The Great Wall of Horror watches HBO’s Folklore ep 2: Tatami


On this installment of The Great Wall of Horror, we look into the second episode of HBO’s Folklore focusing on Japanese tatami spirits.

The Great Wall of Horror is back again for the special coverage on the new HBO show Folklore. If you missed our coverage of episode one “A Mother’s Love,”check that out before you read more and then be sure to come back.

If this is your first encounter with Folklore, basically is it a mini-series where each episode focuses on a story or superstition from a different Asian country. The first episode focused on the Wewe from Indonesia and episode two, “Tatami,” comes to us from Japan.

This episode is directed by Takumi Saitoh and stars Kazuki Kitamura, Misuzu Kanno, Daisuki Kuroda and Shim Ohnishi. The story focuses on the concept of tatami spirits, but not the mischievous zashiki-warashi, which is usually a small child-like spirit that moves things around in tatami rooms.

This one focuses on the concept that perhaps deaths and murderers that occur on the tatami gets soaked in and stays. A tatami is a large mat traditionally made of rice straw that lines the floor of older Japanese homes and buildings. Although not used as often as they used to, tatamis were a common item on the floors of a Japanese home.

Image courtesy of HBO

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A murder scene writer finishes up a tough assignment and heads to his childhood home for the funeral of his father. His mother is there, too, and it is a solemn time. One night, he wakes up to a recurring bad dream and walks through the house. When he finds a hidden room, a chain reaction starts and a rush of childhood memories that explains his fascination with the idea of tatami spirits begin to come back to him.

This episode is unusual. Because the main character is deaf, there are lots of moments of silence which are sometimes more powerful than any sound effect could ever be. The acting is phenomenal and unsettling and the story itself is shocking. I found myself on more than one occasion sitting with my hand over my mouth at the horrifying story I was watching. The ending is a bit confusing but when combined with the rest of the episode, it didn’t change the effectiveness of the story.

I cannot wait to go into episode three “Nobody” from Singapore, but that will have to wait for another installment of The Great Wall of Horror. So far, Folklore doesn’t disappoint and it’s wonderful to get a peek of the stories of the things that go bump in the night from across Asia.

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Have you been watching Folklore? What you do you think of the show? Let us know in the comments.