There is just something that gives people the chills when it comes to Asian horror films.
Although there have been Western flicks that scare the bejesus out of us (read: The Conjuring, The Exorcist and It), admittedly there is nothing quite like watching an Asian horror movie.
Director Osman Ali theorises that even though Asians are modern, our societies still hold on to beliefs in mystical elements.
“Our cultural and traditional beliefs in the supernatural are still present in our communities today.
"Some of us have had supernatural experiences, while others love listening to and watching horror stories because we are curious about ghosts and such,” says Osman, who is about to release his second supernatural film Langsuir (Sept 20), after Puaka Tebing Biru (2007).
And though this bodes well for the horror movie industry in general, it has also resulted in a glut of sorts.
At one point, Japanese and Thai filmmakers were churning out more horror films than audiences were able to consume.
The more memorable movies to date were, of course, The Ring, Ju-on and Dark Water from Japan, while Thailand gave us the excellent The Eye and Shutter.
While the market does get saturated with the carbon copies of tried and tested formulas, once in a while an original gem does come along like last year’s Pengabdi Setan from Joko Anwar (Indonesia), a remake of the 1982 classic by Sisworo Gautama Putra.
A reason why Pengabdi Setan resonated with moviegoers was simply because it had a good storyline – a family’s struggle, both financially and physically, after the mother gets ill. Osman reckons that it is important for a horror movie to have a unique theme beneath its scary surface. He describes Langsuir as a romantic teenage horror movie, where the protagonist is not merely a blood-sucking female being but someone who can love as well as hate.
Osman confesses to facing multiple challenges when he made the horror movie, which was filmed in Langkawi in less than a month. Besides using traditional technical camerawork as well as make-up and music to ensure the audiences would be creeped out when watching the film, Osman had to take other things into consideration as well.
“Horror films are usually shot at night at eerie locations. Challenges naturally include having to figure out how to shoot with very little lighting, and the often common occurrence of cast and crew experiencing supernatural disturbances.”
He added that he invited an Ustaz to the locations. “We usually do prayers before starting to shoot at a location.
Horror movies are challenging to make, but they are also a very interesting experience for a director,” states Osman, before revealing horror is his favourite genre even though he’s best known for directing romance. He lists the old black & white pontianak films as some of his favourite horror movies to come out from Malaysia, while naming the 1982 Pengabdi Setan and Thai’s Nang Nak as his all-time favourite Asian offerings.
If you need to satiate that horror fix, there are currently two flicks playing at the cinemas – Memoir (Thai) and Seruan Setan (Indonesia). And here are five upcoming titles to look forward to:
Kuntilanak (June 15)
Director Rizal Mantovani revisits his own 2006 film – that resulted in two sequels and made a star out of actress Julie Estelle – with this remake. (Hmmm ... the lack of new ideas is pretty scary too. OK, we jest.)
According to the Indonesian media, the film will have a different storyline – centering on a bunch of youngsters wanting to find the truth behind the disappearance of their friends. They think a supernatural creature living in an abandoned house is behind the kidnappings.
Starring Andryan Sulaiman, Sandrinna Michelle Skornicki, Adlu Fahrezy, Aurelie Moeremans and Fero Walandouw.
Buyers Beware (July 19)
Charlie, a property agent, works for an agency that buys property that belongs to occupants who have just died or were murdered, at a cheap rate and sells it at a higher price without revealing the tragedies that have occurred in the home. But, these nightmares begin to linger in his mind.
Directed by Jeffrey Chiang, this Hong Kong film stars Carlos Chan, Carmen Soup, KK Cheung, Mimi Kung and Bryant Mak.
Hantu Kak Limah 3 (Aug 9)
Admittedly, it is a stretch to call this Mamat Khalid film a horror movie since the scary scenes here are meant to tickle the audience more than anything else. Nonetheless, the first two films – headlined by Awie – have been entertaining to say the least.
In this third instalment, Zul Ariffin and Uqasha Senrose (playing Puteri Bunian) join in for some more bizarre goings-on.
Munafik 2 (Aug 30)
Director Syamsul Yusof’s 2016 flick proved to be a runaway success thanks to its exploration on faith, and the many stages of evil that exist once a person loses his/her religious beliefs.
It should be interesting to see what Syamsul has cooked up for this second outing revolving around his character Ustaz Adam. Maya Karin and Nasir Bilal Khan co-star.
Langsuir (Sept 20)
Revolves around a group of teenagers who go to a forbidden island – where these blood-sucking creatures are said to “live” – for a little vacation. There, Azlan meets Suri and promptly falls for her, not realising she’s not human.
Meanwhile, his friends are eager to test out a theory about langsuir (revenants or creatures that have returned from the dead) which angers the other supernatural beings on the island. Hannah Delisha and Syafiq Kyle lead the cast.
Warning: The video below is Joko Anwar's short film titled Grave Torture. It contains extremely scary elements. So definitely not for the faint-hearted.
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