Japanese pop icon Seiko Matsuda makes directorial debut in second season of Folklore by HBO Asia

The second season of Folklore will feature Seiko Matsuda (left) and Nicole Midori Woodford as directors.
The second season of Folklore will feature Seiko Matsuda (left) and Nicole Midori Woodford as directors.PHOTOS: HBO, HBO ASIA

SINGAPORE - Get ready for a new season of scares.

WarnerMedia announced on Tuesday (Dec 1) the second season of the HBO Asia Original horror anthology series, Folklore.

Veteran Singaporean filmmaker, Eric Khoo, will once again helm the award-winning horror series which will consist of seven episodes, each an hour long.

The episodes will be directed by a mix of established and up-and-coming local directors from seven Asian markets: Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

"The horror genre has always worked well in Asia. Following the success of the first season of Folklore, WarnerMedia has green lit the second season of the award-winning series, expanding the anthology series to more Asian countries," said Magdalene Ew, Head of Entertainment of WarnerMedia India, Southeast Asia and Korea.

The directors for Folklore Season 2 will include Sittisiri Mongkolsiri from Thailand, Shih-Han Liao from Taiwan, Erik Matti from the Philippines, Billy Christian from Indonesia, Nicole Midori Woodford from Singapore, Bradley Liew from Malaysia and Japanese singer-songwriter Seiko Matsuda who will be making her directorial debut.

The first season (2018-19) explored deep seated Asian superstitions including the pontianak (a female vampire) and the toyol (a child spirit). Episodes from the six-part anthology went to many horror festivals including the Sitges Film Festival in Spain and Fantastic Fest in the United States.

Showrunner Khoo says the second season will continue to explore spirits and ghouls from Asian folklore.

"There was a lot of social commentary in the first season. In Season 2, we want to push for a more suspenseful paranormal narrative. It will be spookier."

He adds: "It was wonderful working with such talented directors for Folklore and I can't wait to journey with this new exciting team for Season 2. I'm also extremely happy that we have two female directors on board."

One of them is 1980s Japanese pop icon Seiko Matsuda who starred in Khoo's food and family drama Ramen Teh (2018).


Seiko Matsuda and Takumi Saitoh in a still from Ramen Teh. PHOTO: ZHAO WEI FILMS

Without giving too much away, she says her episode is based on a personal experience. She told Khoo about it one day, and the director told her she must realise it on screen and that he would help her do it.

It took the pop star one year to write and flesh out the story with Ms Tan Fong Cheng, a producer with Khoo's Zhaowei Films.

"The idea of the story has been in my mind for a long time, so the story itself was very easy to write. Fong Cheng is really talented and I learned a lot from her in the process of writing the script. This is my directorial debut and I am very grateful and excited to have such a wonderful opportunity."

The other female director is Ms Woodford, 34, who says that her episode will be centred on "a mother's unsettling and haunting relationship with her child".

"It will be a local story that will be familiar to a lot of Singaporeans while still being quite contemporary," says the filmmaker who also lectures at the School of Art, Design and Media in Nanyang Technological University.

"I think the mother character in my script is very complex. As a woman myself, this complexity is something I definitely spent a lot of time crafting in my script."

Filipino director Matti says he is grateful he is on board the new season.

"We have a rich heritage of folklore and myths that can be traced to pagan Philippines. These folklore also has a mix of Spanish beliefs as the Spanish occupied the Philippines for over 300 years."

Principal photography will commence early next year in the seven Asian markets.

Folklore Season 2 will premiere next year on HBO GO and HBO.