eptember is ending and we’re about to wake up… just in time for Halloween! Granted, Halloween is more of a Western tradition, rather than Asian, but who are we to turn down this excuse to get a little spooky? Us folks from OH! Press have made our picks of favourite Asian Horror… but this time, we’re not limiting ourselves to our usual repertoire.
Mogwai | Nang Nak (dir. Nonzee Nimibutr)
I’m gonna go ahead and take the road slightly less travelled with a Thai pick! We’ve never covered Thai entertainment on OH! Press. But when we’re talking about Asian horror, you can’t sleep on the Thais – especially not “Nang Nak”.
The tale of “Nang Nak” is one of unwavering loyalty and devotion in the face of death – this adaptation nails that.
This isn’t your regular old scarefest. Sure, “Nang Nak” scares the bejesus out of me (I mean, this isn’t particularly hard to achieve, but whatever). But what makes this cinematic take on local folklore, that allegedly took place between the ‘50s to ‘60’s, special is its heart. The tale of “Nang Nak” is one of unwavering loyalty and devotion in the face of death – this adaptation nails that.
Its strength, in this regard, is the way the cast just delivers (*chef’s kiss*). You can’t hate the gorgeous chemistry between the stars, Inthira Charoenpura and Winai Kraibutr. I can practically see the air crackling on the screen between them, which makes the inevitable spiral and ending so heartbreaking. Or maybe it just appeals to my Scorpio Sun and Venus, who knows.
HikazePrincess | Ousama Game (dir. Noriyoshi Sasaki)
I’ve honestly avoided the horror genre as much as possible. I have a passing interest in mysterious and spooky things, but it usually comes back to bite me, so I generally stay away from them. But since this film stars several of my favorite idols, not to mention one of my favorite actors, I was intrigued enough to make an exception.
Starring Dori Sakurada and Yurina Kumai, a classroom of students suddenly gets random text messages from a sender called “The King” inviting all of them to play a game. They must follow the orders within 24 hours and withdrawing from the game at any point is not allowed. Though the orders start out innocent, they gradually increase in severity and students are being erased from existence. Eager to save their friends, Nobuaki (Sakurada) and Chiemi (Kumai) search for a clue to beating the game and discovering the King’s identity.
I don’t like ranking things, but for those not into hardcore horror, (Ousama Game) is certainly a very chilling movie.
The film is based on a cell phone novel (a literary work comprised of text messages) and an anime adaptation was released in the fall of 2017 with a different storyline, though events from the movie were included as flashbacks. While the deaths in the movie were generally toned down (likely due to the age of some of the idols), the anime was considerably more bloody and gory. “Amazuppai Haru ni Sakura Saku”, a collab effort between Berryz Koubou and °C-ute, served as the film’s theme song and members of both groups appeared in the film. °C-ute’s Airi Suzuki also sang an insert song for the film titled “King’s Game.”
As a lackluster horror viewer, I was honestly baffled by the King’s Game. It just seems like it started completely randomly and the King’s identity is ultimately revealed, it’s even more baffling since the person seemed totally unaware and unable (or unwilling?) to prevent the game. At the very least, I was hoping for an explanation as to the King’s motivation. The anime gave the King a rather morbid goal, but no real motivation to speak of. I don’t like ranking things, but for those not into hardcore horror, it’s certainly a very chilling movie.
Jiyo | The Wailing (dir. Na Hong Jin)
There’s something quite unique about a horror movie that is capable of taking your heart by its hands and making you squeal and beg for mercy. Tackling faith and paranoia, the Korean film “The Wailing” is perfect for fans of occultism, unsettling horror and films that make you wish you were a tiny bit braver. Telling the story of a small, isolated village and the series of strange murders that start to happen in it, “The Wailing” manages to make an everlasting impression even on the most skeptical viewers.
“The Wailing” is perfect for fans of occultism, unsettling horror and films that make you wish you were a tiny bit braver.
Not only does it have a compelling story and mysterious, atmospheric cinematography, it also excels in the acting department, making you root for the main characters like you never did before. Kim Hwan Hee, the young actress who plays our main protagonist’s daughter, Hyo Jin, brings one of the most powerful child performances of recent years. Her clumsy on-screen dad, brought to life by actor Kwak Do Won, will make you laugh and cry all at once.
And if all of that weren’t enough, the movie has one of the scariest cases of the “the mysterious stranger that just moved to town” trope, proving itself to be the best kind of spooky horror out there. Definitely worth watching it alone in the middle of the night – if you can!
SLY | The Road (dir. Yam Laranas)
To be quite honest, I am not a fan of Asian horror movies. I rarely watch them, but when I do, it means that the reviews were amazing and makes it worth the watch. In 2011, Philippine production company GMA Films released one of the best horror movies the Philippines has to offer. “The Road” is not a straight road for sure, it is more of a rollercoaster ride of thrill and emotions. The movie features three different storylines that at first seem totally unrelated to each other. As the climax of the movie comes, though, goosebumps will fill you when you realize what has been going on from the start.
(The Road) is not only critically acclaimed in the Philippines, but also in some countries in North America.
The prime figure of the film is Luis, a police officer who is investigating a certain mysterious event in their area. The first story is about a band of friends who wandered into a restricted road in the woods. They enjoy their joyride until they realize that they had been going in circles all along. Confusions arise as they approach a crashed red car they have repeatedly seen which sparked the beginning of unfortunate events that Luis later investigates. The second story is about two sisters who also drove through the same road. They find themselves abducted by a teenage boy who dabbles in the occult and terrifying things to them ending into a car crash. The last story is about a young boy living in the woods who always wanted to leave his home. His parents took notice of his desire and decided to lock him up and isolate him from the outside world.
Watch the movie and you do the math. The movie is not only critically acclaimed in the Philippines, but also in some countries in North America. Most reviews praised the unexpected twists, unique story, and world-class cinematography of “The Road”. The performances by Barbie Forteza, Rhian Ramos, and Alden Richards in the movie were also commended. Truly worth the watch! Watch alone, if you dare.
SteelHeart | Feng Shui (dir. Chito S. Roño)
Many Filipinos will agree if I say that “Feng Shui” is one of the best horror movies in the Philippines, or perhaps, this film is a masterpiece on its own. Directed and written by the critically acclaimed Film Director Chito S. Roño, Feng Shui follows the story of Joy Ramirez (played by Kris Quino) who found a bagua mirror on a bus. Upon bringing it home, Joy finds herself caught in the middle of tremendous luck and a horrifying curse.
“Feng Shui” is one of the best horror movies in the Philippines, or perhaps, this film is a masterpiece on its own.
What’s notable about this movie is the incorporation of the Filipino and Chinese culture in one storyline that tackles the life of many individuals who believes in the power of luck. The film did not heavily rely on jump scares and gore, which is a typical element in most fear-oriented flicks. “Feng Shui” has the right mix of what a scary movie should be and established a standard in the Philippine cinema when it comes to horror films. After watching this movie, it will give you a different perspective on luck or maybe sleepless nights.
Any of these not scary enough for you? Or do you have even spookier movies in mind?
Share them with us in the comments! We’re ready… or not.