Europe was not only the birthplace of important film movements such as German Expressionism in the 1920s and the French New Wave that emerged in the late 1950s. Nicknamed “The Other Hollywood,” European cinema provided a new frame of mind for the public, where films that emphasized psychological and metaphysical phenomena were often experimental and treated with the same adoration by audiences as mainstream films.
Filled with themes ranging from death and existentialism to eerie coming-of-age tales, European art-house horror films are no exception, shocking and intriguing audiences from every corner of the world.
‘Deep Red’ (1975)
No list of visually-horrifying art-house horror films would be complete without touching on the mastery of the Italian director. Dario Argento. While audiences are probably most familiar with the director’s 1977 A work of horror Suspiriaits giallo A precursor to horror deep red (1975) deserves equal attention and appreciation from audiences today.
deep red sees David Hemmings As an English jazz musician who witnesses the murder of a famous psychic. With the help of a zealous reporter played by Daria NicolodiThe two begin investigating a series of gruesome murders committed by an unknown man wearing black leather gloves.
‘The Skin I Live In’ (2011)
Heavily inspired by French horror classics Eyes without a face (1960), this 2011 Spanish psychological thriller director reunites Pedro Almodovar and actors Antonio Banderas from again Tie me up! Tie me up! (1989), and it is undoubtedly a truly fascinating yet skin-crawling experience.
Motivated by a family tragedy, plastic surgeon Robert Ledgard (Banderas) develops an artificial skin called “GAL” that is resistant to any kind of damage, burns and even insect bites. Unbeknownst to the public, he is testing his creation on a beautiful woman with a mysterious past named Vera (Elena Anaya), who is held against her will in her secluded estate.
Literally translated as “The Devil”, the Polish director Andrzej Żulawskiwho Diabel (1972) is a horror drama that, despite the heavy dose of Polish history, still and all manages to introduce the audience to the unfamiliar world of hysteria with a heavy psychedelic rock soundtrack.
The film is about a young Polish nobleman, Jakub (Leszek Teleszynski) who is unexpectedly freed from captivity by a stranger. Accompanied by a white-clad nun, Jakub slowly descends into madness and becomes a murderer due to the nightmarish chaos that haunts his hometown, where immoral exploitation and empty corruption reign supreme.
‘Goodnight Mummy’ (2014)
Austrian psychological horror film good night mom (2014) owns one of the scariest twins in cinema since the 80’s horror staple Girls. shine (1980). The film is partially influenced by the 1972 American horror film other and has since undergone an American remake released on Amazon Prime in 2022.
When their mother returns home after her cosmetic surgery, the nine-year-old twin brothers are shocked to see their mother’s drastically different appearance with a bandage on her head, as well as her eccentric and sometimes hostile behavior. They begin to question whether the cruel woman in their house is really her or not.
‘Funny Games’ (1997)
Austrian film director and screenwriter Michael Haneke He is no stranger to introducing morally ambiguous and socially disturbed characters into his oeuvre. A third of the audience walked out of the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, Haneke said Funny games (1997) is anything but funny.
The psychological thriller explores the violent and abusive shenanigans that two psychopathic youths force a family to take part in for their entertainment. With no clear explanation of the men’s identities or intentions, the grieving family may reluctantly participate in fleeing the outside world or scavenging for any possibility of help.
‘Let the Right One In’ (2008)
What if you find out your best and only friend is a 200 year old vampire? Swedish horror drama, with a little jumpscare, is replaced with plenty of romanticism and lyrical poetry, aided by the lovely landscapes of Blackberg, Stockholm.
Set in 1982, Lone Outsider Oscar (Kåre Hedebrant) is constantly bullied by his classmates for his introversion and uniqueness. After befriending her new neighbor Eli (Lena Leanderson) who appears only at night on the playground, Oscar learns to rise above the bullies and is also romantically attracted to Ellie. Their relationship is put to the test when Oscar discovers that Ellie kills and feeds on human blood to survive.
‘Kill, baby…Kill!’ (1966)
Known by fans as the “Master of the Macabre”, the Italian director Mario Bava’s films often contain recurring themes and visuals that make the audience question the difference between reality and fantasy, leading to a plethora of horror cult classics that have inspired many arthouse horror films today.
father’s Kill, baby… Kill! (1966) centers on a European village in the early 1900s that is terrorized by the ghost of a young girl who curses those who visit her. When Dr. Paul AD (Giacomo Rossi Stuartand medical student Monica Shufton (Erica Blank) investigate mysterious deaths in the village, they are soon caught up in the nightmare hallucinations of a little girl with a vengeance,
Gaspar Noewho irreversible (2002) is a film so brutal and brutal that you’ll want to watch it just once for yourself. composition mentis. Told in chronological reverse order, the psychological horror film is an unmissable tour-de-force from the French New Extreme film movement at the turn of the 21st century.
When charming and free-spirited Alex (Monica Bellucci) is brutally attacked and sexually assaulted in an isolated pedestrian underpass by a deranged psychopath known only by his nickname Le Tenia, two men Marcus (Vincent Castle) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) relentlessly seek revenge on her attacker. The despair and nihilism of the film is further heightened when the audience is forced to visit the trio’s happy past before the tragedy.
‘The Devil’s Backbone’ (2002)
Fans of gothic horror are undeniably familiar with the director Guillermo del Toro‘s impressive filmography, including his lesser-known gems like the 2002 horror fantasy drama The Devil’s Backbone (2002) where the undead and other supernatural situations provide a spine-tingling, blood-curdling cinematic experience.
In the final days of the Spanish Civil War in 1939, a young orphan named Carlos (Fernando Tilva) resides in a Santa Lucia orphanage where he not only burys friendships and witnesses the horrors of war but is bombarded by haunting visions of an otherworldly existence that embodies the dark secrets of the school he currently resides in.
Combining chimerical creatures such as satyrs and fauns exhibiting half-human, half-animal characteristics from Greek mythology, Valdimar JóhannssonUnlike the Icelandic folk horror film, the 1991 horror thriller Silence of the Lambs, Usually Tam species as its focal point where bedlam arises.
After discovering that one of their pregnant sheep has given birth to a half-sheep, half-human newborn on their farm in Iceland, a couple Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) decide to adopt the mysterious hybrid as their own child. The happily married couple slowly realize that their happiness is only fleeting when both nature and humanity are determined to return the half-breed child to the wilderness.
Next: 10 Best English-Language Art-House Horror Movies for a Visually Scary Halloween