Turkey’s low-budget horror films keeping country entertained - AFP

Turkey is seeing a boom in low-budget religious-themed horror movies, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on Saturday, despite the chokehold of an economic crisis.

This year, some 60 new homegrown horror movies hit the screens in Turkey, the agency said, citing industry members who maintain their popularity is sparked by a shift in Turkish society.

Over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s almost two-decades in power,  an increasing number of religious and secular Turks appear to have taken to “superstitious tales” that previously raised eyebrows, AFP said.

“The drive to brush aside superstition and come closer to science [of modern Turkey’s founders] began to regress in the late 1990s,” film critic Gizem Simsek Kaya told the agency. “Some Islamic tendencies and the rising tide of conservatism play a role in this.” 

Büyü (The Spell) in 2004 kicked off Turkey’s religious themed horror movie run, which was boosted by the launch of the large budget Dabbe series in 2006, it said.

Turkish horror films frequently centre around the death and jinns, spirits capable of appearing in human and animal forms and influencing humankind, according to Islamic teachings.

The latest string of horror films are show on low budgets and are far from being  cinematic masterpieces, according to screenwriter Özlem Bölükbaşı.

“The budgets and production values are not high,” she told AFP. “But do we still draw audiences? Yes, we do.” 

Huseyin Aydemir, who runs a local restaurant in Buyukorhan, near Bursa in northwestern Turkey, explained how entire tows become involved in the shooting of a film about an old man possessed by a jinn.

“A cemetery scene was shot here two days ago. The locals went to the scene hours before the film crew,” he said. “It’s fun. The whole town is here at the moment.”

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