Netflix has scooped up the global streaming rights to Taiwanese horror blockbuster Incantation, which it will release worldwide on July 8. The film was released theatrically in Taiwan in March and has been described as the “scariest Taiwanese film ever.” So far, it has earned $5.7 million (TW$170 million) in cinemas, making it the highest-grossing film at the Taiwan box office this year, as well as the top-earning original Taiwanese horror film of all time.
“I’m really proud that Incantation is going to be released on Netflix globally, maximizing the number of people who can watch it,” said Kevin Ko, writer-producer-director of Incantation. “It has always been my dream to make films that travel around the world and are watched by every horror fan on Earth, keeping them awake at night. I can’t wait to hear viewers’ reactions.”
“Incantation has resonated strongly with Taiwanese audiences, and we are excited to share this movie with our members around the world,” said Janelle Ong, Netflix’s Chinese-language content acquisition manager. “Asian horror has been very influential in shaping the genre and bringing it to new heights, and we are proud to partner with a new generation of Asian filmmakers who are creating the movies that will define what terror means for today’s viewers.”
Inspired by a true story involving a family of cult worshippers in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the film was shot in a mockumentary style interspersed by found footage and actors breaking the fourth wall to address the audience. A critical as well as commercial hit, Incantation has received seven Taipei Film Award nominations including for best narrative feature, best director, and best actress. The Taipei Film Award winners will be announced on July 9, the day after the film’s Netflix global debut. A sequel also has been announced.
Incantation is the latest and most successful outing to date of Taiwan’s horror wave that began with director Cheng Wei-hao’s The Tag-Along in 2015, followed by The Rope Curse (2018), Detention (2019), and The Bridge Curse (2020). A substantial portion of the output in the genre is rooted in local folklore, urban myths, or superstition, giving them a unique Taiwan flavor. This year has been billed as “a year of terror” in Taiwan with many more scary movies slated for release. The growing popularity of the genre and consequent slew of productions has been credited with contributing to a rejuvenation of the film industry in Taiwan.
Netflix is now riding the horror wave, not just in Taiwan, but across Asia. From 2020 to 2021, the viewership of sci-fi and horror on Netflix in the Asia Pacific region has grown 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, according to the company. During its recent Geeked Week, the streamer announced on June 7 the second seasons of Korean series All of Us Are Dead and the Japanese series Alice in Borderland, as well as a new horror anthology series from Thailand called School Tales: The Series. Taiwanese output has become a growing pillar of Netflix’s Chinese-language library. In addition to the original Taiwanese series The Victims’ Game (2020) and Light the Night (2021), and horror films Incantation and The Bridge Curse, Netflix also recently began streaming high-end Taiwan-made films such as The Falls, Taiwan’s entry for the best international film Oscar in 2022, and Man in Love, the highest grossing film in Taiwan in 2021.