Horror is a genre which likes to borrow liberally from folklore and myth. Most famously in the guise of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but vampires and the undead have been prevalent in legends from all over the world. Asia is by no means an exception. Indeed, spirituality and tales of the dead are plentiful across several cultures and they’re often quite bizarre. In China, they have the jiangshi, a hopping vampire. In the Philippines they have the Aswang. They’re the focus of Matthew Abaya’s new film Vampariah.
As part of an elite squad of hunters in San Francisco, Mahal (Kelly Lou Dennis) has dedicated her life to ridding the city, and the world, of the vampires and other undead creatures. When she goes in pursuit of an Aswang (Aureen Almario), a vampire which resembles a beautiful young woman and can detach its upper body and fly, Mahal finds her past coming back to haunt her. Her whole world suddenly falls apart.
Vampariah is an intriguing slice of genre cinema. Whilst it (all too) obviously (at times) suffers from a lack of budget, and some of the writing and dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, there’s enough imaginative touches and clever film-making to make it well worth a watch. By basing his film around a Filipino myth, Abaya opens up a whole new area for terror and fun. Vampariah is a fast and loose horror which makes good use of a meagre budget.
Vampariah is available to watch on Digital Download from 4th December