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Top 25 Best Japanese Horror Movies That Will Give You Chills

Experience the spine-chilling delights of Japanese horror and thriller movies with this handpicked selection of the best titles. Japanese cinema has consistently pushed the boundaries of the horror genre, resulting in enduring classics that have even been remade for Western audiences, such as “Ringu” (remade as “The Ring”) and “Dark Water.”

Get ready to embark on a thrilling journey as we present to you a list of the top Japanese horror movies. Don’t hesitate any longer – dim the lights, and let the hair-raising thrills and bone-chilling sensations captivate you!

Best Japanese Horror Movies List –

1. Ju-on: The Grudge 

This movie is about a horrifying murder that leaves its mark on a house and even influences the successors of the house. Although the third movie in Ju On series, this was the first amongst the three that was released theatrically. This movie did so well that it was remade in America in 2004 and was named as ‘The Grudge’. This remake was also directed by Takashi Shimizu and it went on to receive the same popularity and fame the original movie got.

Year: 2002

Director: Takashi Shimizu

IMDb: 6.7/10

Watch The Grudge trailer:

2. Ringu 

A creepy psychological movie, Ringu traces the story of a television reporter who is a single mother. The plot of this story is about how everyone that watches a VHS tape dies within a week. This movie also got an English Language remake in 2002, known as ‘Samara’. This is one of those fascinating movies that can manage to haunt you even after you leave the theaters.

Year: 1998

Director: Hideo Nakata

IMDb: 7.2/10

Watch Ringu trailer:

3. Suicide Circle 

Written and directed by Sion Sono, Suicide Circle is a Japanese Horror film that explores a wave of suicides that suddenly hits Japan. Kuroda, a detective, is intrigued and sets out to solve the mystery behind these suicides. The film was appreciated for its complex plot comprising of gruesome scenes and gory presentation. The opening scene that ends with a horrifying mass suicide is still, one of the most iconic horror scenes in the best Japanese horror movies industry.

Year: 2001

Director: Sion Sono

IMDb: 6.6/10

Watch Suicide Club trailer :

4. Dark Water

Remade in Hollywood in 2005 with the same name, Dark Water traces the story of a woman named Yoshimi who is going through a divorce and is thus, compelled to move to a new apartment with her daughter. There is a leak in one of the ceilings that is worsening every day. And when Yoshimi gets help from no one, she goes to the apartment upstairs only to find it locked. A series of strange things start happening and when finally her daughter goes missing, making things even more scarier.

Year: 2002

Director: Hideo Nakata

IMDb: 6.7/10

Watch Dark Water trailer :

5. Kairo or Pulse

Also known as Pulse, Kairo is a horror film directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa in 2001. This film explores two story lines where vicious spirits can enter our world through the internet. Although presenting a very unique story, this movie managed to gain both commercial and critical acclaim. The movie was later also remade in Hollywood in 2006.

Year: 2001

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

IMDb: 6.5

Watch Kairo trailer :

6. Audition

Based on a novel by Ryu Murakami, Audition is a horror film released in 1999. It explores the life of Shigharu, who is a lonely widower. His son thinks that Shigharu should find a new love. So, Shigharu stages a fake audition in order to find a new wife. Things go as planned as Shigharu finds Asami and falls in love with her. But soon, you realize Asami has other intentions. Directed by Takashi Miike, this movie is seriously disturbing and a treat for all the hardcore horror movie lovers.

Year: 1999

Director: Takashi Miike

IMDb: 7.2/10

Watch Audition trailer :

7. One Missed Call 

Another brilliant horror movie by Takashi Miike, ‘One Missed Call’ is an adaptation of a novel by Yasushi Akimoto. People start receiving voice messages from themselves from a future date. Basically, it’s their future selves sending them voice messages. What’s even scarier is that these messages contain exact details like the date and time when they will die. This movie was a major box office success in Japan and managed to gain the appreciation of a lot of critics as well.

