10 Best Japanese Horror Movies 2021

by Erika Shinomoto
best japanese horror movies

We curated the best Japanese horror movies for you! Check out this list of Japanese horror movies for your next horror movie night! 

I love nothing more than a good horror movie to keep me all night when I am absolutely famished. In the world of horror and hair-raising moments, the best Japanese horror movies are the boss. Japanese horror movies have also influenced the horror culture around the world. 

For me, Japanese horror movies absolutely triumph over American horror movies. I love that these movies are not always straightforward and there is a lot of psychological backstory to most of them. 

Best Japanese Horror Movies — Quick Summary

Best Japanese Horror MoviesGenreEditor’s Rating
RingSupernatural Horror7.1/10
KairoTechno Horror6.6/10
AuditionMystery-Thriller Horror7.2/10
GrudgePsychological Horror4.3/10
Dark WaterMystery-Thriller Horror5.6/10
UzumakiSci-Fi Horror6.2/10
TagAction Horror6.5/10
CurePsychological Horror7.4/10
Sadako vs KayakoSupernatural Horror5.1/10
Hell GirlSuspense Horror4.8/10

Japanese culture is filled with stories about ghosts and demons, and Japanese horror movies reflect them quite well. Also, I love that Japanese horror movies are not just about spirits and demons; there is also a lot of blood and gore. 

Here are some of my favorite and best Japanese horror movies that I would love to recommend to you.

Top Japanese Horror Movies

Ring

Genre: Supernatural Horror | Run Time: 2h 25mins | Director: Gore Verbinski

Nothing is better than Ring to chill you down to your bone marrow. The movie is about a VHS tape that is cursed and it delivers a horrible death within seven days to anyone who watches it. 

This movie really made a very big impact, and not just in Japan, but worldwide. Ever since it first came out, there have been several remakes and sequels. The movie is a complete fusion of folklore, urban myth, and modern technology. 

I really recommend you to watch this masterpiece if you want several hair-raising moments.

Kairo

Genre: Techno Horror | Run Time: 1h 59mins | Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

I hate it when directors think it is cool to use technology to impart horror. This Japanese movie literally made me never want to use technology again. Our lives today are filled with every kind of technology right from phones, to televisions and the internet. 

Kairo is also known as Pulse, and it is a classic movie that has hostile spirits that have invaded the physical world with the help of the internet. The movie shows that everyone who encounters these spirits is left depressed and they eventually commit suicide or become black stains. 

After watching this movie, I was very scared of using my phone and the internet for a good one week. It made me shiver and I always imagined some ghost might just pop up out of the screen. 

If you are tired of using your laptop or phone the whole day, I suggest you watch this movie. You are bound to stay away from it for quite a while.

Audition

Genre: Mystery-Thriller Horror | Run Time: 1h 55mins | Director: Takashi Miike

Audition is a horror movie that proves to you that humans can be worse than ghosts. The movie revolves around a widower who wants to find a new wife and for that purpose he holds an audition. In that audition, he finds a woman named Asami and falls for her. 

The only problem here is that there is something very mysterious revolving around this woman. While the woman herself is very charming, everything around her is pretty messed up. 

Whoever knows her either goes missing or has missing limbs. The movie made its impact on me because of its excellent graphic climax. 

When I first started watching the movie, I actually thought it was a romantic drama, but the actual fear begins as the story progresses and there is nothing you can do but scream when it happens.

Grudge 

Genre: Psychological Horror | Run Time: 1h 32mins | Director:Takashi Shimizu

Grudge is probably one of the most well-known and well-written Japanese horror movies. The Grudge is the first Japanese horror movie that I ever watched and it haunted me pretty badly. 

However, now that I have watched it several times, I have come to the realization that this movie is actually an amalgamation of several scary pieces that just run together. Yes, a lot of horrible things happen in the movie and it can keep you up all night, but the initial scare that I got is long gone. 

Every scene in the movie will hit you right in the spot and you will have a lot of goosebumps throughout.

Dark Water

Genre: Mystery-Thriller Horror | Run Time: 1h 40mins | Director: Hideo Nakata

Dark Water is an absolute classic that you need to watch. It really is worth the watch even though it remains quite underrated. The movie follows the story of a single mother, Yoshimi. Yoshimi is going through a divorce and she needs to prove that she can take care of her daughter. 

To prove this, she moves into a dilapidated apartment with her daughter and that is where the haunting experience begins. There are so many creepy things happening in the house that you must have seen in several horror movies, but when you see it here in Dark Water, it will give you chills. 

The ceiling leaks, black hair appears in the tap water, and there is also a creepy and scary child ghost. The backdrop of horror is complemented by the mother-daughter relationship portrayed in the movie.

