Catch Your Horror Faves With A Twist On HBO

Get ready to be creeped out by these twisted retellings of classic folkore

When you think you’ve seen it all, HBO Asia goes and stirs up newly-concocted horrors using familiar ghost stories that gave you the chills during your childhood. This month, you’ll get to revisit those feelings of terror with HBO Asia’s Folklore – a mini-series of six Asian horror movies.

Folklore: Toyol from HBO Asia features the well-known imp with an unexpected twist.

The series features one hour-long movie each from six Asian countries – Malaysia, Indonesia Japan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand. Each movie contains an element of horror from the folklores and myths of each respective country. With different directors and actors from the different countries, in the local language the episode is set in, it’s an interesting trip via Asia through horror films. The twist here, though, is that each tale is given an updated twist to the usual supernatural elements, so that you can expect the unexpected.

The Ugly Side Of The Toyol In Asian Horror Movies

Malaysian viewers and enthusiasts of Asian horror movies might remember stories of the toyol, that elfin supernatural thief created from a dead foetus. It does the biddings of its master but demands a bloody payment for its help. HBO’s Folklore: Toyol features a storyline based on this entity but it is more sinister rather than mischievous, like in the village stories and urban legends.

Lead by Malaysian director Ho Yuhang, the episode stars two actors who are no strangers to the horror genre – Bront Palarae and Nabila Huda. In fact, having starred in HBO Asia’s Halfworlds, and Satan’s Slaves, Bront was about to give acting in horror films a rest but found doing Toyol too unique to resist. Meanwhile, Nabila Huda had her fair share of horror roles in Munafik, among other supernatural movies, and really seems the perfect fit for her role in Toyol.

Nabila Huda plays a mysterious woman who seems to use black magic to fulfil her ends.

Toyol sees Bront as a politician and elected official who has to deal with a mysterious event that threatens the livelihood of the community in his constituent. Desperate to solve the problem, he resorts to drastic measures, including engaging in black magic activities. He meets a woman who seems to have powers that help his situation, and soon finds himself romantically involved with her. However, he later starts experiencing disturbing dreams and mysterious events in the house. Things intensify after the woman, now his wife, gets pregnant. Is he really seeing another boy in the house? And does it have anything to do with the baby who died in his mother’s arms due to a gas explosion in their low-cost flat?

Bront Palarae as the troubled politician who gets swayed into joining the dark side in order to do good.

Without giving too much away, we’d say that Folklore: Toyol definitely offers something different than your usual ghost story. The plot progression veers away from the familiar and serves up a whole that makes you wonder about the characters’ past, but in a mystified manner instead of a “hanging story” kind of way. The story wraps up as nicely as possible for one of this genre in the end and will leave you with a prolonged possession of goosebumps.

Delve Into Other Asian Horror Movies With Folklore

Other than Ho Yuhang helming Toyol, other acclaimed directors involved in the series are Joko Anwar from Indonesia, Takumi Saitoh from Japan, Lee Sang-Woo from Korea, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang from Thailand, and the showrunner for this seris, Eric Khoo from Singapore. Expect similarly chilling tales derived from each country’s supernatural folklore in their respective movies and give yourself a good fright as the series rolls out this month.

Here’s a sneek peak into what’s waiting for you on HBO this month:

FOLKLORE premieres on Sunday, October 7 at 10pm exclusively on HBO (Astro Ch 411 / 431 HD). New episodes will debut at the same time every subsequent Sunday. The series will also be available on HBO On Demand (via Astro Go).