Tired of having only Andrei Tarkovsky in your mind after someone mentions Russian cinematography?
You also like horror movies, and want to know what are the best horror films that Russian cinema has to offer?
Well, look no further, cause you are at the right place!
I am going to tell you all about the best Russian horror films (many of them are not family-friendly) that you should watch.
Through watching these horror movies you will not only get the frights of your life, but you will also get to learn more about Russian history and culture (and we all know horror is all about learning, right?)
Fans of horror, you are in for a treat, so get ready to hear all about Russian movies that were specifically made to be watched at the dead of night (HORROR, ooooh, the horror!).
List Of The Best Russian Horror Films
1. Mister Designer
Mister Designer is a Soviet-era horror film, released in 1987. This Russian horror was directed by Oleg Teptsov and was based on a short story written by Alexander Grin.
The film follows the story of a famous artist and his ultimate desire to discover the secrets of eternal life.
Platon Andreevich strives to reach perfection through his work on wax statutes while challenging God (in a sense), and his creation of men (and women) as imperfect beings susceptible to the passage of time.
As one of the best horror movies of its generation, Mister Designer holds a special place on this list (as the first film on it) and in the hearts of many horror lovers (Russian or otherwise).
IMDB score: 7.1/10
2. Dead Daughters
Written and directed by Pavel Ruminov, and released in 2007, this completely off the hook Russian arthaus horror film, centers around the ghosts of three little girls that were murdered by their insane mother.
Ghosts randomly choose people to follow and observe during the period of three days. If the person’s moral compass is not to their liking, Dead Daughters, then use their telekinetic powers to murder that person.
This is one of those low-budget arthouse horror movies, so it might not be for everyone (It is for me, and that’s why it’s on the list).
But, if you are looking for complete insanity, great visuals and horror, this Russian movie would be the perfect one to watch (at night, alone, because you sir or mam are BADASS).
IMDB score: 4.0/10
3. Viy (1967)
Made during the Soviet Union era, Viy (1967), quickly became one of the most popular Russian horror movies. Konstantin Yershov and Georgi Kropachyov were both credited as directors of this film.
Viy is based upon a short story (of the same title) written by Nikolai Gogol. Filled with moments from Russian history and culture, this movie is considered to be the first horror movie ever to be released in the Soviet Union.
A young priest, by the name of Khoma Brutus, has to spend three days in an old cabin with the corpse of a witch.
Viy has all the tropes of a great horror film (a cabin, a corpse, a witch) and is probably one of the best Russian movies of this genre (if not the best), so it’s really easy to include it in this list of the best horror films.
IMDB score: 7.4/10
One of the last (if not the last) horror movies made in the Soviet Union.
Directed and written by Vladimir Bragin, this comedy horror film might not have gotten all the praise it deserved, at the time of its release.
Funny and scary, with exaggerated acting, this movie is a great way to pass a Saturday afternoon.
The story follows a werewolf and his incorrigible desire to kill people. This movie is the director’s way of retelling the old classic – Little Red Riding Hood (but only with horror, thriller, and death).
The movie is available to watch with English subtitles.
IMDB score: 5.8/10
5. Night Watch
A Russian thriller movie (and horror), directed by Timur Bekmambetov and based upon a 1988 novel The Night Watch (written by Sergei Lukyanenko).
Night Watch follows the battle between the forces of Light and Dark that has been ongoing since medieval times.
The main character, Anton, discovers that he is the prophesied “Other” and that he has the ability to end the stalemate between the warring factions.
The plot takes place in modern-day Russia, in the city of Moscow.
The critics gave this movie mixed reviews. In spite of that, the film did pretty well earning wise, making over 12 million dollars in home video rentals (yeah, that’s what people did to watch movies in 2004, kinda scary?).
IMDB score: 6.4/10
6. Day Of Wrath
Day Of Wrath, is a Russian language adventure horror film released during the Soviet Union era (1988 to be precise).
Directed by Sulambek Mamilov (try to say that 3 times!), the plot follows a TV-journalist and his investigation of the mysterious mountainous range in the USA. People getting lost, strange events, and much more is discovered during his search of the fabled region.
There are bear-people, genetic science labs, and scary forests to see while watching this Russian film, and that is precisely the reason, this is one of the movies that made it onto the list.
IMDB score: 6.2/10
7. Forbidden Kingdom (remake of the movie Viy)
This Russian film (like the movie from 1967) was based upon the writings of Nikolai Gogol. Viy (as the film is known in Russia) started its production in 2005. Because of the lack of funding the film was completed 7 years later, in 2012.
In Russia, this film was a huge commercial success, breaking the record for the opening weekend, previously set in Russian cinema.
Directed by Oleg Stepchenko, this Russian film revolves around an 18th-century cartographer called Jonathan Green and his travel from Western Europe to the East.
He manages to land himself in this place called Transylvania (first time hearing that name, who is Dracula?).
A small village in the middle of the woods and a group of strange (i mean really strange) villagers, make this film a must-watch for any horror fan out there!
Even though the film was not critically acclaimed it still managed to find its way onto the list, because of its popularity in Russia and overall quality of the cinematography, characters, and setting.
IMDB score: 5.2/10
8. The Bride
The Bride is a Russian horror film released in 2017. The film was directed and written by Svyatoslav Podgaevskiy (I feel like I had a stroke just by writing this name, good luck pronouncing it!).
