Research Article

The Supernatural in Contemporary Philippine Horror Films


  • Dennis Primne Corbita Instructor of English, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Philippines
  • Maria Luisa S. Saministrado Professor of English, Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Philippines


This study examined the supernatural characters in the selected Filipino horror films from 2004-2009 and how their character traits, appearance, wants and desires enhanced the development of the plot through their actions. It explored as well different Filipino cultural practices portrayed in the films. Using the New Criticism Approach, the films were viewed several times to familiarize the researchers with the scenes, observe the supernatural characters’ description, and re-mark key statements to further substantiate the analysis done in the paper. The study found out that there are seven different supernatural characters present in the films. They are the ghosts, aswang, tiyanak, engkanto, demonyo, manananggal, and mangkukulam. The ghosts generally appeared with pale faces and dark smudges around their eyes. Although some engkantos looked connatural with the ghosts because of the similarity of their looks, they had reasons possessing pretty faces to lure the human characters. The tiyanaks, contrary to typical child demon, grew from babies to young children. They were kids aged nine to ten years old and they played outside in broad day light. The aswangs, on the other hand, remained in their human forms with sharp teeth. Unlike the archetypal aswang, the aswang in the movies acted on revenge for having been scorned at. The demons were greatly feared since they bring death to anyone they meet. The manananggal, who could sew his torso and the lower part of his body, refused to kill innocent people. Instead, he became a vigilante protecting the innocent and attacking and killing the bad folks. Two different characteristics of mangkukulam were portrayed in the films; the first type is a good mangkukulam who sought change and does not practice evil sorcery while the second type practiced black magic. The evil mangkukulams were typically the same. The study revealed that the supernatural characters’ desires and their actions propelled the plot. The main characters and protagonists oppose the forces of these supernatural characters mainly for survival and instinct. It has also been found out that the films reflect the strong affinity of the Filipinos towards superstitious beliefs.

Article information


Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Studies

Volume (Issue)

1 (4)





How to Cite

Corbita, D. P. ., & Saministrado, M. L. S. . (2019). The Supernatural in Contemporary Philippine Horror Films. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences Studies, 1(4), 48–81. Retrieved from



Supernatural characters, horror films, plot, antihero, Folklore, New Criticism