The Figure of the Nenek Kebayan and the Witch in Selected Haunted House Films

Ahmad Muhyiddin Yusof, Anita Harris Satkunananthan, Ruzy Suliza Hashim, NorLiyana Mohmad Rosli


This study analyses the Malay folkloric trope of the Nenek Kebayan and how this supernatural figure is connected to the Gothic trope of the haunted house in selected horror films. This study contends that the figure of the Nenek Kebayan is instrumental in the haunting effect of these homes. Three horror films have therefore been chosen to analyse the motif of the Nenek Kebayan and the haunted house which are Congkak (2005), Al-Hijab (2011) and additionally, the figure of the Nenek Kebayan is compared to the figure of the spectral Witch in The Conjuring (2013). In so doing, this study adapts the Structural Uncanny Haunted House Framework (SUHHF) as a theoretical framework. SUHHF is an Uncanny adaptation of Joshua Comaroff’s and Ong Ker-Shing’s concept of the architecture of horror. SUHHF focuses primarily on three aspects of the haunted house which are The Surmounted Corpse that provides insights to the external and internal layer of the house, The Hazardous Transition that explains the application of the transitional elements of the haunted house and finally the Trojan Compartment that reveals the secret spaces in the haunted house. Furthermore, filmic technique is deployed as a methodology to capture the moments of haunting by the Nenek Kebayan and her cognate, the Witch. The implication of this study to provide a deeper appreciation and understanding in regards to aspect of the Nenek Kebayan and the haunted house setting in the examined films.


Keywords: haunted house; Nenek Kebayan; hauntings; convergence; divergence; the Witch

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