On the final night of the inaugural Scream Asia Film Festival, horror fans were treated to the melancholy aspects of supernatural tropes with the short film Hana and feature They Who Are Not Seen.

Directed by first-timer Mai Nakanishi, Hana paints a domestic tragedy on a bright canvas of whiteout, subverting the haunted house genre with brilliant simplicity.

Within an economical 13 minutes, Nakanishi demonstrates a deft mastery over the horror clichés, exercising the necessary restraint to allow the desired emotions to come through.

Indonesian film-maker Billy Christian’s They Who Are Not Seen finds parallels with The Sixth Sense in that it features a character, Saras (Estelle Linden) who is able to “see dead people”.

Like The Sixth Sense, the movie also contains a significant plot twist that is wholly satisfactory in its own context.

Whilst They Who Are Not Seen would have worked as a straight horror story – there are enough genuine scares for that – Christian pushes the movie further to make the stories about the love of mother and daughter and the feminist perspective.

Thus, there are real heart-tugging moments that perhaps the audience might not have expected. The brilliant casting of Linden and Sophia Latjuba (as Saras’ mother) enhances the movie greatly.

Like HanaThey Who Are Not Seen is a tragedy disguised as a horror movie, with strong themes of loss and regret. Powerful.

With that the curtain has fallen on Scream Asia Film Festival 2018. It has been a good movie going experience with a solid lineup featuring diverse approaches to the horror genre.

Looking forward to next year when the focus will be on budding film makers and short films! Kudos to all concerned!!

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