Horror series ‘Folklore’ to include PH myth eventually
SINGAPORE—Asia gets a taste of homegrown horror via the six-episode anthology series “Folklore,” which will feature myths specific to Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea—and, possibly next year, the Philippines.
“There will be something [that includes] the Philippines, and more than that, we’ll have another series,” Jessica Kam, senior vice president of HBO Asia Original Productions, told the Inquirer at the press launch of the series. “Yes, the Philippines. I very much want to, but in [the first season of ‘Folklore’], we can’t have everybody. I’ll make sure it’s in Season 2.”
Previously, HBO Asia’s original horror-action series “Halfworlds” included Filipino actor Jake Macapagal, who played a kapre character.
Participating actors and directors from the region attended the launch of “Folklore” (which debuts on Oct. 7, 10 p.m. on HBO and HBO Go), including Korean singer-actress Lee Chae-yeon and filmmaker Lee Sang-woo.
For the episode “Mongdal,” the animated Sang-woo elaborated during a roundtable interview, “We have a bachelor ghost . . .if a guy doesn’t get married in time, he becomes a mongdal. They are lonely creatures; they would knock on the door and tell their moms—‘Mom, I’m so lonely, I need my better half.’
“So, that’s what happens. The ‘soul marriage’ happens in Korea.”
He paused and quipped, “So it’s all about our moms!”
Sang-woo, who shot two films in the Philippines—“Fire in Hell” and “Tropical Manila”—said that Chae-yeon was his first choice for the role of the young mom, Ok-bin.
“I didn’t give her much direction,” he said. “My expectations were so low, but she did better than what I expected.”
Chae-yeon, who was hesitant about playing a mother, disclosed that she had some superstitions after shooting, including sprinkling salt on herself and going into an establishment before heading home, supposedly to ward off spectral attention (the latter is similar to the practice of pagpag in the Philippines).
On her “different” role, she said through a translator, “Before I go to the shoot, I would tell myself, ‘I’m Ok-bin . . . I’m a principal; I’m the mother of a boy.’ I did a lot of that to get myself immersed in the character. Every scene I played and every shoot I went [to] was a challenge. But it was an unforgettable [project] for me because of all these challenges.”
Excerpts from the interview:
How did you keep things light on the set, since the story is especially grim?
LC (Lee Chae-yeon): Yes, the genre of the [show] is horror and it was rather heavy. I would say I put a lot of effort. And even though the shoot wasn’t that long, I kept my distance from anything too cheerful and filled myself with grim thoughts to prepare myself for the role.
But, on the set itself, as you can tell, Director Lee’s [personality] is bubbly and cheerful. It made the mood and ambiance quite light.
LS (Lee Sang-woo): I’m a happy camper. I’m always happy!
What changes have you observed about the Asian entertainment industry in recent years?
LC: [It’s] fast-changing. That’s one word I would say to describe the entertainment scene in Asia. More so because of the scarcity of content, compared to where we are now.
People would watch just one show over and over again . . . whereas now, we’re all flooded—content overload. We have new content turning up every day.
LS: My films have been shown in film festivals. I don’t know about the industry, but of the 50 films that I made, five of them were shot in Asian countries. I’m proud of being Asian because that’s something we have in common.
That’s why I want to keep making films. I’ve gone to Thailand and the Philippines so many times.
What frightens you about the real world?
LS: I was afraid of people’s reactions. My mom said, “Son, don’t worry about it.” That’s still something I’m worried about. But I’m going to get over it. My indie films show the dark side of society.
LC: As an artist and public figure, there’s always a fear of how well you’re going to be received. Like when you say something, when you behave a certain way . . . So, there’s always that fear as an actress.
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