It’s the most wonderful time of the year— no, we’re not talking about Christmas, but spooky season. Halloween, our favorite holiday, is around the corner and what better way to get into the spirit than by cozying up with some snacks in front of your screen and binging spine-tingling horror movies? While the Middle East might not be known for its frightening productions in the genre of horror, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of hair-raising Arabic movies that will send shivers down your spine. Below, five of them.
Saudi doctor-turned-filmmaker Hakeem Jomah traveled to the supposedly haunted Madayen Saleh ruins in the north of the Kingdom to shoot his first film, Madayen. Known as Saudi Arabia’s first horror film, the story revolves around three young friends who visit the cursed location in search of the truth. The award-winning psychological thriller screened at the Hong Kong Independent Film Festival as well as the Arab Film Festival in Los Angeles.
‘The Blue Elephant’
The Marwan Hamed-directed film tells the story of a psychotherapist named Dr. Yehia. Five years after his wife and daughter passed away, the doctor returns to his job at the Al Abbasia hospital, where he is responsible for treating criminally insane patients. His life immediately takes a turn when he discovers that his best friend has just been transferred to his wing for psychological evaluation for brutally murdering his wife. Don’t forget to watch the sequel, The Blue Elephant 2, right after you finish this.
‘Al Ins We Al Jin’
The film sees Adel Imam play a shape-shifting demon trying to pass off as a travel agent. Named Galal, the character falls in love with a woman who just returned to Egypt from America and the film follows him as he tries to convince her not marry her fiancé.
If you’re all about the supernatural, this one is for you. Directed by the late American filmmaker who gave us Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper, the Emirati film trails the story of a couple as they move back to their homeland, only to discover that their new apartment was once home to a demon that’s now looking to reclaim his land.
Kandisha is a female mythological figure with hooves in Moroccan folklore known for using her beauty to seduce local men and then kill them. The vengeful spirit has been referenced in a number of local cultural works, including the 2008 Moroccan horror film starring Hiam Abbas and Amira Casar, who plays a grieving criminal defense attorney who takes on a case involving Kandisha.