Muslim Horror Festival Halaloween Announces “Scary Good” Film Lineup

Halaloween, the first ever Muslim horror film festival, screens horror films from across the globe that were made by, for or about Muslims. The festival has been hosted annually since 2019 by the University of Michigan’s Global Islamic Studies Center.

Event poster for Halaloween, the fourth annual Muslim horror film festival.
Halaloween is the only festival to focus on the topics that frighten Muslim audiences and creators, showcasing how the horror genre fits into many different cultures.

What scares Muslim audiences? Are horror movies halal? These are the questions posed every October by Halaloween, the first ever Muslim horror film festival. Halaloween screens horror films from across the globe that were made by, for or about Muslims. The festival has been hosted annually since 2019 by the University of Michigan’s Global Islamic Studies Center.

“All of our films are set in the Muslim-majority world,” Aliyah Khan, a professor at the University of Michigan, told NPR. “They all have directors who identify as Muslim and that have some kind of Muslim ethos while also being identifiably horror.” 

This year, Halaloween will take place both in-person and online, screening one film per week starting Oct. 10 and culminating in two in-person screenings at Ann Arbor’s State Theatre on Oct. 24 and 31. The festival is free to attend, but the hosts recommend reserving tickets, as some films may not be available in certain countries. The films screened will be unlocked online each week of October and will be available to watch for one week. “We are inclusive of everyone's film needs,” the hosts say on the Halaloween event page. “From new horror fans who close their eyes through most scary movies, to those who love the gore — we've got films for everyone.” Accordingly, the festival has provided horror ratings for each film so viewers know how frightening the films will be ahead of the screenings.

Below, find the lineup for Halaloween: A Muslim Horror Film Festival 2023. Descriptions have been derived from the event site.

“Satan's Slaves 2: Communion” (2022), Oct. 10

“Satan's Slaves 2” (Indonesian: “Pengabdi Setan”) is a 2022 Indonesian gothic horror film written and directed by Joko Anwar. The film, a sequel to “Satan’s Slaves” (2017), follows a poor family who continues to be haunted, no matter where they move. Several years after a terrible incident cost the family their mother and youngest sibling, Rini and her siblings Toni and Bondi live with their father in an apartment. They believe living in an apartment with many people is the best way to stay safe, but soon realize there is danger in not knowing your neighbors. On a night full of terror, Rini and her family must save themselves.

Halaloween Horror Rating: 4/5. Gothic and folk horror film directed by Indonesian master of horror Joko Anwar. Contains jump scares, creepy kids, dead body horror, blood and gore, corpses, hauntings, illness, death and cults.

“Sijjin 3: The Forbidden Love” (2016), Oct. 17

In Alper Mestçi’s “Siccîn 3: Love” (2016), siblings Sedat and Kahder grow up and live a happy life with their childhood friend Orhan. But when the siblings are involved in a terrible car accident, Orhan's faith and sanity are put to the test when he makes a deal with the devil, all in the name of love.

Halaloween Horror Rating: 3/5. Contains jump scares, body horror, corpses, jinn, black magic, spells and sex. 

“Cairo Conspiracy” (2022), Oct. 24

In “Cairo Conspiracy” (2022) by Tarik Saleh, Adam, the son of a fisherman, is offered the privilege to study at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a center of power of global Sunni Islam. Adam then becomes an unwitting pawn in a conflict between Egypt's religious and political elites.

Halaloween Horror Rating: 2/5. Includies eeriness, murders, psychological tension, the political Egyptian state’s relationship to religion, religious figure corruption.

“Tiger Stripes” (2023), Oct. 31

Amanda Nell Eu’s “Tiger Stripes” (2023) features 12-year-old Zaffan, the first girl amongst her friends to hit puberty, who discovers a terrifying secret about her body. Ostracized by her community, Zaffan fights back, learning that to be free she must embrace the body she fears.

Halaloween Horror Rating: 4/5. Body horror, blood and menstrual horror, female coming-of-age horror, corrupt religious figures, gendered body horror, posthuman transformation. Reminiscent of the films “Carrie” (1976) and “Ginger Snaps” (2000).

Halaloween is cosponsored by the University of Michigan’s African Studies Center, Arab and Muslim American Studies, Asian Languages and Cultures, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum, Department of American Culture, Department of Film, Television, and Media, Institute for Research on Women & Gender, Middle Eastern Studies Department and Women's and Gender Studies Department, as well as AMC’s horror streaming service Shudder.

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