Serial killers have long been considered an anomaly of Western civilization. For decades, countries aside from the United States refused to acknowledge the existence of these types of murderers in their homelands, but recent decades have shown a large number of films fixated on the subject. While the genre has been alive and well domestically, here is a list of the ten best international serial killer movies in honor of the release of CHILD 44 this weekend. See if your favorite serial killer movie not set in the United States made the list and, if not, add it to the talk backs below.
A great little Danish thriller starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, it was remade in 1997 as NIGHTWATCH starring Ewan McGregor and Josh Brolin. Both films follow a night guard at a morgue when odd killings begin, putting him as the prime suspect. Both versions are great and very underseen.
Tom Tykwer's adaptation of the novel PERFUME is definitely an underseen gem. Full of disturbing imagery and a breakout performance from Ben Whishaw, this is a movie that does not go in the direction you would imagine. Forced into the mind of a depraved individual who doesn't know how crazy he is, PERFUME has one hell of a final act.
Kim Jee-woon's serial killer movie takes the normal procedural aspect of the genre and flips it, turning I SAW THE DEVIL into a revenge film. Choi Min-sik (OLDBOY) plays a serial killer pursued by the husband of one of his victims. The resulting movie is a refreshing take on the genre that also maintains the hallmarks of a great psychological thriller.
Originally a three part television adaptation of David Peace's books, RED RIDING follows the Yorkshire Ripper case through the years 1974 to 1983. Part noir and part serial killer thriller, this is a powerful and uniquely structured film. All together, it plays like a five hour epic with an amazing cast that includes Mark Addy, Sean Bean, Andrew Garfield, Rebecca Hall, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, and Peter Mullan.
Whether it be the 1997 original or the 2007 English remake, FUNNY GAMES is a f*cked up film. While the killers, Paul and Peter, are only shown tormenting a single family, the dialogue through the film reveals this is not the first time they have done this. Michael Haneke directed both versions of the movie which are almost mirrors of one another and equally disturbing.
When you have Alfonso Cuaron and Guillermo Del Toro as your producers, you better deliver a solid film. Sebastián Cordero does that and more in this Ecuadorian thriller that follows John Leguizamo as a Miami reporter investigating a series of child rapes and murders. Haunting and very unsettling, CRONICAS gives us a glimpse at violent crime in a part of the world many of us are not familiar with.
South Korean cinema has unleashed a ton of violent crime films over the last couple of decades, but this true crime inspired film from SNOWPIERCER director Bong Joon-ho could be the funniest. While not a comedy, this has some definite black humor as it retells the story of South Korea's first serial killer. While the killer was never caught, the film presents a disturbing narrative as to what a police force unfamiliar with serial murderers had to do to combat the evil that men do.
Fritz Lang's 1931 classic M has been a benchmark for dozens of films since it was released. Starring the great Peter Lorre, M encapsulates the paranoia that can pervade a group of people, especially parents who are protecting their children from a monster. The iconic image of a chalk-print M on Lorre's back has become a classic in movie history.
This 1992 mockumentary from Belgium purports to follow a film crew chronicling the life of an actual serial killer. Disturbing subject matter on it's own, the film soon incorporates the film crew (and the audience) in the murders, making this feel more like a snuff film that a narrative movie. It is powerful and lasting and a movie you have to see to believe. Not for the weak of heart.
While this was an HBO original movie, CITIZEN X rivals any other movie in the genre. Following the investigation and arrest of Andrei Chikatilo in Soviet-era Russia, CITIZEN X shows how the Communist Party in the USSR suppressed and prevented the investigation from being handled appropriately, citing serial killers as a "decadent Western phenomenon". Stephen Rea plays the investigator to is pushed to the limit by his superiors. The rest of the cast is stellar and features Donald Sutherland, Max Von Sydow, and Jeffrey DeMunn as Chikatilo. Very similar in plot to CHILD 44, this is a movie you have got to see.