The German Horror Film That's Taking Netflix's Top 10 By Storm

Fans of weird and eerie German movies, rejoice! Your Halloween spooky viewing has arrived, and it's carved out a steady spot in Netflix's Top 10 trending watches. "Old People" is German-Romanian filmmaker Andy Fetscher's horror thriller wherein the old eat the young, bludgeon them, and sometimes vomit on them. It's the sort of concept that M. Night Shyamalan would have a field day with (and did, with "The Visit"), but Fetscher adds more chaos and a cadre of monsters at the door.

A title card at the opening reads:

In times of yore, an avenging spirit was thought to inhabit old people. A dark power that took possession of the frailest members of the clan and drive them into a seemingly blind rage.

That's right – this is functionally an elderly rage-zombie movie. What a time to be alive.


At its core, the story focuses on generational disconnect by observing lonely elders, excluded from local festivities, going feral from FOMO. Ella (Melika Foroutan) returns to her remote hometown with her two children for her sister's wedding. Despite the lack of invitations (and it's assumed that no +1's are allowed, either), a gaggle of older nursing home residents hear the reception revelry and decide to grab some weapons and crash the party anyway, racking up a few bodies in the process. What follows upon their arrival is post-wedding mayhem, a free-for-all that rivals the zombie wedding massacre of Paco Plaza's "[REC]3: Genesis" (which is hard to beat; that one has a chainsaw involved). To paraphrase Roddy Piper, the geezers came to chew bubble gum and kill youths, and they're all out of bubble gum.

Respect your elders...or else

The movie is so conceptually wild that it confirms how good horror fans have it these days — there was a time when folks would have to search every nerdy nook and cranny to find a movie wherein a neglected grandfather bludgeons a bride and groom on their wedding night. It's part of a wave of elderly repulsion that's shown up in a few horror movies of late; elderly bodies, often presented as grotesque in some way, have wreaked havoc in Ari Aster's "Hereditary" and "Midsommar," Natalie Erika James' "Relic," and "Anything For Jackson," all the way up to the unhinged, pitchfork-wielding Pearl in Ti West's "X."

"Old People" isn't Fetscher's first feature; the Munich-born filmmaker graduated from the German Film Academy in Ludwigsburg with thesis film "Bukarest Fleisch," a TV horror movie that appears to feature cannibalism, perhaps an Eastern-European iteration of "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." In 2011, Fetscher's "Urban Explorer," a.k.a "The Depraved," arrived to watch young folks enter spaces they've got no business being in and suffer the consequences – this time in subterranean Berlin catacombs formerly used by the Nazis. The movie stars Nathalie Kelley and Nick Eversman as leaders of the doomed trespassing expedition and like most of his work so far, Fetscher earned multiple credits as cinematographer and editor as well as directing Martin Thau's screenplay. Check out the trailer here:

"Urban Explorer" fits snugly into the sort of high-octane category where "Hostel" and "The Hills Have Eyes," and the movie earned a handful of trophies upon its run at Screamfest in Los Angeles including Best Picture – an award previously held by the unapologetically foul Tom Six feature "The Human Centipede (First Sequence)" in 2009 and Kim Jee-woon's "A Tale of Two Sisters" in 2003.

Monster mashes and graveyard smashes

Netflix has attracted some static — now viewers will be able to pay to watch commercials before and during their streaming in an affordable "ad-supported" version of the service. But one thing the streaming giant has gotten right is its robust selection of horror movies; crucial in October, to be sure, but subscribers can find big studio fare and rediscovered indie features, and plenty of horizon-expanding foreign horror.

"Old People" is just a taste; for more German scares, look to vampires on a plane thriller "Blood Red Sky" on Netflix, featuring Alexander Scheer's sneering turn as a loose-cannon terrorist named 8-Ball (think John Malkovich as Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom in "Con Air").

Moving over to France, the French-Belgian horror comedy "Girls With Balls" pits a women's volleyball team against mountain people who want to play the Most Dangerous Game, with cartoonish gore and plenty of arterial spray to paint the town red. "The Swarm" is another recent French-language gem, slower-burning than "Girls With Balls" but based on another incredible premise — bloodsucking bugs.

There's enough Asian horror to go around for those looking for more supernatural spooks; highlights include Timo Tjahjanto's 2018 Satanic horror shriekfest "May the Devil Take You," which has since gotten a sequel and remains a highlight of the Indonesian horror genre. South Korea's greatest entry on Netflix is "Kingdom," a visual feast of a political period-horror series that puts "The Walking Dead" to shame — "House of Cards," but with zombies. 

Finally, the crown gem of Netflix's non-English speaking horror section is "Incantation," Kevin So's Taiwanese found-footage horror which arrived on streaming this summer. What sets it apart from its brethren is its early and strong insistence upon audience participation, immersing everyone in its well-intentioned curse from the first lines.

Happy viewing and remember — lights out, sound up!