If you think Halloween isn’t a big deal in Southeast Asia, you’d better think again. From Halloween costume competitions and haunted-house extravaganzas for the kids to Halloween-costume-themed parties for the adults, Halloween is a festive occasion that is celebrated by many.
However, the modern essence of Halloween is to challenge your fear, and what better way to do that than to binge-watch horror movies? Whether you’re looking to re-watch local horror films or to discover other scary films from neighbouring countries, here are the seven scariest Asian horror movies you need to watch this Halloween. Caution: Don’t watch these movies alone!
If you grew up in the early 2000s, the chances are you will know this film. Shutter is a 2014 Thai horror movie that became a phenomenon upon its release. The film tells the story of a photographer and his girlfriend who discover mysterious shadows in their works after an incident. Directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom, Shutter is a smart horror film that doesn’t always rely on gory images and offers a good jump-scare and a memorable twist that you won’t find it coming.
We are not saying that the Hollywood remake in 2002 was a cheap take, but, as they say, the original is always better. Released in 1998, Ringu was met with critical acclaim from movie critics and audiences as well. The movie’s plot combines Asian supernatural elements with technological advances that would probably have failed if poorly directed, but thanks to director Hideo Nakata, Ringu has genuinely scary moments with hair-raising jump scares.
A sleeper hit at the Jakarta International Film Festival (JIFFEST) in 2009, Keramat, a film directed by Monty Tiwa, is now regarded as a cult horror film by many Indonesian movie-goers. The mockumentary might remind audiences of Hollywood’s cult hit The Blair Witch Project (1999), but it stood out with its solid direction and strong performances with a story about a group of young Indonesian filmmakers whose travel from Jakarta to Bantul turns out to be a terrifying journey.
The Eye (2002)
The Eye is a good example of why sometimes a remake is not needed. The 2002 Hong Kong-Singaporean horror film made a buzz upon its release thanks to its well-written script and spine-chilling direction by the Pang Brothers. With two remakes made in Hollywood and Bollywood, The Eye original still won by a mile as it mixed Asian supernatural elements in a urban setting. Watch out for the eerie elevator scene!
Pocong 2 (2006)
The first Pocong movie never made it to the cinema as it was banned by the censorship board due to violence and explicit contents. However, the second film, Pocong 2, made it to the cinema and infected the whole nation with fear. A story of two sisters who find themselves haunted by a demonic creature in their new apartment, Pocong II is disturbing and downright terrifying. Despite its low-budget production and seven-day duration shoot, this Rudy Soedjarwo movie still managed to induce fear and has been regarded as a classic since then.
Phobia 2 (2009)
It’s rare for a sequel to be good, especially in the horror genre. Rare, but not impossible, as Thailand’s Phobia 2 did it. The film consists of five short yet equally terrifying stories that took place in locations from a temple to a hospital to a film location. Directed by five different Thai directors, Phobia 2 was a huge box-office hit in its home country, making it the all-time highest-grossing Thai horror movie on opening day.
A Bollywood horror movie might sound foreign to many viewers; however, if there is one movie that managed to break the stereotypes it would be Ram Gopal Varma’s Bhoot. The 2003 supernatural horror film revolves around a married couple who experience a series of unexplainable events after they move to a haunted apartment. The splendid acting by actress Urmila Matondkar will give anyone a treat and be prepared to sleep with the lights on because you might need to. Also, if you worry about clichéd Bollywood songs, don’t worry, because there aren’t any!