A SMALL town, a mysterious illness, a worried policewoman, and a sorcerer are the ingredients that make up the Philippine episode of the second season of HBO Asia’s series, Folklore.
Folklore is a horror anthology series created by Singaporean director Eric Khoo which premiered in 2018. Each season consists of six episodes featuring stories based on Asian superstitions and national folklore and myths, with each episode helmed by a director from the specific Asian country.
The Philippine episode, “7 Days of Hell,” directed by Erik Matti, is the fourth show of the second season which premiered on Nov. 14.
Known for his work in the horror and suspense genre, Mr. Matti has directed crime thrillers like Honor Thy Father (2015) and BuyBust (2018), and horror stories including Pa-Siyam (2004), Kuwaresma/The Entity (2019), and Seklusyon (2016).
Written by Michiko Yamamoto, the episode follows Lourdes (played by Dolly De Leon), a righteous policewoman and mother who tries to save her son Eugene (Roshson Barman) from an unknown illness. When Eugene is given only a few weeks to live, Lourdes discovers that her son’s illness is caused by a powerful sorcerer’s curse. For Eugene to survive, he has to make amends with the sorcerer. Desperate to save her son, Lourdes, alongside Jong (Mon Confiado), goes to find out what he had done.
“In the episode, [the characters] confronted with something they couldn’t explain. And as policemen, they rely mostly on evidence or proof, on nothing ambiguous. But then they end up thinking [that] maybe this is the work of the supernatural,” Mr. Matti said during an online press conference on Nov. 23.
“For people who believe in logic, I think that’s interesting to watch in a story that slowly they try to veer towards illogical stuff, veer towards gut instinct, and intuition rather than provable evidence,” he added.
The episode also focuses on the theme of family. “It’s very important to know our children,” Mr. Confiado said.
In rural communities in the country, the belief in the powers of an albularyo (folk healer), and sorcerers called mangkukulam or mambabarang is still evident today. Folk healers connect with nature and the supernatural to heal ordinary illnesses and paranormal inflictions, while the sorcerers use their powers to cause harm.
Ms. De Leon said that sometimes fear stems from the unknown in people rather than in the supernatural.
“Some spirits are powerful, but the problem with people is you really can’t control them or their presence in your lives,” Ms. De Leon said.
Mr. Matti noted that horror stories can reflect something societal.
“In in this episode, more than the mambabarang, we wanted to do a police crime story. Michiko and I love crime stories, especially police stories. And Lourdes and Jong represent the detectives that we always love in the film,” Mr. Matti said. “It starts out with a crime, and you will see how the kind of corruption in a small-town police station started it all.”
Folklore’s “7 Days of Hell” premieres on Dec. 5 on both HBO and HBO GO. To watch the episode on HBO GO, stream or download the second season of Folklore. The app can be found on the App Store or Play Store. HBO GO is also accessible via Cignal or at https://www.hbogoasia.com/. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman