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Released: 2001
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Do you want to meet a ghost? Or rather, do you like your horror with a side of existential crisis? Is garden variety nihilism just too cheerful for your tastes? If the answer to any of these questions was yes, then Japanese horror has gifted you with a dark, unsettling gem that just may be up your alley.

Kairo was one of the most upsetting victims of the influx of American remakes of Japanese horror in the early 2000s. Some of these remakes got things right, or at least kept the spirit of the film intact (Dark Water is the best example of this), and some of them got things so very, very wrong. If you’ve seen the American remake of this film, Pulse, disregard everything you know about it.

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Stranger Things

Stranger Thingsstranger-things
Released: 2016
Creators: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer

It seems that for the past several weeks, the only words coming from anyone’s mouth, facebook feeds, or twitter updates had to do with the phenomenon known as Stranger Things. Part throwback to classic horror, and part love letter to the simple days of the 1980s, it’s easy to understand why people have become to enamored with it; it’s smart, self-aware, and wildly entertaining.

Stranger Things follows the events of a sleepy midwestern town in the early 80s, the supernatural peril it finds itself in, and how it all comes back around to the disappearance of a young boy named Will. The story branches out in how several characters relate to and experience this disappearance: Will’s family, Will’s close group of friends, and the town’s police chief, who is investigating the mysterious event. As this is happening, one of Will’s close friends, Mike, encounters a strange and frightened young girl who is much more than she appears.

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Noriko’s Dinner Table

Noriko’s Dinner TableNorikosTable
Released: 2006
Director: Sion Sono

Much has been said about Sion Sono’s masterful film Suicide Club and its biting social commentary on Japanese society. Less, however, has been said of its quiet follow-up film, Noriko’s Dinner Table. This is a shame – while it lacks the violent and shocking nature of the first film, its social critique may be perhaps even more severe and jarring than that of Suicide Club.

The story follows Noriko, an average girl who feels bored with her small town life, and craves the adventure and excitement of the city. She dreams of moving to Tokyo after finishing high school, but her father is strictly against this, alienating Noriko further and pushing her towards the company she finds on a mysterious website. Having found companionship with a girl who goes only by Ueno Station 54, Noriko decides to run away from home to join her. However, when she reaches her destination, her friend is not what she seems, and Noriko is brought into a world she did not expect.

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