MANILA — Which is scarier: the supernatural and all its unknowns, or the clear-as-day reality of people driven by greed?
That’s the question “7 Days of Hell” sets out to answer when it premieres December 5, as one of the episodes of HBO Asia’s horror anthology “Folklore.”
The Erik Matti-helmed episode is one of six that highlights an Asian country each, in the ongoing second season which is available via HBO Go.
“7 Days of Hell” follow Lourdes (Dolly de Leon), a righteous police woman who grows increasingly desperate to save her son Eugene (Roshson Barman) from a mysterious illness, which she later confirms to be the curse of a sorcerer, or “mangkukulam.”
For Matti, Lourdes’ story explores “how fear could build up from something that you don’t really understand.”
“Right now, not just because of the pandemic, but generally how the world functions, there’s a lot of fear that goes around that you can’t totally explain. The inexplicable is the one fueling the fear itself,” he explained during a recent media roundtable for the episode.
Referring to the characters of de Leon and acclaimed actor Mon Confiado, who is also a cop, Matti added, “When they’re confronted with something that they can’t explain, they rely mostly on evidence, on proof, on nothing ambiguous.
“But then, they end up thinking about, ‘Maybe this is the work of the supernatural.’ For people who believe in logic, I think it’s interesting to watch in a story — that slowly, they try to veer towards the illogical, gut instinct, intuition, rather than provable evidence.”
In Lourdes’ quest to save her family, she is forced not only to confront what lies beyond the logical, but also the reason why her son was cursed by the “mangkukulam,” and further why only an apology can spare him.
“Mas nakakatakot talaga ang tao, iyon ang totoo,” de Leon said. “With people, you can’t control them or their presence in your life.”
“That’s the value here also, in ‘7 Days of Hell’ — it’s about navigating a world where people have twisted values, trying to survive and making sense of everything despite the corruption of people.
“Bukod pa doon sa spirits and elementals na tinatawag in the episode, it’s also really the people who cause the conflict here. That’s the scarier thing for me,” the actress said.
For de Leon, the “reality” of the practice of “pangkukulam” or sorcery in the Philippines makes the episode uniquely frightening especially for Filipino viewers who may have witnessed or experienced first-hand being “cursed.”
Joining de Leon and Confiado in the cast are Princess Amor Lucas as Eunice, Donna Cariaga as Let, Jay Glorioso as Mameng, and Dido dela Paz as Celso.
Episodes of “Folklore” Season 2, including “7 Days of Hell,” can be streamed via HBO Go.