Before the modern internet, discovering foreign films, let alone foreign horror films, proved challenging. Today, we have Shudder, a horror-dedicated streaming service. But Netflix pioneered streaming TV and movies, democratizing access to a plethora of films—for better and worse. As Netflix looks to continue growing amid new competition from Disney and an ever-increasing list of others eager to topple the streaming king, its push into foreign markets could make the service the go-to place for fresh foreign horror content.
Netflix spends billions every year producing its own content and distributing others’. Earlier this month, Netflix opened a new office in Paris, expanding its operations there as it plans to produce 20 original French-language productions this year alone. Now, we’re not getting 20 horror productions, but as Netflix looks to expand worldwide, it opens up avenues for horror TV shows and movies to reach an international audience.
We’ve already seen a few of these shows hit the service – Marianne, Black Spot, and Ares, to name a few – and as the company looks to continue expanding outside the U.S., that can only mean more similar shows in the future. Netflix is available in over 190 countries, and as the service reaches market saturation in the U.S., it’ll need to find new, foreign audiences to entice. And doing that requires original, local content—which hopefully will be available to both international and U.S. audiences.
Much like how the internet broke down physical barriers between people and cultures, Netflix and others are breaking down cinematic barriers, offering a broad sampling of movies—horror and otherwise—to new viewers around the world. This could be a massive win for horror fans who are eager for new voices, new ideas, and new scares. Yes, Netflix will be competing with Shudder, though any competition should return huge benefits for the consumers.
When Netflix announced its new Paris office, it also announced the proposed productions, including Vampires, where a half-human, half-vampire teen grapples with her new powers while being pursued by a secret vampire community. The straight-forward premise feels familiar, but who doesn’t want a teen vampire show shot through a French lens? Or Romanian? Or Nigerian?
While there’s potential for great things—we can dream, right?—this is Netflix, and there are caveats, though they’re not unique to the streaming giant. The service has a history of canceling shows in their infancy as it burns through cash, trying to find the next piece of content that hits with audiences. We could get a litany of half-starts of great ideas that never have the time to gestate into great shows, and we’ve already seen such consequences.
Marianne, which only had one season, wasn’t renewed by Netflix, and that could be an issue going forward. If Netflix isn’t smart, any goodwill it builds with the rabid horror community could quickly disappear if Netflix cancels well-liked shows. Netflix has done so in the past, though we don’t know their viewership numbers. Netflix is a business, and it’s all about numbers—viewers, production costs, and business expenditures. It’s costly.
There’s the potential for Netflix to deliver excellent, engaging horror TV shows and movies going forward. Netflix will want to cast a wide content net, dabbling in a plethora of movie genres. Terror transcends cultures, and fear is universal—now let’s tell those stories. We have our fingers crossed that we’ll soon get excellent new horror content from around the world.
And if not, there’s always Shudder.