Latin American Horror Films For Whoever is Brave Enough to Watch Them

Latin American Horror Films For Whoever is Brave Enough to Watch Them nuestro stories

Credit: Nuestro Stories

Horror. It has been there since the beginning of the cinema. The brothers Lumière gave birth to terror on the big screen through their revolutionary camera and projector, the Cinématographe, and the short film L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat (the arrival of the train) in 1896. The cinematographic train barreled toward an unsuspecting audience and caused fear and panic in the theater. Popular legend has it that the audience fled in terror. 

Then, just a few years after the initial filmmakers made their mark in the mid-1890s, short films such as The House of the Devil (1896) by French illusionist, actor, and film George Méliès, were considered the first scary film, although the first film that was officially called a terror film was Frankenstein, in 1910, by J. Searle Dawley for Edison Studios.  

However, today Latin American horror films are among the best in the world. 

Read more: The Most Terrifying Indigenous Legends of Latin America

The prominence of horror in Latin American films

When did Latin American terror films become a thing? 

If you grow up in a Latino home, you are familiar with terror; scaring children with stories about El Cuco – the boogeyman. Also, who doesn’t remember growing up and fearing chupacabra? Scary times.

The fascination with horror has led to a boom in Latin American horror films. 

So, find the ten highest-rated Latin American horror films below. Keep in mind that the list can be quite subjective; I encourage all to look at the full banquet of Latin American horror films. 

  • Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)
  • La Llorona (2019)
  • The Wolf House (2018)
  • The Devil's Backbone (2001)
  • Julia's Eyes (2010)
  • Rec (2007)
  • Timecrimes (2007)
  • Cronos (1993)
  • The Orphanage (2007)
  • The Untamed (2006)

Of all our countries, Argentina is one of the most prolific producers of horror films in Latin America. Filmmakers there took as their subgenre of horror the “gringos” — slasher and zombie films – and infused them with local culture. Argentine horror cinema was shackled by strict censorship laws – but thrived nonetheless. 

In this category, a special mention has to be given to the first creators, high school students Pablo Parés and Hernán Sáez. They authored the amateur film Plaga Zombie in 1997. The film was a smash and made people realize that you can film without massive budgets. From that film came the iconic Here Comes the Devil (Adrián García Bogliano), Luciferina (Gonzalo Calzada), and Aterrados/Terrified (Demián Rugna).

La Llorona continues to make waves in the horror genre

We must also talk about La Llorona, directed by Jayro Bustamante. This film took the legend a step further, fusing horror with real-life genocidal violence in Guatemala.

La Llorona is the story of a woman who kills her family and is seen night after night looking for her children, howling in pain, and seeking revenge on the waking world. 

Bustamante’s La Llorona is the story of a former dictator who tried the brutal genocide of native Mayans (based on real events from the '80s). He is also haunted by a weeping woman, the embodiment of all that he has sent to their death.

Horror is a component of the magical realism that is Latin America and this is why our filmmakers excel at it. 

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