Year: 2003

Director: Takashi Miike

IMDb: 6.2/10

Watch One Missed Call trailer :

8. Kwaidan 

An anthology of four Japanese folk tales with supernatural themes, Kwaidan was released way back in 1964.  ‘Black Hair’, ‘The Woman in the Snow’, ‘Hoichi the Earless’  and ‘In a Cup of Tea” are the stories that are presented in this film. After getting a lot of critical acclamation, this movie also went on to bag an academy award nomination. With gripping storylines and realistic characters, this is surely one of the best horror anthology films ever made.

Year: 1964

Director: Masaki Kobayashi

IMDb: 8.0/10

Watch Kwaidan trailer :

9. Onibaba 

Set in Feudal Japan, this movie traces the story of two women that kill Samurais and steal their belongings. Directed by Kaneto Shindo, this movie talks about survival and how the two women sell the killed Samurais’ armor in order to earn their livelihood. And while all is going well, one of the women gets romantically involved with a man. This threatens the other woman and so she dons a demonic mask in order to scare the other woman. Released in 1964, this is surely one of the great horror movies made in Japan.

Year: 1964

Director: Kaneto Shindo

IMDb: 8.0/10

Watch Onibaba trailer :

10. House 

This cult classic that has been a favorite amongst fans for many years now, had actually failed terribly at the box office. However, with time, it has managed to gain a cult status and fans have appreciated the film’s stylized looks. The film traces the story of a girl who visits her ill aunt’s house and also brings along six of her classmates. Once there, strange things start happening as the ‘house’ starts taking the girls one after another.

Year: 1977

Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi

IMDb: 7.4/10

Watch House trailer :

11. Jigoku or The Sinners of Hell

This horror movie is different from other Japanese horror films of the era such as Kwaidan and Onibaba. It has taken the status of a cult classic. The story is about a young Tokyo theology student, Shiro, who is planning for his marriage. And one unfortunate day, his perturbed colleague Tamura offers him a ride home. On the way, Tamura hits and kills the drunken gang leader, Kyoichi, and shrugs off the situation when Shiro wants to stop and report the accident to the police. The story further follows the revenge of Kyoichi’s death by his mother and girlfriend.

Year: 1960

Director: Nobuo Nakagawa

IMDb: 6.8/10

Watch Jigoku trailer :

12. Tetsuo, the Iron Man 

Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, this is a really gruesome and grisly film. The story starts with a metal fetishist, who is putting a steel rod inside his leg. And soon after he hits the road, he is met with an accident as a car comes and hits him. ‘Man’ and his girlfriend ‘Woman’ in the car, try to cover this up but the metal fetishist somehow still manages to take revenge. The film is known for its extremely creepy and gory representation that is sure to send shivers down your spine.

Year: 1989

Director: Shin’ya Tsukamoto

IMDb: 7.0/10

Watch Tetsuo trailer :

13. Ichi the Killer 

Based on the famous manga series by Hideo Yamamoto, this 2001 horror movie is another gem by Takashi Miike. The film is definitely not for the faint-hearted, with its gruesome scenes of violence and cruelty. The story talks about two opposing gangs and a man named Ichi, who is caught up between the two gangs. And despite its violent and graphic representation, it managed to gain a cult status which is why it is one of the most famous horror Japanese movies.

Year: 2001

Director: Takashi Miike

IMDb: 7.0/10

Watch Ichi the Killer trailer :

14. Reincarnation 

After bagging a role in a horror film about a real-life murder spree that took place in a Tokyo hotel in 1970, the actress begins having weird and scary visions. The killer was a professor who had slaughtered hotel guests, employees as well as his wife. Released in 2005, this movie comprises all the elements essential for a great horror film and thus, it went on to become a great box office hit.

