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Toronto: ‘Folklore’ Gives Primetime Festival Slot to Asian Horror

Anthology horror series “Folklore” will become the first Asian TV show to play in the Toronto Film Festival’s Primetime section. Primetime was launched in 2015 to reflect the trend toward original content production by broadcasters and streaming platforms.

Two episodes of the HBO Asia-backed show will screen this week. Singapore-based showrunner Eric Khoo and co-director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (“Last Life in the Universe”) will be in attendance.

“Horror from this part of the world is so mesmerizing. Some elements are very scary. Others are more sad,” Khoo told Variety. “Joko Anwar’s recent film ‘Satan’s Slaves’ shows that Indonesia has some really creepy horror. Location and sense of place lends a lot to the genre. The Japanese and Indonesian episodes (of the series) are so completely different. But they both have a paranormal solidity, and really pack a punch.”

Anwar’s “Folklore” episode “A Mother’s Love” screens in Toronto and stars Marissa Anita and Muzakki Ramdhan as a single mother and her young son who discover a group of dirty and underfed children living in a mansion’s attic. Although the woman does not know it, by helping out she has snatched the children from their adoptive mother and will have to pay a price.

Ratanaruang’s “Pob” involves an encounter between a foreign man and a Thai ghost who confesses to a murder. “There are moments of situation comedy, another part more like ‘Interview With the Vampire,’ and another side involves role reversal. I like the idea that even after we are dead, Thai people are still scared of farang (Westerners),” said Ratanaruang. “I’d call it more a ghost film than a horror picture.”

Ratanaruang says he appreciated the simplicity of the greenlighting and budget process for “Folklore.” “(Complete) creative freedom is over-rated,” he said. “But I want to be the person pushing me, not somebody else. With this project I knew exactly what I had to deliver.”

Khoo also directed one of the six episodes. His “Nobody,” not screening in Toronto, depicts the consequences which follow when a foreman and a construction worker fail to properly dispose of a woman’s body. Other episodes are shot by Japan’s Takumi Saitoh, Korea’s Lee Sang-Woo and Malaysia’s Ho Yuhang.

The full six-part series will begin to be available Oct. 7 on HBO Asia, which commissioned and invested in the series. New episodes will be introduced on subsequent Sundays, with the season also uploading to streaming service HBO Go and HBO On Demand.

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