best foreign movies and tv streaming

(Welcome to Pop Culture Imports, a column that compiles the best foreign movies and TV streaming right now.)

It’s the end of 2018 and it feels like it’s been 84 years. But at least we’ve been entertained by plenty of excellent foreign movies and TV shows in the process. As the year winds down and the holidays wrap up, here are a few more foreign movies and TV shows to catch before 2018 ends. This week we have the German answer to Hannibal in Netflix’s buzzy crime drama Perfume, a Danish horror film that more than recalls Rosemary’s Baby, a vampire anime from Netflix, a French-Belgium showcase for Mattias Schoenarerts, and a charming French rom-com series.

Turn on those subtitles and let’s get streaming.

Best Foreign Movies and TV Streaming Now

Perfume — Netflix

Country: Germany

Genre: Crime drama series

Creators: Oliver Berben, Sarah Kirkegaard

Cast: Friederike Becht, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Juergen Maurer, August Diehl, Ken Duken, Natalia Belitski, Christian Friedel.

Loosely based on a 1985 novel of the same name by Patrick Süskind, Perfume is a macabre murder mystery that proves Netflix is currently 4 for 4 on spectacular German imports. Following the likes of Dark and Babylon BerlinPerfume actually feels more like the German answer to Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, following a serial killer who cuts out the sweat glands of his victims. The six-part series takes inspiration from Süskind’s novel to tell the story of a detective (Friederike Becht) investigating the brutal murder of a beautiful singer who is found with her hair and sweat glands removed. She traces back the singer’s connection to a clique of boarding school kids who were obsessed with the tale of Grenouille — the murderer at the center of Süskind’s original novel — and thus were inspired to create a club for discovering smells. Gorgeously shot and meticulously paced, Perfume boasts a sprawling web of suspicious characters and haunting imagery that will soon have you sniffing around the internet for news on a second season.

Watch This If You Like: Hannibal, True Detective, Killing Eve, Mindhunter, eating (or smelling?) the rude.

Shelley – Hulu

Country: Denmark

Genre: Horror

Director: Ali Abbasi

Cast: Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Cosmina Stratan, Peter Christoffersen.

An atmospheric and eerie horror film with random smatterings of gore and body horror, Shelley is more unsettling than scary. But its atmosphere of unease sets this Danish film apart from the frequently trashy pregnancy horror category, offering a subdued story of a young Romanian woman named Elena (Cosmina Stratan) who arrives at the remote cabin of a wealthy Danish couple to work as their housekeeper. Enamored with the odd couple, Elena agrees to act as a surrogate to carry their child. But as the pregnancy progresses, Elena’s body deteriorates and she begins to be plagued by hallucinations and strange cravings,  and she becomes convinced that the baby she’s carrying will kill her. Shelley is no Rosemary’s Baby, but it is a chilling psychological thriller anchored by strong central performances from its two female leads (Stratan and Ellen Dorrit Petersen) that will carry you through to term.

Watch This If You LikeRosemary’s Baby, It’s Alive, Let the Right One In, anything but children.

Sirius the Jaeger — Netflix

Country: Japan

Genre: Anime action series

Director: Masahiro Ando

Cast: Yuto Uemura, Kenyu Horiuchi, Nanako Mori, Shunsuke Takeuchi, Yusuke Kobayashi.

I don’t throw around this comparison lightly, but Sirius the Jaeger has the potential to be the next Fullmetal Alchemist. The vampire anime is the latest original anime to come from Netflix and is an action-packed, impressively animated series that is one of the streaming service’s best yet. Set in an alternate 1930s where vampires roam the Earth and elite teams of colorfully clad warriors named Jaegers hunt them, Sirius the Jaeger focuses specifically on one Jaeger member, Yuliy, who is a type of werewolf called a Sirius. To keep his desire to harm humans at bay, he focuses his primal urges on hunting and killing vampires, a vocation he has picked up partly out of a desire for revenge as well. Meanwhile, as the Jaeger team hunts the elite group of vampires who hide behind a veil of wealth and privilege, the Japanese government investigates political uprisings that may be tied to a series of brutal deaths. Gothic and gorgeously animated, Sirius the Jaeger has likable characters and fun battle sequences as well as a pre-World War II historical setting of Japan that is surprisingly grounded. Maybe calling it the next Fullmetal Alchemist is hyperbolic, but it’s the most promising action anime to come from Netflix yet.

Watch This If You Like: Vampire Hunter D, Fullmetal Alchemist, vampires and anime — I mean, what’s not to love?

Disorder – Hulu

Country: France, Belgium

Genre: Drama thriller

Director: Alice Winocour

Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger.

Matthias Schoenaerts has made a career out of playing brooding bad boys — more specifically, bruised and tormented soldiers who nurse a warm beating heart beneath their bulging muscles. Disorder makes the most use of that typecast, presenting a good showcase for Schoenaerts even as its narrative loses steam halfway through. The French-Belgium film follows a soldier (Schoenaerts) with PTSD who moonlights as a security guard and is hired one day to protect the wife (Diane Kruger) and kid of a shady politician. The film is brimming with paranoia and slow-burning tension, but is sometimes frustratingly ambivalent even as it descends into a straightforward home invasion in the latter half. But Alice Winocour crafts an intimate and sexually charged psychological thriller that makes the best of Schoenaerts whole schtick.

Watch This If You Like: Watching literally anything with Matthias Schoenaerts in it.

The Hook Up Plan (Plan Coeur) — Netflix

Country: France

Genre: Romantic-comedy series

Creator: Chris Lang, Noémie Saglio

Cast: Zita Hanrot, Tom Dingler, Joséphine Drai.

Netflix is on a roll with its original romantic-comedies this year, and the French romantic-comedy series The Hook Up Plan is no exception. It’s relatable, raunchy, and funny — well as relatable as a story about an unlucky in love woman whose friends hire a male escort to seduce her and get her out of her funk. The problem: he starts to actually fall for her! The Hook Up Plan is chock full of entertaining characters and zippy writing, with hilariously adorable mishaps befalling the young millennial protagonists of this charming French series. It’s perfect to watch as you eat a box of chocolates alone on New Year’s Eve while drunkenly declaring that you don’t need a man.

Watch This If You Like: Pretty Woman, Sex and the City, the rom-com Renaissance!

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