Eric Khoo helming HBO Asia horror anthology series

Folklore directors (from left) Lee Sang Woo, Joko Anwar, Ho Yuhang and Eric Khoo.
Folklore directors (from left) Lee Sang Woo, Joko Anwar, Ho Yuhang and Eric Khoo.PHOTO: HBO ASIA

SINGAPORE - Folklore, a six-part anthology, is bringing horror with an Asian flavour to Singapore screens next year.

It features spooky tales from Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand, and will air on HBO platforms including HBO GO and HBO On Demand.

Singaporean film-maker Eric Khoo will direct an episode, and is also the series creator and showrunner. He says that his pitch to HBO Asia was to make a show "with all the famous ghouls from each country".

"And please don't let it be in English, but have it in each country's mother tongue. The scares will be better. Culturally and aesthetically, it would also work much better," says Khoo, 52, whose past horror credits include 1995's Mee Pok Man.

None of the stories will feature much gore, with the scares coming from mood and tone, he adds.

Khoo spoke on Thursday (Nov 30), with three other Folklore directors, at an HBO Asia event, held to announce a slate of new original shows, as well as returning series.

All six horror tales will be based in the modern day and feature contemporary themes.

His story will feature a "teenage pontianak", he says, allowing him to give a youthful twist to classic tales of a vengeful ghost of a woman who dies during childbirth. The dialogue is in Mandarin and Tamil as its main characters are a Chinese national and an Indian man.

The screenplay will be written by Amanda Lee Koe, winner of the Singapore Literature Prize for her short story collection Ministry Of Moral Panic (2013). This is their first collaboration.

The other Folklore directors will pen their own scripts. These include Indonesian film-maker Joko Anwar, whose work will reflect the belief that some children go missing because of a ghost of a woman who dies childless.

Malaysian director Ho Yuhang's story features a toyol, an imp who can serve humans, for a price, while director Lee Sang Woo's story will reflect the Korean belief that a man who dies unmarried will return as a jealous spirit.

The other two directors, not present at the event, are Pen-Ek Ratanaruang from Thailand and Takumi Saitoh from Japan.

Representing the acclaimed Taiwanese supernatural coming-of-age series The Teenage Psychic at the event was actress Kuo Shu-yau, who plays the title character Ya-zhen, a high-school student who can see ghosts.

The HBO Asia show will return for a second season, but the date has not been confirmed. Production is still in its early stages, and neither Kuo nor writer-director Chen Ho Yu could reveal many details about where the story will go.

In fact, when asked what she is looking forward to in the next season, Kuo, 27, while looking at Chen, jokingly says: "A script."