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  • Annya Pabial

10 Asian & Middle Eastern Horror Films to Watch This October

Finally, it’s October, my favourite month of the year, not only because it's my birthday but also Halloween is just a few weeks away! To kick off the spooky festivities, why not check out some of these horror/thriller films centered around Asians and Middle Easterners? Personally, I don’t scare that easily, but some of these films are genuinely chilling, making for a great binge-watch party night if you and your friends are stuck on what to do this year.

Zinda Laash (1967) / The Living Corpse

dir. Khwaja Sarfraz

Available on YouTube

Starting us off is this Pakistani film, the oldest on the list but worth the watch. It’s based on the age-old tale of Dracula but executed with great SA flair. While it’s a little campy and laughable in places, like most old SA films, it’s super intriguing for those who like their vampires and are looking for some brown bloodsucker representation! It’s great for those who are into their film history since it’s full of interesting early story-telling techniques borrowed from western cinema and made into their own unique artistic production.

Hum Kaun Hai? (2004)

dir. Ravi Sharma Shankar

This one is a recommendation from my mother and I’ve not actually seen it but it has Amitabh Bachchan in it so how bad can it be? Wikipedia sumises the story as, After her daughter who suffers from a rare condition claims to see a group of individuals in the house, a woman refuses to believe her until she hears strange noises and feels a supernatural presence.

Dabbe: The Possession (2013)

dir. Hasan Karacadağ

Available on Netflix

Based on true events, audiences were terrified by this film that takes the classic trope of possession and subverts it by using Islamic customs to tell the story. It takes its influence from The Exorcist to offer something refreshing and completely horrifying.

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)

dir. Ana Lily Amirpour

I might be slightly biased when I say this but A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is the best film on this list. We follow an Iranian girl (who happens to be a murderous vampire) stalk and haunt the streets of a bleak town. She is ruthless in her campaign against thuggish men. What a heroine! Both the cast and direction are phenomenal. The women really shine through and blew me away when I watched. The soundtrack is great too. I highly recommend giving this a watch even if indie or black and white films aren’t normally your first choice.

Munafik (2016)

dir. Syamsul Yusof

This Malaysian horror garnered praise from audiences and critics alike with its rousing visuals and interesting execution in delivering the theme of the devil entangled in Sharia ideology. The story revolves around Adam who is a Muslim medical practitioner unable to accept the fact that his wife is no longer in this world. He agrees to treat a depressed woman named Maria but strange and unsettling things start to occur.

Under the Shadow (2016)

dir. Babak Anvari

Available on Netflix

In the '80s, during the war between the Islamic post-revolutionary Iran and Iraq, the former leftist medical student, Shideh, must protect her daughter from a harmful and demonic entity that she thinks has arrived when a missile crashes through her apartment building. Packed with stunning visuals, amazing camera work and a good script, this film is another must-watch! It expertly builds tension and offers a different viewpoint to jinns that ties in themes of spiritual and social anxiety. It terrified me for days after watching it so of course, I became obsessed with it.

Mata Batin (2017) / The Third Eye

dir. Rocky Soraya

Available on Netflix

When her little sister claims she sees the dead, Alia consults a psychic who enlightens her to the vengeful spirits that haunt her childhood home. Again, pretty good visuals, even if the acting is a little cheesy, and an overall interesting peek into the idea of the third eye and ghosts.

Pari (2018)

dir. Prosit Roy

This Indian film is centered on the demon Ifrit and Auladhchakra, a satanic cult in Bangladesh aiming to progress the bloodline of Ifrit and makes for a very graphic film that deals with themes of sexual assault and murder, so be warned if you decide to watch.

Evil Eye (2020)

dir. Elan Dassani; Rajeev Dassani

Available on Amazon Prime

This American film approaches how young South Asians experience romance, specifically modern arranged marriages, and twists it into something infernal. When Pallavi meets Sandeep, a charming man, her mother, Usha, has great concerns over him and fears he may be the reincarnation of her abusive ex-boyfriend. Pretty engaging and it was nice to see Indian beliefs in a western setting.

Bulbbul (2020)

dir. Anvita Dutt Guptan

Available on Netflix

And last but not least on our list is Bulbbul; a child bride who grows into an enigmatic woman that rules over her household while hiding her painful past as supernatural murders of men plague her village. Powered by the Goddess Kali, Bulbbul rights every wrong committed against her by men and reclaims her life through otherworldly transformations. This is another film with stunning visuals and a strong female lead so if you aren’t into the story, (though how could you not be) you’ll at least be enamoured by the cinematography and unapologetic women!

That wraps up our ten spooky film recommendations! We hope you’ll give one or two a go and let us know what you think by sending us a DM or comment on Instagram @joremagazine. Plus, while you’re at it, don’t forget to follow us for more South Asian diaspora content.

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