This movie stars Nathan Hartono, his razor jawline, porcelain skin and ultra-lean physique. Oh, and there’s a couple of local Channel 8 actors in there somewhere. This about sums up the impact the actors display on we-shall-call-it-a-movie When Ghost Meets Zombie.
Truth be told, Wawa Picture’s relative success on the tube does not translate well to the big screen, at all. The cobbled effort loses steam frequently, and attempts at reviving the story engine lacks any commitment or vision. Leveraging on familiarity and a hackneyed style, the company delivers a patchwork of acts that really is a rinse-and-repeat. No wonder it ends at a laundromat.
Hartono is Pong, an ancient Thai hero, who along with five other strong men, saved his fellow villagers from drowning during a flood. Bronze statues were made in their honour, but a Singaporean girl Zhen Zhen (Ferlyn G) discovers that they are actually zombies controlled by a taoist priest (Gurmit Singh). A random act of kindness kills Zhen Zhen, so she possesses Pong, smuggles into Singapore, then joins a male beauty pageant so that she can fulfil her lifelong dream and reincarnate.
Support local talent, they say. But if we constantly sell out just to get a notch in our belt, and rehash mediocre stories with no vested interest, there’s really no talent to speak of. And if our local actors continue to act like they are performing in a primary school play, then we’ll never be moved.
Lead actress Ferlyn J exemplifies this weighted method, to dire consequences. As a rough-around-the-edges feisty girl, her heart of gold and inspirational message of the importance of purpose, becomes an empty spiel that quickly becomes annoying. Which makes those scenes where she shares her anthemic message, all the more awkward and cringey. The script here, is terribly out-of-touch. Let’s not even bring up Gurmit Singh, who pretty much repeats one line throughout the film.
What. The. Hell. If you’re already snorting, I’m with you. Reading the intended synopsis, what was to be a quirky supernatural romantic comedy has become an epic failure of a lame-fest. There’s definitely whiffs of a korean or taiwanese quirky drama with Hong Kong cinema’s habit of throwing personality cameos in a festive film, but When Ghost Meets Zombie has zero charm for the former, and zero star power for the latter. As Chen Tianwen aptly puts it in one scene, the plot and credibility, is “unbelievable”. Oh yeah, there’s even ads.
Or more precisely, product placements done so boldly, it might as well be. And we all know how we feel about intrusive sell in our entertainment. Boo. If you thought Jack Neo was bad…
The only saving grace, is Hartono’s unaffected performance – hilarious given that he is a stone-faced zombie. While everyone’s acting is stuck in the 80s, Hartono’s naturalistic acting is the only thing to look forward to in the scenes. The lad has comedic timing, and a magnetic presence that effortlessly holds attention. Even when doing a cheesy performance for a karaoke skit, he does it with a self-awareness that gives him the quality that modern stars are made of.
Wawa pictures can add another wa to their name, because this film is definitely a wawawa.
Very simply, horrifying. It’s a simplistic, childish production, and even if tongue-in-cheek is meant, the film is completely silenced by a hackneyed script and terrible performances.
First published: www.movieXclusive.com