'Dachra', 'The Last Matinee' and 'Teddy': Three new foreign language horror treats to check out

·5-min read

SEPTEMBER 4 ― One of the great blessings of the relentless forward march of streaming is the increasing acceptance of foreign language content in the mass market scene, with more and more people in English-speaking countries being open to watching (and enjoying) movies and series in foreign languages.

A Screen Daily article published in December 2020 even noted that Netflix US viewers consumed 50 per cent more foreign language content in 2020, with hits like The Platform and Money Heist (both from Spain) and Korean hit zombie series Kingdom being particular highlights.

Maybe the fact that streaming is very much dominated by subscriber-based services has in itself contributed to this increase in consumption of foreign language content since the subtitle-reading barrier is much easier to break down due to the fact that the content is already there for the viewers to access without having to fork out any extra money.

In short, there are way more reasons to avoid foreign language films when not only are you quite resistant to reading subtitles, but you’ll also have to take a chance on some content that you’re not familiar with (and which are likely not massively promoted as well) and shell out some cash to watch them in the cinema.

So, it’s kind of sweet to see more and more foreign language content being consumed and released these days, with even the horror genre benefiting from this increased interest lately, as films like A Classic Horror Story from Italy, Blood Red Sky from Germany and The Swarm from France have all enjoyed pretty high profile releases on Netflix in the last two months or so.

Here are three more new foreign language horror flicks that you may have missed, but are definitely worth watching.

Dachra

It took almost two years for this, the first-ever Tunisian horror movie, to reach the US after its premiere at the Venice Critics Week in 2018.

Released in cinemas and on VOD platforms like iTunes and Prime Video, this feature film debut by writer-director Abdelhamid Bouchnak is not without its faults, as Bouchnak sometimes struggles to conjure up the expected scares, but his unique and eccentric eye for composition (with some shots deliberately set up with what looks like an inverted looking room) makes this one an interesting watch.

The story is one you’ve seen in a thousand horror movies before, about a trio of journalism students making a group project about a woman in a mental hospital, who then end up in a remote village to follow up on her story, and find more than they bargained for there.

It’s The Blair Witch Project meets The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, with a Tunisian witchcraft twist and a very arthouse eye for composition.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, then I suggest you check this out pronto!

A screenshot of a scene from ‘The Last Matinee’.
A screenshot of a scene from ‘The Last Matinee’.

The Last Matinee

Released just last week on VOD digital platforms, this loving tribute to the slasher films of the 80s from Uruguayan writer-director Maximiliano Contenti is, first of all, one heck of a beautifully shot film.

In fact, I’d say that the film is also a loving tribute to giallo films as well, as it’s definitely shot like one, bringing to mind the visual wonders that one can usually find in films by the likes of Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci.

Like a non-supernatural version of Demons, it’s mostly set in an old school movie theatre in Montevideo, Uruguay, and the premise is as simple and straightforward as they come.

A group of strangers are watching a movie in a big old cinema, and there’s a serial killer on the loose among them, killing them off one by one, and it’s up to the projectionist’s daughter to figure things out and save whoever she can.

There’s no obvious social commentary on display too, making this one a straight up, no holds barred, carnival of carnage, all of which are executed with supreme technical aplomb by Contenti and his team, and shot with absolutely gorgeous style by cinematographer Benjamin Silva, making this one an undeniable Hollywood calling card for everyone involved.

Maxi Contenti, remember that name.

Teddy

An Official Selection at Cannes 2020, this sweetly unique French werewolf flick is a Shudder Original film which premiered there as part of its Summer Of Chills lineup in August.

One might legitimately wonder what a werewolf flick is doing in the Cannes Official Selection lineup, even if the movie is French, but a mere 20 minutes into the film is enough for the viewer to notice what a confident genre mash-up this turned out to be from filmmaking brothers Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma, who managed to fuse genres as disparate as the werewolf flick, black comedy, social realist drama and coming of age film into one irresistibly coherent whole.

The Teddy of the film’s title (played by the wonderful Anthony Bajon, in what might just be a star-making performance) is an awkward, shaven headed heavy metal loving teenager living in rural France.

He’s an outcast, but somehow still manages to snag himself a rich girlfriend, with whom he dreams of making a future with.

An unfortunate scratch from a werewolf one night somehow throws a huge spanner into the proceedings, as he finds himself having to deal with the physical and emotional changes that this transformation brings, which makes this kind of a male version of Ginger Snaps, in which the lycanthrope serves as a metaphor for growing up.

An occasionally awkward and often delightful experience, just like Teddy himself.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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