The 90s brought on the exploding popularity of J-horror (Japanese horror), inspiring the entirety of the Asian horror genre to take on a new face and make a name for itself in the film industry.

Asian horror differentiated itself from traditional Western portrayals, showing more psychological, supernatural films that explored the dark unknown. As a result, we got to witness the emergence of the scariest Asian horror films of the new millennium. Come check them out.

Ju-On: The Grudge (2002)

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Image from Lions Gate Films

Joining the ranks of Ringu, Ju-On made its mark in 2002 as one of Japan’s legendary horror flicks. The film follows the misfortune that befalls individuals who enter a cursed house. Although this installment is actually the third, viewers don’t necessarily have to watch the first two films to get their fair share of scares.

Dark Water (2002)

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Image from Toho

Straight from the director of Ringu, Dark Water is another eerie tale of a death gone wrong. In the film, a divorced mother and her young daughter find home in a rundown apartment with a strange water leak coming from above. It’s creepy, it’s weird, and honestly a bit sad, but Dark Water proves that a horror movie doesn’t need to be filled with cliches to make its impact.

The Eye (2002)

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Image from Mediacorp Raintree Pictures

If you’ve seen the Jessica Alba remake, then there should be no reason for you to skip out on the Hong Kong original. In The Eye, a blind violinist undergoes an eye transplant that gives her a new kind of “sight”. As she copes with the after-effects of the surgery, she’s faced with decisions that can literally make a difference between life or death. The film isn’t so much scary as it is chilling, but it’s definitely in the higher tiers of the Asian horror genre.

Shutter (2004)

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Image from GMM Tai Hub

Shutter catapulted Thai horror to the world stage with its frightening jump scares and surprising twist ending. It’s about a couple who struggle to find out the mystery behind their oddly developed photos. After ghostly encounters and a shocking discovery, they soon realize that escape will be harder than it seems. Shutter was a huge success in Thailand and eventually the whole world, even spawning a 2008 Hollywood remake.

The Wailing (2016)

Image from 20th Century Fox Korea

Not to be outdone, South Korea struck gold in the Asian horror scene with The Wailing, a film that shows a strange illness spreading throughout a remote countryside village. The Wailing is one of the newer entries in the genre, and also one of the most successful. It swept a number of film awards in Korea and gained universal critical acclaim.

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