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Exclusive Q&A: ‘Incantation’ Director & Stars On Mother Buddha, Avoiding Taboos, and More!

The hit horror film from Taiwan continues to scare viewers, thanks to its found footage style and terrifying premise.

The Taiwanese horror film Incantation instantly became a hit when it dropped on Netflix, taking the viewers by storm with its creepy found-footage format and spine-chilling premise.

While it has been out for almost a month now, the title continues to gain popularity, especially with the TikTok crowd amplifying the viewers’ collective fear surrounding the film.

For the uninitiated, Incantation is a found-footage horror film that follows a woman named Ro-nan, as she tries to save her daughter from a deadly curse that she and her friends had unleashed years ago.

Netflix has given us a chance to virtually sit with the film’s director Kevin Ko, and its stars Tsai Hsuan-yen, who played the protagonist, Ro-nan, and Kao Ying-hsua who starred as Chi-ming, the counselor at the foster care center. Below are the highlights of the interview.

From Left to Right: Director Kevin Ko, lead actress Tsai Hsuan-yen, and actor Kao Ying-hsua.
(Photo courtesy of Netflix)

The True Story Behind Incantation

Incantation further fuels the suspension of disbelief among viewers with their claim that the film is based on a true story. According to director Ko, the movie was inspired by an incident in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 2005 where a family was said to have been possessed by deities.


“When I heard about this situation in Kaohsiung, I wasn’t there to note much about it,” shared Ko. “It was something scary for me, that I didn’t want to know too much. So I wanted to keep the same feelings and same elements in the story of the film that you see.”

Meanwhile, the incantation and the Mother Buddha from the film were purely fictional according to the director, so you’d have less to worry about if you accidentally chanted with the film.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

The Horror of the Holes

The film is sure to disturb those with trypophobia and claustrophobia as holes seem to be a recurring theme in the film. Asked if it was deliberate, the director shared it was the idea of the unknown that comes with these holes, that he utilized to evoke fear among the viewers.

“When I was making the film, I was thinking about what was the most terrifying elements to people,” explained Director Ko. “And it is something invisible, intangible, and something unknown. So for example when you see the film, there’s a tunnel, it’s dark inside. You see the Mother Buddha, it’s dark inside, and you see the hole in their bodies. It feels like you may be sucked inside the hole, and realize that something may come out of the hole. This kind of unknowing is the more terrifying element in the film.”

Photo: Incantation trailer

On Playing the Cursed

Actors Tsai Hsuan-yen and Kao Ying-hsua shared that the filming is not as scary as what we see on screen, or at least they didn’t feel it as they were focused on making the film convincing to the audiences.

“When I was making the movie, I had two roles. I have to play the role, and at the same time, I needed to be the cameraman,” said Hsuan-yen. “So these roles kept me in balance on set. I tried to think about how to make it realistic and convincing in front of the camera.”

Photo courtesy of Netflix

Ying-hsua agrees, adding that he did get scared when he finally watched the movie.

“When I read the script, when I was on set, I wasn’t terrified or scared. I just tried to make it very convincing. We wondered how many people would believe that it is true, and it turned out many people do believe it is true. So it was surprising to me, when I watched the film, I also felt kinda scared as well. I also had nightmares after watching the film,” the actor said.

Treading Over Taiwan’s Taboos

While the film is fictional for the most part, the director and the cast also talked about how they were careful not to break real-life taboos when they were filming.

Photo courtesy of Netflix

“We do have a lot of customs and religious taboos in Taiwan, especially in filmmaking,” said Director Ko. “We did have a lot of rituals and ceremonies before the filming process. We also have religious advisers on site to make sure that we do not break into any Taoist taboos. Also after filming, we would check if everyone is fine.”

As for the actress Hsuan-yen, she shared that she went to a famous temple in Taipei and got an amulet which she carried around during and after the filming. Meanwhile, Ying-hsua responded with: “I got my Lord Jesus so I got nothing to fear.”

Photo: Incantation trailer

What were your reactions when watching Incantation on Netflix? Did you also avoid their “Hou-ho-xiu-yi, si-sei-wu-ma… Hou-ho-xiu-yi, si-sei-wu-ma… Hou-ho-xiu-yi, si-sei-wu-ma…” chant? You can share your thoughts about the film on or connect with us via  FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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