Horror fans looking for something new and inventive this Halloween should look no further than Indian cinema.
As Bollywood movies are known for their musical numbers and over-the-top action sequences, Indian thriller and horror subgenres are often overlooked. India is home to some of the spookiest, most spine-tingling films out there, so here are some of our favorites:
Directed by Ram Gopal Varma, “Kaun?” is a psychological thriller about a woman alone in her house who, upon hearing about a serial killer on the loose, gets spooked when a stranger rings her doorbell.
What makes it scary: The initial big scare and constant paranoia are sustained throughout the film up until it hits an unforgettable crescendo.
More reasons to watch: Urmila Matondkar delivers a remarkable performance as the woman only referred to as “Ma’am.” The film is considered a cult classic among horror fans in India.
The edge-of-your-seat thriller “Pizza” tells the story of a delivery boy named Michael (Vijay Sethupathy) who narrates to his boss a terrifying event he purportedly experienced during a home delivery run.
What makes it scary: The suffocating tension amid the lead’s apparent helplessness when sh*t starts hitting the proverbial fan is inescapable.
More reasons to watch: The film became both a critical and commercial success, turning Sethupathy into a certified star in Tamil cinema.
Psychological thriller “Lucia” is about a theater usher named Nikki (Sathish Ninasam) who gets to live the life of a famous actor after consuming a special pill that blurs the line between dreams and reality.
What makes it scary: What’s more terrifying than losing yourself in a dream that you would never want to wake up from?
More reasons to watch: This Kannada-language film won the Best Film Audience Choice award after it premiered at the London Indian Film Festival in 2013. It was also notably shortlisted by the Film Federation of India (FFI) as India’s Best Foreign Language Film submission for the Academy Awards that year.
“Go Goa Gone” (2013)
Zombie film “Go Goa Gone” is about friends Hardik (Kunal Khemu), Luv (Vir Das) and Bunny (Anand Tiwari) looking to have a good time on a remote island in Goa, only to find that the island is infested with zombies.
What makes it scary: The menacing zombie horde constantly in pursuit of the lead actors in this horror comedy delivers more than enough blood, gore and guts to keep any zombie fan satisfied.
More reasons to watch: Having obtained a cult following among local zombie fans, a sequel titled “Go Goa Gone 2” has been in development and is reportedly set to be released sometime in 2023.
Supernatural horror film “Maya” is about a single mother named Apsara (Nayanthara) who, in desperate need of money, takes on the challenge of watching a horror film alone in a theater.
What makes it scary: The visuals and performances are so convincing that the electrifying atmosphere seeps out of the screen. You can’t hide behind pillows with this one.
More reasons to watch: Considered to be one of the best horror Tamil films, “Maya” received several local and international awards after it was first released in 2015.
“The House Next Door”/”Aval”(2017)
“The House Next Door” stars Siddharth and Andrea Jeremiah as a young married couple who encounter paranormal attacks after a family moves into a neighboring house.
What makes it scary: The film delivers just the right amount of jump scares and creepy imagery as a mysterious evil torments the couple and their neighbors.
More reasons to watch: Superb acting, striking visuals and a surprising twist at the end that many viewers may not see coming.
Set in Tumbbad, Maharashtra, in the 1900s, this period epic tells the story of a father named Vinayak Rao (Sohum Shah) and his son Pandurang (Mohammad Samad) who encounter the legendary evil entity Hastar in their quest to find a hidden treasure.
What makes it scary: The looming threat of evil is introduced at the onset and becomes more and more inevitable as the plot unravels.
More reasons to watch: Feast your eyes on visual artistry as the film is an imaginative spectacle that arguably trumps most Western horror.
“Ravening” is the story of a pediatrician named Nirmali (Lima Das) and a Ph.D. student named Sumon (Arghadeep Baruah) who form a special bond due to their mutual interest in trying out different types of meat.
What makes it scary: While the chemistry between first-time actors Das and Baruah will disarm audience members from the get-go, the film’s grotesque plot delivered in this deceptive “love story” will probably haunt viewers for weeks.
More reasons to watch: “Ravening” received stellar reviews after making its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2019, where it was nominated in five categories in the International Narrative section.