Fortunately for Live, she awakens on the autopsy table with no memory of what happened. Everyone is overjoyed at her second chance at life; everyone, that is, except for her father. He begins acting strangely around Live and eventually knocks her out with chloroform and tries to burn her alive in the crematorium. Live escapes, accidentally killing her father in the process, and returns home, unable to make sense of what just happened.
Alongside Live, we watch as she tries to understand her father’s motives and slowly becomes aware of some dark, sinister truths about her mother’s supernatural nature, which she now shares. Now saddled with the knowledge of her origin (and a thirst for blood), Live spends the rest of the show exploring the events that led up to her “death,” as well as the challenge of navigating the real world as a supernatural predator. Much of the show’s horror is intercut with humor from the ridiculous situations the characters find themselves in; if you love horror but want something a little on the lighter side, “Post Mortem: No One Dies In Skarnes” could be a great fit.
The French series “Marianne” explores the classic trope of a writer whose creations haunt them in real life. Best-selling author Emma Larsimon (Victoire Du Bois) wants to be done with writing horror, but it seems like her horror isn’t quite done with her. When Caroline (Aurore Broutin), an old friend from home, shows up at Emma’s book signing, it’s obvious something is deeply wrong. Caroline begs Emma to return home as she believes her mother has been possessed by a witch named Marianne, a character from one of Emma’s stories.
Emma, of course, can’t believe Caroline’s bizarre accusations, but she’s compelled to search for answers once Caroline hangs herself publicly. Emma and her assistant Camile return to Emma’s hometown and realize that it’s not just Caroline’s family that is suffering Marianne’s curse. As more and more strange things happen, Emma comes to realize that the things she writes become reality and that she must try to stop the witch herself.
The visceral visuals in “Marianne” are the skin-crawling kind of horror that will make you squirm in your seat — there’s one shudder-inducing scene early on involving a tooth that haunts us to this day. The narrative jumps back and forth between time and realities, making some parts of the story a little confusing at first, but each episode has delightfully horrible moments that will keep you up at night. Sadly, the series was canceled, but there’s enough in Season 1 to keep most horror aficionados engaged.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
“Ju-On: Origins” is a Japanese series that presents itself as the “true story” behind the events of the original films, setting the stage for the iconic horror franchise. The show builds slowly, but the brutal violence mixed with the spooky supernatural elements make for an intriguing watch.
“Ju-On: Origins” jumps around in the timeline, but the basic premise is that an actress, Haruka Honjo (Yuina Kuroshima), has experienced a haunting that she believes started with her boyfriend, Tetsuya (Kai Inowaki). In trying to find a home for them both, Tetsuya visits a house where he is confronted by the ghost of a woman wearing white, a color often associated with both purity and death in Japanese horror. From that moment, he is haunted by it. Brutal things happen in that house and it appears that anyone who visits it is cursed in some way.
In order to solve the mystery behind the curse, Haruka teams up with paranormal investigator Yasuo Odajima (Yoshiyoshi Arakawa), and a child protection agent, Kimie Ariyasu (Kana Kurashina). Unfortunately for our protagonists, the curse is a powerful, sinister force and the show pulls no punches on just how bad things can get. “Ju-On: Origins” can be a hard watch if you are triggered by domestic violence and rape, but it serves to illustrate that the story of Ju-On is much, much worse than the films first indicated.
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
“Feria: The Darkest Light” at first feels like a pretty familiar creepy cult movie, but its location in Spain in the mid-’90s gives it some really engaging character. Set in a remote village in the Spanish countryside, the local mine becomes the centerpiece of a mystery when 23 people are found naked and dead just outside its entrance. They have no visible wounds, but a security camera managed to capture footage of the group leaving the mine and collapsing as if poisoned. For reasons rooted in the plot, the immediate suspects behind this bizarre slaughter are the parents of two teenage girls, Sofia (Carla Campra) and Eva (Ana Tomeno) whose lives are turned upside down by not only the investigation but also the fact that a group of sinister cultists has taken an interest in recruiting Sophia so that she can further their dark agenda somehow connected to her family.
“Feria” takes a few truly unexpected twists that will have you wondering just who the bad guys might actually be as an otherworldly threat begins to reveal itself amidst the cultish horror. “Feria: The Darkest Light” mixes the drama surrounding Sofia’s relationship with her sister, her friends, and the cult itself with elements of cosmic horror and strangely cute demonic cat creatures. While the show ends on a cliffhanger, you won’t have to wait long to find out what happens as Season 2 releases on January 27, 2023!