7 Essential French Horror Movies You Have To Watch

The best French horror movies you should watch

Since its emergence in the early 21st century, French New Wave horror has delivered some of the most innovative, imaginative, and groundbreaking horror films that I have seen, and while they pay homage to established horror sub-genres such as slasher, revenge, home invasion, and particularly body horror, and draw inspiration from legendary directors like Cronenberg and Hooper, they have also charted their own course, producing some remarkably original and challenging stories, and has also given rise to some of the best female protagonists in horror movie history.

Inside

The premise of Inside is simple yet quite terrifying: a mysterious woman breaks into a pregnant woman's apartment with the intention of removing her unborn baby using a pair of sharp scissors. The entire film takes place over the course of just a few hours, but it is a masterclass in building tension and suspense.

Despite knowing what's coming, you are kept very much on edge with what is happening as you witness every excruciating moment of the protagonist's trauma. The film is not shot in slow-motion, but it often feels that way as we endure the one-on-one battle between the two women. 

The emotionally exhausting and gruesome ending is both disturbing yet strangely satisfying. [Inside on IMDB]

Frontier(s)

This film is an absolute must-watch, despite its brutal and unnerving nature. The best way I can describe this would be if you combine the best elements of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hostel and The Hills Have Eyes, you still won't come close to the sheer terror and entertainment value of Frontier(s)

I won't give away too much, but the synopsis should peak your interest....Or not, who knows.

A gang of young criminals flee Paris in a bid for freedom, only to find themselves ensnared by a family of Nazi cannibals intent on breeding a new Aryan master race

If you have never seen it, do yourself a favor and go and watch it, by any legal means necessary...[Frontier(s) on IMDB)

High Tension

High Tension is almost on par with the above, and is again a must see. It follows the story of Marie and her best friend Alex as they embark on a journey to Alex's parent's house in the French countryside. 

The film introduces us to the two characters in Alex's car, creating a false sense of security that this is just a simple tale of two college girls studying hard. But, their peaceful trip is abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a sadistic serial killer. The film's climax is its strongest point, delivering a deeply disturbing yet satisfying ending. [High Tension on IMDB]

Mutants

Mutants is a film that captures the same  essence as 28 Days Later, with a storyline that bears striking similarities. Despite this,  it manages to breathe new life into the zombie genre, a noteworthy feat. The film poses a question: what do you do when someone you love is bitten by a zombie and you know they will turn? 

In  the movie, the protagonist chains their infected loved one in an abandoned hospital, hoping for a military evacuation before it's too late. 

Mutants proves that a genre doesn't need to be reinvented to create a great film, a few original changes can make all the difference. It's a bit underrated and under appreciated in my view and is well worth watching. [Mutants on IMDB]

Them

 Them is a fantastic movie with a deceptively simple plot. It follows a couple living in a secluded home in the woods who are terrorized by an unknown entity lurking in the darkness. 

Based on true events, the film's straightforwardness makes it difficult to discuss without giving away the entire story, with its unique take on the Cabin-in-the-Woods subgenre of horror, the movie is a nonstop thrill ride. 

Despite its short runtime of only 78 minutes, the tension you feel while watching and experiencing it makes it feel much longer. [Them on IMDB]

High Lane

High Lane is a thrilling survivalist horror movie that pays homage to classics that came before. It's like Friday the 13th, but without the comforts of Camp Crystal Lake. The story follows a group of city-dwellers who embark on a daring adventure in the remote Swiss Alps. 

Only one of them though has experience rock climbing though, and the dangers of high altitude the characters face are compounded by a love triangle that ignites jealousy and competition. As tensions rise, the characters are presented with multiple opportunities to turn on each other, and the moral code of society seems to evaporate in this isolated environment. 

To make matters worse, a deformed, feral human lurks in the woods and rocks, wreaking havoc on the group. [High Lane on IMDB]

Martyrs

Martyrs is a movie that is not for the faint of heart. Director Pascal Laugier's warning to viewers in the unrated DVD intro is either a marketing ploy or a sign of his own self-doubt, as the film is a brilliant and uncompromising vision with incredible depth. 

It is brutal, disturbed, and horrifying to the extreme, but it also has three distinct acts, each with its own climax and revelations. One of the most unique and unsettling horror villains in recent memory is introduced in the form of an elderly, well-dressed woman known only as Mademoiselle

This film will leave an impact on anyone who watches it. [Martyrs on IMDB]

What's your favorite French horror movie? Let me know in the comments!

Check out some other lists while you're here!

The very best supernatural horror films
Horror movies about demonic possession
The best survival horror movies that aren't Saw
Korean horror movies that are well worth watching
The best horror movie soundtrack themes
Horror movies released in 2020 you should watch
Horror movie remakes better then the original

Comments