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Japan is a country which makes media in all of sorts of genres, and one of them (and my particular favorite) is horror. Starting from the Yostuya Kaidan (horror stories made in 1729, a real classic) to Sadako (the main character of the Ring series), Japan has a solid reputation for creating good horror. Here are 11 Dark Japanese movies, including horror and suspense works, that will definitely make you lose sleep.

(The images below may be quite terrifying, so keep reading at your own risk!)

1. Ring Series

(Summary) Watch a video tape, and in 7 days,  you die.

Since most people don’t use video tapes anymore, it loses some of the terror, but it is still quite a terrifying movie. Hollywood made a remake of the series, titled The Ring. (Image above)

2. Jyuon (The Grudge) Series

(Summary) Visit or live in a haunted house, your friends, family, children, and you will die, painfully and grotesquely. 

I highly recommend the video version, which has more of a raw feeling to it. Impressive gore and sense of dread from the main two ghosts, Kayako and Toshio. They are two very thorough ghosts, never leaving the job undone. This series has also had a remake in Hollywood, titled The Juon. 

3. Chakushin Ari (One Missed Call) Series

(Summary) Receive a call from yourself, and you die in 3 days.

As the first movie was made in 2004, the cell phones are huge compared to nowadays, which does kind of lessen the sense of terror a little. This ghost is the series has a particular sad back story. Again, Hollywood made a remake of this titled One Missed Call.

4. Honogurai Mizu no Soko Kara (From the Bottom of the Musky Waters)

(Summary) A mother and her child move into an old apartment. They start having problems with their leaking taps and water marks on the ceiling. The child starts talking about a little girl who doesn’t seem to show up when the mother’s around and strange things begin to happen… 

This is my absolute favorite Japanese horror movie. There aren’t exactly any jump scares or gore, just the constant feeling of dread and dampness, which is something I have only ever seen in Japanese horror movies. The ghost in this one also has a very sad background story, and like the others mentioned above, this movie has had a Hollywood remake titled Dark Water. 

5. Kansen (Infection)

(Summary) In an old hospital, a doctor makes a mistake during a procedure, killing a patient. In order to cover up the error, the doctors and nurses put the corpse in a heated room, hoping that it will start to decay along with the evidence itself. In midst of this fiasco, a body on a stretcher is found in front of the ER reception desk. A body with its intestines all melted out…

Another perfect example of the creepy Japanese horror atmosphere. This movie is particularly brilliant in showing gore and psychological horror. A great twist in the end, too.

6. Kuroi Ie (The Black House)

(Summary) A man from an insurance company looks into the case of a boy’s suicide. He suspects that the parents of this boy are infamous insurance money fraudsters, and his suspicions grow as he looks further into the case…

This movie is a must see, just because of Shinobu Ootake. Her acting is outstanding, and extremely terrifying. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you have a thing for creepy acting, this is it. Remake in Korea by the name of Black House.

7. Jyoyu Rei

(Summary) While filming his debut movie, a producer notices a odd video clip while editing, and strange things start to happen. 

The debut movie of the director of Ring. You can really see similarities in the ghost and the atmosphere. A Hollywood remake was made, titled Don’t Look Up.

8. Audition

(Summary) A man, who lost his wife, lived quietly with his son. His friend suggests that he hold an audition, in order to find a new wife. He gradually becomes infatuated with a particular woman, not knowing she was one of a kind.

One word: ouch. As you can see from the image above, this is not a movie for the fainted heart. Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Highly recommended when you don’t feel like sleeping.

9. Rinne (Samsara)

(Summary) 35 years ago, 11 people were murdured by a single man. 35 years later, a movie director shoots a movie based on the incident at the very same house where it happened.  The main actress starts having nightmares and visions of little girls and an unfamiliar hotel. As the shooting starts, things start getting very strange…

Great atmosphere, some jump scares, a very sad and big plot twist in the end. 

10. Kokuhaku (Confession)

(Summary) The movie starts with the confession of a teacher in a middle school. A teacher who recently lost her little daughter in an accident in school. She starts confessing she has suspicions. Suspicions that it was not an accident, and someone in her class was responsible for it… 

Kudos goes to acting of the teacher, Takako Matsu. This is more of a suspense than a horror movie. The movie goes on by confessions of various characters, revealing the truth. Immersing and heart breaking. 

11. Akunin (Villain)

(Summary) One homicide, a man who killed and a woman who loved him, a family torn apart. As the homicide is shown from different perspectives, but who is the real villain?

This is not a horror film, but more of a humanity themed movie. What terrified me the most was the man who caused the victim to stay in the mountain in the first place (you’ll know what I mean when you watch it). Brilliant acting from Masaki Okada and Hikaru Mitsushima. 

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