This is one of those films that are completely insane (but in the best way possible). There’s a character named Ivan (of course there is), and his family has some dirty secrets that we, as the audience, discover during the course of the movie.
The film, set in the eighteen-hundreds is strangely filled with moments, where we get to experience and learn more about Russian history and culture.
Maybe not the best on this list, but certainly worth your time (if you are a fan of the genre)!
IMDB score: 4.6/10
This is a Russian slasher film directed by Vadim Shmelyov and released in 2008. Five young men and girls are cast for a new reality TV show. I said before that the movie is a slasher, so you can guess what happens next.
This title is not a breathtaking piece of cinema, but it’s fun and gory, and that is why it’s on the list.
IMDB score: 5.2/10
10. Mermaid: The Lake of the Dead
This 2017 horror movie is 100% not family-friendly.
Marina is in search of a cure for a curse that afflicted her young lover. Will she be able to save his life or will he perish in agony? You should watch this Russian language movie in order to find out!
Best to see it with the lights off, to get the full horror experience.
IMDB score: 4.4/10
Directed and written by Pyotr Melnikov, this short horror movie follows the protagonist Nick and his growing paranoia, as his girlfriend is sleep-talking about a gruesome murder.
Released in 2020 and with a low, low-budget of only 1000 dollars, this film is what you would call short and sweet (if you are a horror fan).
If you are not a fan of horror films, you are looking at the wrong list my friend, and you should go back to liking cat videos on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever you go to do that.
IMDB score: 6.4/10
Directed by Alexander Strizhenov, the film follows a university professor as he moves with his family from the big city to a small town.
He starts working in a girl’s gymnasium and that’s when all the creepy stuff starts happening.
It’s one of those movies that enforces the notion of how scary children with make-up can be.
IMDB score: 5.0/10
13. Queen Of Spades: Through the Looking Glass (2019)
The second part of the Russian horror movies franchise follows (once again) the sinister ghost of the Queen of Spades as she spends her time hunting down boarding school pupils.
And, probably the best part, is, that all of this is happening in a spooky, old mansion (my favorite horror cliche).
This Russian language horror film is directed by Alexandr Domogarov and was released in 2019. Popular in Russia, this film wasn’t a box office hit, but it’s still worth your time.
It’s on the list of best Russian horror movies, that should mean something, right?.
IMDB score: 5.0/10
14. Prizrak Iz Khovrino
Directed by Kirill Khrestinin, this Russian film is centered around a group of friends who decided to spend some time in a spooky, scary forest with a lot of bad history behind it (I love premises in horror movies).
Why did they decide to do that? Well, only God knows. God and a bunch of evil Russian sorcerers that used to sacrifice people in that forest. A lot of great and scary moments make this horror film a must watch.
There’s only a couple of horror movies left, so just keep scrolling (and reading, of course).
IMDB score: 6.0/10
15. The Source Of Snakes
The director and writer of this movie was Nikolay Lebedev. This Russian thriller (and horror) movie centers around a young girl who is a student at the Pedagogical Institute.
A serial killer is on the loose murdering women, and all of his targets are eerily similar to our main protagonist, Dima.
Released in 1997, this movie is beloved by many fans of this genre (the genre in question is horror, in case you skipped the whole list and ended up on this particular sentence).
IMDB score: 6.8/10
Sputnik, a science fiction horror released in 2020, is an amazing new addition to the genre of horror movies.
The only survivor from a failed space mission comes back home with something hiding inside of his body. What is it, you might ask?
It’s a pure, unadulterated horror movie – fun, plain and simple. 2020 hasn’t seen a lot of new releases, making this movie even more precious than it already is.
Directed by Egor Abramenko as his debut in the world of full-length movies (before this film he only directed short films). This film is fun, suspenseful, with many new ideas that were brilliantly implemented by the director.
Easily one of the best movies on this list, and at the same time, one of the best horror movies made this year (Russian or otherwise).
IMDB score: 6.8/10
17. Devil’s Pass
This co-production, Russian-English film was directed by Renny Harlin and was released in 2013.
It was shot in the style of the found footage movies and depicts a number of students (of course they are students because this is a horror movie) as they search to unravel the truth about the mysterious events that happened at the Devil’s Pass.
The event that led them to their investigation was an actual real-life event in which nine Russian hikers were found dead.
If you like horror movies (and found footage movies), this film is a must watch! I personally do (hence the addition of this movie onto the list).
IMDB score: 5.7/10
18. Savage Hunt of King Stakh
Alas, we have come to the last Russian film on this list (it’s a list of horror movies, haven’t you been paying attention?). You’ve managed to get this far, so why stop now? There is still a little bit more to read, about the best horror movies from Russia.
This Soviet-era film was directed by Valeri Rubinchik and was released in 1980.
A young ethnographer has come to the Belorussian woodlands in order to research local myths and legends. With its weird tone and mood, set by the director, this film oozes horror from start to finish.
It’s hard to get movies that were filmed during the Soviet Union era, but if you somehow manage to get your hands on this film, watch it, you won’t regret it.
The Bottom Line
Finally, you did it! We’ve talked about the best horror movies the Russian cinema has to offer, and I certainly hope that you were not disappointed.