French cinema is often remembered for its highly artistic and extremely sexual contributions, but there is something completely unique and peculiar about the French horror film. Thanks in large part to the New French Extremity movement; France’s contributions to horror have recently been gruesome, haunting, polarizing, and somehow refreshing. In honor of France’s most recent horror release, As Above, So Below, we’re featuring ten of the best French horror films. —BJ COLANGELO
10. TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2002)
Claire Denis’ erotic flesh feast gives a new meaning to hungry for love. Vincent Gallo stars alongside Béatrice Dalle in this mind bending, albeit troubling film. TROUBLE EVERY DAY is a traumatically sexy picture riddled with uneasy moments and artistic cynicism.
9. ILS/THEM (2006)
A French couple is awakened one night by a group of assailants for a night of terrorization. David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s thriller is an extremely tense and effective flick. The film forces you to question what you see and what you don’t.
8. CACHÉ (2005)
A disturbing look into where voyeurism meets uncontrollable suspicion, CACHÉ sucks us into an enigmatic world of paranoia and anxiousness. The film is a meticulously paced thriller that builds an extreme amount of tension, guaranteeing to haunt you long after the film has ended.
7.HAUTE TENSION (2003)
Alexandre Aja burst onto the scene with this dynamic gorefest. While following conventional slasher elements, Aja presented one of the most brutally violent films of recent memory. Plagued with a polarizing ending, HAUTE TENSION is vicious but showcases two outstanding performances from lead actresses, Maïwenn and Cécile de France.
6. À L'INTÉRIEUR/INSIDE (2007)
A graphic home invasion film about a disturbed woman desperate to kidnap the unborn child from a young widow, À L'INTÉRIEUR is one of the most unsettling films ever made. The French love their female killers and La Femme is arguably one of the most relentless villainesses of all time.
This remake of the 1980s exploitation film of the same name is a breathtaking and stunning insight of the mind of a disturbed killer. Elijah Wood delivers one of his greatest performances and the soundtrack is near perfection. The risky use of POV helped execute this grotesque and gorgeous film.
The inspiration for Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, this psychological thriller is a classic horror staple. Famous for its double-reverse plot, the cruel and manipulative DIABOLIQUE effectively keeps audiences on their toes until the very last moment. After over fifty years, the film is still as riveting as it was when it premiered.
3. POSSESSION (1981)
This polarizing psychodrama intensely blurs the lines of genre, conventionality, sexual liberation, and politics. It’s an uncompromising, ostentatious, and beautifully visceral insight at a failing marriage interrupted by the surreal. It’s a film that can’t really be described, but should instead be experienced.
Disturbing, exciting, and painfully graphic, MARTYRS is a groundbreaking film that dishes out pure brutality with genuine and justified reasoning. The film is almost an endurance test, as it will truly push the limits of what an audience can handle. It’s an unforgettable display of extreme sadism and brutality.
1.EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1962)
Georges Franju’s twisted classic intertwines gothic poetry with shock horror. The film has the ability to pierce right through an audience and in the same breath, comfort all those affected. At times the tension will make your stomach drop, but its elegant visuals keep you from ever looking away.