Uzumaki

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror | Run Time: 1h 31mins  | Director: Higuchinsky

Uzumaki is based on a horror manga with the same name. It is one of the creepiest movies I have ever seen. The movie is extremely scary and it follows the story of a cursed town that is haunted by ominous spirals. 

The spirals affect the inhabitants of the town and they sometimes commit suicide. The protagonists of the movie want to break the curse, but the real question here is, can the curse really be broken? 

Now, every horror movie that I have ever watched has at least one vengeful female ghost lashing out at everyone. But there is no such ghost in this movie. The back story brings a sense of hopelessness and a very nightmarish situation. 

best japanese horror movies

There are so many things that will creep you out, including a man crawling into a washing machine and people turning into snails. If you want a night full of screams, this is the one.

Tag

Genre: Action Horror | Run Time: 1h 25mins | Director: Sion Sono

Tag is a horror movie but it is unlike anything you have ever seen in your life. It is unconventional, and it brings in a lot of feminism. The opening scene will literally make you feel that the movie is quite absurd, but wait till you get into it. 

When I first watched this movie, I was not sure whether to expect a lot of hair-raising chills or to follow the life of a regular school girl. I got the hang of the theme being played in the movie as it progressed and believe me, you will not be disappointed. 

The opening of the movie introduces us to Mitsouko, a schoolgirl who is on a bus with her classmates. Suddenly every single one in the bus is sliced in half by a gust of wind. The only survivor on the bus is Mitsouko herself. 

After this, we follow the journey of Mitsouko’s life after this fiasco. The fight for survival can be seen in scenarios that are extremely violent. She sees her classmates go through a horrific death and she must be the one to figure out what is going on. 

There is just so much happening in the movie, with teachers having machine guns and a groom with the pig’s head. The movie is all about horror but it also brings to the forefront other issues such as the objectification of women. 

The movie is extremely creative even though you may find it absurd for a horror movie. However, believe me, it really is worth the watch.

Cure

Genre: Psychological Horror | Run Time: 1h 50mins | Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

I love myself a good psycho-thriller and believe me, Cure really delivers the best. The movie takes us into the evil nature and mind of a psycho killer; it is very disturbing and I couldn’t sleep at night thinking of everything I had seen in the movie. 

In the movie, a detective is trying to investigate a series of murders with different killers. However, each of these killings had one thing in common; there was an X carved on the neck in every single body. 

We think that the detective is getting closer to solving this mystery, but here is where we go wrong. The story becomes mysterious as it progresses. This really is a movie you must have on your watchlist.

Sadako vs Kayako – Best Japanese Horror Movies

Genre: Supernatural Horror | Age Rating: 13+ | Run Time: 1h 38 mins | Director: Koji Shiraishi

If there is one Japanese movie you absolutely need to watch, it is this one. This is the movie that brings together the ghost of the Ring and The Grudge. Here you can see the ultimate face-off to find out which of these vengeful ghosts is stronger. 

The movie follows the story of Natsume, a woman who watches a videotape of Sadako’s curse and realizes that she might just get killed by Sadako soon. To save herself, she gets Sadako against Kayako, who is a malevolent spirit residing in a haunted house. 

This move is done by Natsume to ensure her safety because she believes these two spirits will fight each other and kill each other, thus ending the curse. 

Hell Girl

Genre: Suspense Horror | Run Time: 1h 47mins | Director: Koji Shiraishi

Hell Girl is a movie that is based on Manga and anime, and it is something that I recommend to everyone. The movie revolves around a strange supernatural site that can be accessed by people who have been tormented. 

However, this is only possible if the people’s grief is strong enough. By visiting the supernatural site, these tormented people can take their revenge by sending their tormentors to hell. But it is not that simple. The client also has to go to hell at the end of their life. This vengeance is delivered by the hell girl who is quite mysterious and who enters into a contract with the client. 

My favorite part in the entire movie is when the hell girl recites the same line to every person whom she has condemned to hell: “Would you like to see what death is like?” I would not like to but that definitely does creep you out every time you hear it.

Which is the best Japanese horror movie?

If you ask me, the best Japanese horror movie is definitely Cure. It is a movie that does not just creep you out, it also plays with your psycho reality. The movie progresses and with every passing minute, the mystery deepens and the hair raising begins. This is one horror movie you must absolutely watch.

Get ready to be chilled and have Goosebumps with these best Japanese horror movies!

Also Read:

  1. Best Netflix Shows to Understand Japanese 
  2. Best Japanese Anime Of All Time
  3. Best Japanese Animation Movies
Cure

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Date Created: 2018-04-23 00:00

Editor's Rating:
5

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