Asian Studies’ Pan-Asia Horror Film Festival


Before dressing up in their scariest costumes this Halloween weekend, DePauw students are invited to watch popular Asian horror films, eat sushi and win prizes at this year’s Pan-Asia Horror Festival.

Hosted by Asian Studies as part of DePauw University ArtsFest, the horror festival will screen four films over both Friday and Saturday: “Ju-on 2” (2003), “The Eye” (2002),  “Confessions” (2010) and “Train to Busan” (2016).

DePauw Professor of Asian Studies, Andra Alvis, led to the creation of the Pan-Asia Horror Festival to celebrate the Asian horror genre and introduce Asian studies courses to the wider student body, all on the cusp of Halloween.

“Students often stumble upon the many courses offered by accident. Ultimately these classes have good enrollments, but a lot of students don’t know about them,” said Alvis. “We wanted to give an idea, to students, about how you approach these [films] as both fun and coursework.”

Each film will be introduced to contextualize the movie for guests who have never seen an Asian horror movie.

“When some people think about the word ‘Asian,’ they think about ‘traditional’ culture,” said Alvis. “But, we want to talk about Asia in a more complex way, focusing on social issues, historical circumstances, media influences, and give students different ways to approach the films.”

Alvis will introduce “Confessions,” where she will unpack the second wave of the Japanese horror genre.

Director Tetsuya Nakashima adapted “Confessions” from a popular mystery novel, where a teacher must solve the murder of her young daughter.

Alongside Alvis, other professors in the Asian Studies department and Indiana University’s visiting Assistant Professor, Dr. Michael Crandol, will introduce the films.

Crandol’s research has been in Japanese film, horror and East Asian traditions, making him a perfect resource to introduce the first feature on Friday, “Ju-on 2.”

Directed by popular horror genre filmmaker Takashi Shimizu, “Ju-on 2” is about a supernatural ghost who curses a house after the murder of a housewife.

Crandol hopes students learn how Asian horror is both similar and different to the American horror genre mainstream in the U.S. through films like “Ju-on 2.”

“There is a tendency for American and Western viewers to look at Asian horror and say it’s completely different than Hollywood, and while that is true to some degree, commercial cinema is a transnational and global cinema,” said Crandol. “Hopefully they will get a sense of how Asian horror operates in a global context.”  

The festival will commence with “Train to Busan,” the critically acclaimed Korean zombie film, which Alvis described as the “best zombie movie of the 21st century.”

The Pan-Asia Horror Film Festival is happening this Friday and Saturday in the Watson Forum of the PCCM.