The 6 scariest horror movies from Asia

Asian horror flicks inspired many tropes including the creepy long-haired ghoul. (Toho pic)

Mention horror movies and many will immediately think of films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Halloween.

Quite a shame really, that these films come to mind immediately when Malaysia and other Asian countries have churned out films with extremely well-crafted scares that will leave you afraid of what’s lurking in the dark.

So, for this spooky month, do consider watching the scariest of Asian horror films to give yourself a good fright.

1. Munafik (2016)

Director and actor Syamsul Yusof plays Adam, a former Ustaz whose faith is shaken after a personal tragedy. (Skop Productions pic)

First on the list is a local product that scared its way into the position of best-selling Malaysian film of 2016.

Directed by Syamsul Yusof, the film follows an Ustaz named Adam whose faith in the divine is severely shaken after he loses his wife in a traffic accident.

When Maria, the daughter of a respected figure in his village is possessed by a supernatural being, Adam is left with little choice but to go head to head against the demon.

A movie that truly utilises its dark and gloomy atmosphere, the film does not rely on jump scares but the few that are present are indeed built-up to in a proper fashion.

In addition, unlike most religious horror films which have a bad habit of hammering their message home, Munafik presents its themes subtly and brilliantly through character growth instead.

2. Pengabdi Setan (2017)

After the death of their matriarch, the Suwono household begins to find itself under attack by supernatural forces. (Rapi Films pic)

Something of a remake and a prequel to a 1982 film of the same name, this movie smashed box office records in Indonesia and was released in over 40 countries.

A film by Joko Anwar, the film is centred around a family in grief after the loss of their mother to a mysterious disease.

When a string of supernatural events begin to torment the family, it becomes evident that their dear mother had a dark side to her during her life.

While this is a slow-burn movie compared to its 1982 counterpart, the film is remarkably scarier and has terrifying imagery to match.

In addition, the performances across the board are competent, especially from the child actors whose eerie behaviour who will leave you frightened of kids for a bit.

3. Pee Mak (2013)

This Thai horror-comedy is based on the famous legend of Mae Nak Phra Khanong. (GMM Tai Hub pic)

Thailand has a knack for producing top-grade horror movies; what with a good number of them getting remakes in the West that tend to not match up to their originals.

In an interesting take on the genre, this film is not only a horror film but also a comedy.

Thailand’s highest grossing film of all time is based on the famous Thai legend of Mae Nak Phra Khanong, a ghostly woman renowned for her undying loyalty to her husband.

This adaptation follows the same path of the legend, albeit with a comedic twist as the husband of Mae Nak is in the good company of his four friends and their farcical attempts to warn him about her being a ghost.

Despite the laughs that come from their antics, Pee Mak has legitimately spine-chilling moments and a good number of twists that will leave you gripping the edge of your seat.

4. Ringu (1998)

Exceptionally successful in Japan and abroad, Ringu triggered a trend of remakes in the West. (Toho pic)

The one Asian horror film that Western audiences might have heard of, Ringu is the original film that the American 2003 release, The Ring, is a remake of.

Normally paired with Ju-On as the most terrifying of Japanese horror flicks, this film is centred around a cursed video that will kill anyone who watches it in a mysterious manner.

The film is based on a novel by Koji Suzuki and can be said to be the origin of the stringy haired ghost girl horror trope.

When a journalist named Reiko watches the video and is marked for death, she has seven days to find the origins of the video and stop the curse permanently.

It is this terrifying film that has the iconic horror movie scene with the murderous ghoul crawling on all fours out of a television set to take the life of her next victim.

5. The Untold Story (1993)

This film is based on the Eight Immortals Restaurant murders in Macao that sparked a rumour about human meat in pork buns. (Kwan Hung Films pic)

A Hong Kong film that will leave many viewers sick to the stomach, it will most certainly leave you wary of cha siu bao for a very long time.

Rather horrifyingly, it is based on an actual murder case in 1985 that took place eight years before the film’s release.

The Eight Immortals Restaurant murder gripped Macao in horror as it was revealed that the corpses of the victims were not complete.

Like the British tale of Sweeney Todd, an urban legend about the killer using his victims’ body parts as pork bun fillings spread like wildfire.

This film starring Anthony Wong runs with the urban legend and has no holds barred with its gore and brutality.

6. Train to Busan (2016)

A zombie film, Train to Busan also acts as a critique on South Korean societal issues. (Next Entertainment World pic)

A hit movie not only in South Korea but also in Malaysia and other countries, this blockbuster is adored by critics and audiences alike for its unique take on the zombie apocalypse genre.

The story follows a businessman named Seok-woo who is accompanying his aloof daughter to meet her mother in Busan when a zombie outbreak explodes out of control.

With the action and frights mostly taking on board a high-speed train, the atmosphere is alarmingly claustrophobic as the main characters fight their way through carriages of zombies.

Rather terrifyingly, the zombies in this film are not the slow shambling corpses that can be easily evaded, but are akin to rabid sprinters who will stop at nothing to infect the next person.

The movie also makes it a point that it is sometimes not the monsters that you have to fear as much as the desperate humans who will do literally anything to stay alive.