Year: 2005

Director: Takashi Shimizu

IMDb: 6.2/10

Watch Reincarnation trailer :

15. Over Your Dead Body 

This visually stunning movie directed by Takashi Miike traces a theatre group that is rehearsing for a play that is actually an adaptation of an old Japanese play. A real-life couple is also the playing as a couple in the play. And while the play talks about betrayal and murder, gradually even their real life starts to reflect the play. As the line between fiction and reality starts to blur, you are confused as to what is real and what is a part of the play.

16. Noroi: The Curse 

Directed by Koji Shiraishi,  this 2005 horror film explores the life of a paranormal investigator named Masafumi. And while Masafumi is making a documentary about another mysterious case, he suddenly goes missing and even his house is burned down. This movie is known for its long runtime that is very rarely seen with Japanese horror movies. With a great plot and even better execution, this movie manages to keep you on the edge of your seats till the very end.

Year: 2005

Director: Koji Shiraishi

IMDb: 7.0/10

Watch Noroi trailer :

17. Marebito 

This movie talks about a man who is obsessed with fear and loves videotaping fear. The birth of this obsession is shown in one of the earlier scenes when he watches a man kill himself by stabbing himself in the eye. Later, he discovers an alternate dimension below Tokyo and brings back a mysterious naked girl he meets there. Directed by Takashi Shimizu, this fascinating is something you cannot afford to miss.

Year; 2004

Director: Takashi Shimizu

IMDb: 6.1/10

Watch Marebito trailer :

18. Battle Royale 

Based on the novel by Koushun Takami, this movie was released in 2000 and is also considered to be the inspiration behind ‘The Hunger Games’.  Here, the junior high school students are compelled to participate in a death-match competition by the Japanese government. And the one who wins and survives is allowed to leave. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, manages to creep you out with its gory and cruel presentation.

Year: 2000

Director: Kinji Fukasaku

IMDb: 7.6/10

Watch Battle Royale trailer :

19. Spiral 

This horror movie features one of Junji Ito’s famous Manga stories. The movie is divided into 4 different parts with the main plot following a girl who notices her town going crazy with people either getting obsessed with spirals or turning into snails. The girl along with her boyfriend sets out to solve this insane mystery. Directed by Akihiro Higuchi, this movie is known for its surreal and gruesome screenplay.

Year: 2000

Director: Higuchinsky

IMDb: 6.2/10

Watch Spiral trailer :

20. Exte: Hair Extensions 

Written and directed by Sion Sono, this film explores the life of an aspiring hairdresser. A hair fetishist who is selling hair extensions to salons starts stalking the wannabe hairdresser. All is going well until you realize that the hair is coming from a dead girl who does not decompose and whose hair keeps on growing continuously. And those who wear those extensions either get killed or go insanely crazy.

Year: 2007

Director: Sini Sono

IMDb: 6.3/10

Watch Exte trailer :

21. Kuroneko 

Another Kaneto Shindo movie set in Feudal Japan, this movie is one of the classics of the Japanese film industry. The story talks about the lives of two women who are raped and murdered by Samurai warriors. The women come back as ghosts to haunt the guilty soldiers and to take revenge. Released way back in 1968, this is one of the earlier Japnese horror films that managed to instill fear in the minds of people.

Year: 1968

Director: Kaneto Shindo

IMDb: 7.7/10

Watch Kuroneko trailer : 

22. Premonition or Yogen

The title itself is a bit mysterious and the movie confirms it further. Yogen is based on the manga Kyoufu Shinbun by Jiro Tsunoda. A high school teacher, Hideki Satomi is driving home along with his family. Hideki stops his car on mid-way for some file uploading on a phone-booth where he finds a newspaper in which his daughter’s death is mentioned from a car crash just a minute later and when his wife steps outside to help him, suddenly a truck smashes their car. This is an exceptional horror film and a mind game with some titch of psychology.

Year:  2004

Director: Norio Tsuruta

IMDb: 6.2/10

Watch Premonition or Yogen trailer :

23. Death Note

Death Note is a supernatural thrilling film it has its sequel, Death Note 2: The last name, released in the same year.The movies are based on the manga series of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata as the same title.

The film is about a college student who founds a book where who evers name is written in the pages, will be hunted down and with this book he tries to change the world into no crime society by creating the annihilation of criminals whom he feels has no morals to live their lives thus creating a havoc in the town a law enforcement detective is hired to solve the case. This movie has a great mystery and thrilling parts which increases by the every part of the series preceding.

Year : 2006

Director : Shusuke Kaneko

IMDb : 7.7/10

Watch Death Note trailer :

24. Sadako vs Kayako

Sadako vs Kayako is a supernatural horrific film. It is the fiction crossover of the Ring and Ju-on series.The movie story is after seeing a cursed video tape , Natsumi is going to be killed within 2 days by a demon and she wants to live so she strategize and hopes it should work by pitting Sadako against Kayako, a threatening spirit that lives in a haunted house.

Year : 2016

Director : KōjiShiraishi

IMDb : 5.1/10

Watch Sadako vs Kayako trailer :

25. The Legend & Butterfly

The story of a man and a woman that extends over 30 years in the Warring State period.

Year : 2023

Director : Keishi Otomo

IMDb : 6.2/10

Watch The Legend & Butterfly trailer :

We hope these top Japanese horror movies were scary enough to give you sleepless nights.

Your Turn!

Which is your favorite new Japanese horror movies? Let us know in the comments.

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Devendra March 6, 2018 at 1:44 am

Interesting and added the list – Thank you for nice info.

Vaibhav June 23, 2018 at 2:25 am

Thanks Devendra. Stay tuned with us for more such posts.

Renee April 6, 2020 at 11:41 pm

These look absolutely terrifying!

Wendy April 7, 2020 at 1:01 am

This is a great list! They are terrifying! I will have to check them out!

Stefanie Kasal April 7, 2020 at 1:51 am

Awesome list.. I have been looking for “new” horror movies to watch.
Thank you for sharing!

Love April 7, 2020 at 4:49 am

Lol I would never watch ANY horror movie alone & this is definitely a spooky list! 🙃

mariah green April 7, 2020 at 10:17 am

all of these look terrifying, i’m interested lol

blair villanueva April 7, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Japanese horror movies are the best! Those Hollywood horror movies turned to be trash #realtalk.

Megan April 7, 2020 at 8:19 pm

EEk these all look a little too scary for me! Will have to check out during the day haha.

Marjie Mare April 8, 2020 at 8:45 am

I am sure my kids will enjoy them. I am not a fan of a horror movies. My fourteen year old can take them but not me.

Life Mag April 8, 2020 at 12:50 pm

Great list! However, it’s The Grudge which I’ve only watched, And it’s the scariest!!! Oh goodness, those chills to the bones. Even if they make different versions of it, American etcetera, the Japanese (original) version is still the scariest!!

Chirpybrains April 8, 2020 at 4:29 pm

Well, to be honest, m not a big fan of horror movies anyways!!

Ella April 8, 2020 at 9:48 pm

Oh my word, definitely couldn’t watch any of these!! I’m terrible when it comes to horror movies!

Harish April 9, 2020 at 11:48 pm

Why you said that? Now I am more interested in watching them alone & surely do😂

Btw awesome list!

Crickette, The Things I Have to Say April 10, 2020 at 12:06 pm

I can’t believe I’ve only seen 5 of these movies. I haven’t even heard of the others. I think Ill check them out.

Bindu Thomas April 10, 2020 at 6:52 pm

Awesome list. All of these look terrifying, I’m not a big fan of horror movies anyways!!

Suanlian Tangpua April 11, 2020 at 2:34 pm

Great list! Thanks for the share…perfect timing to watch while on quarantine. Can you also suggest some Thai Horror movie?


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