METAMORPHOSIS (FILM REVIEW)

South Korea is really gunning for their own Exorcist hit. From TV titles like The Guest (2018) to movies like The Priests (2015), The Wailing (2016), House of the Disappeared (2017), and most recently, The Divine Fury (2019) and Netflix’s, Svaha: The Sixth Finger (2019), it seems that the priest protagonist remains as enigmatic as…

REVENGE OF THE PONTIANAK OR DENDAM PONTIANAK (FILM REVIEW)

Probably one of the most enigmatic and popular supernatural entity in this region, the pontianak is to Southeast Asia what Sadako is to Japan.  Based on popular mythology, she is the ghost of a woman who died pregnant or during childbirth, and boy is she angry! Appearing as a beautiful woman to lure victims to…

SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK (FILM REVIEW)

“Why she so curious?” “I thought she returned the book?” “Why they return to the house?” To a movie reviewer, nothing is scarier than a viewer who needs to verbalise her mind. And to the teenage girl in question, the answer to all of your question is: Because this is a movie, so just watch…

BINDING SOULS (FILM REVIEW)

I used to study in a pre-war school, and so as you might guess, the grounds were filled with stories. The fact that actual riots and war heroes were part of its history made it all the more compelling. So haunted school plots have a particular relevance to me, especially when they involve unspoken topics,…

LOOKING UP (FILM REVIEW)

There’s no punches pulled here – Looking Up is a China-made film, replete with pride-stirring messages that can be seen as gentle nostalgia or shameless propaganda. If you can set that all aside, there’s a couple of universal themes here at play which might be of more interest. Ma Fei (Bai Yu) is one of…

THE DEAD DON’T DIE (FILM REVIEW)

Let’s be clear here: You’ll either love this movie for all its cleverness (because you’re that savvy zombie genre fan – especially for Romero – and geeks out at inside references), or you’ll be like the rest of us – a little bored and cheated. To say The Dead Don’t Die is indulgent is about…

ANNABELLE COMES HOME (FILM REVIEW)

Slowly but surely, James Wan is building and reinforcing his horror legacy. Since the success of The Conjuring, the skillful director has extended his universe significantly, even crossing over to areas which we wouldn’t have expected. (Aquaman and Shazam!) It goes to show the pop culture appeal and power of his creations, and leading the…

DEATH WHISPER (FILM REVIEW)

Well, someone’s a big fan of the Korean Whispering Corridors. From the rotating Hangeul characters during the opening credits to the gift of the actual film DVD to a student on campus, DEATH WHISPER makes no qualms about where it takes inspiration from. This remake by Awi Suryadi bears many references to the original in…

GRETA (FILM REVIEW)

In the vein of psycho-stalker thrillers like Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, and Misery, Neil Jordan directs Ray Wright’s script of a tale of obsession set in the bustling streets of New York. Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) is the city newbie, getting adjusted to the lifestyle after the passing of her mum. Spotting an abandoned…

MATA BATIN 2 (FILM REVIEW)

Director Rocky Soraya is back with chapter two of his Mata Batin film series, and for those that enjoyed his first outing, you’ll find more of the same in this episode. This means big sets, big houses, and big acting, along with a crazy soundtrack that refuses to die. You can probably already tell I’m…

PET SEMATARY (FILM REVIEW)

Stephen King’s IT reboot was a phenomenal success. So it’s only natural for directors Kevin Kolsh and Dennis Widmyer to feel a little pressured when resurrecting PET SEMATARY – arguably one of Stephen King’s darkest titles. On top of box office and fan expectations, Kolsh-Widmyer has the difficult task of keeping the film fresh, as…

ARCTIC (FILM REVIEW)

Filled with more snow than script, Joe Penna’s Arctic strips the survival film genre to its bare essentials, but bolstering that skeleton with a rich performance from its main character. Danish Mads Mikkelsen gives his all in his role as Overgard, a pilot stranded in the arctic region after a crash. Presumably. I say that…

FIVE FEET APART (FILM REVIEW)

It’s an almost unshakeable formula – a doomed romance featuring a character with a chronic disease is sure to turn the taps on. So, I guess if having one character doomed to die makes viewers bawl, imagine two! In the line of terminal romance tear-fests like A Walk to Remember, Midnight Sun, and (most similarly)…

EXTREME JOB (FILM REVIEW)

It felt like somebody’s birthday party. Plus there’s fried chicken. Between the snacks crackling and the people chuckling, the atmosphere at the premiere was buzzing with cheer. I haven’t witnessed such an easy sense of mirth at a screening for years now, no doubt helped by the continuous rain of laughter at the antics onscreen….

VIRAL (FILM REVIEW)

Viral is really an updated version of The Ring, but minus the finesse and scares. In the midst of playing an augmented game called Ghost Hunt, Tang (Ploy Sornarin) captures a spirit photo and excitedly shares it with her friends. One by one, they start seeing the female ghost in their environment. Supposedly. The thing…

MOJIN: THE WORM VALLEY (FILM REVIEW)

I found it mildly amusing that the director’s name (Fei Xing) can literally be translated to “do not cross here”, because quite frankly, it’s almost like a warning to his production. The Mojin franchise is based on the bestselling novels of Zhang Muye, about the colourful adventures of three tomb robbers that seek out legendary…

BURIED ALIVE (SUZZANNA: BERNAPAS DALAM KUBUR) (FILM REVIEW)

Asian spirits frighten because their appearances always allude to a terrifying cause of death. In the case of the sundel bolong from Javanese folklore, it is a woman with long flowing hair which covers a bloody hole in her back. It is believed that they were those who got pregnant out of wedlock, and died…

KUNG FU MONSTER (FILM REVIEW)

Remember that old saying about cooks and broth? Kung Fu Monster is an excellent demonstration of this proverb. Rife with a cast that vies for screen time, the script trips over itself with its littering of superfluous side comments. Assembling a motley of knavish characters, the effect becomes even worse, as they throw liners that…

THE DEVIL FISH (FILM REVIEW)

Urban legends have a way of getting under our skin, primarily because they draw their horror from the familiar. Shared over lunch or gone viral on social media, these modern lore stay in limbo – suspended between reality and the supernatural, as people debate their authenticity. Like the popular Tag-Along franchise, The Devil Fish is…

INTIMATE STRANGERS (FILM REVIEW)

The smartphone changed our lives forever. And as a character remarks in Intimate Strangers, it’s like a black box of its owner, full of messages, emails and media they’ve collected. So is it any surprise that the content within might shock some of our closest friends or loved ones? An adaptation from the 2016 Italian…

THE ROPE CURSE (FILM REVIEW)

A suicide is tragic enough, but there’s something extra about the image of a hanging body that never fails to chill one to the bone. So it’s not surprising that in parts of Fujian and Taiwan, that a ritual has been created to combat the horror of a person hanging by choice. It is given…

HELLO, MRS. MONEY (FILM REVIEW)

It’s got the twisted mishaps of Hangover, the misdemeanor of Ted, and just a touch of that Crazy Rich Asian OTT display – except all wrapped up and tied with a Mainland Chinese bow on top. Hello, Mrs Money is a non-stop madcap riot, milking each unfortunate scenario made by bad decisions. And given how…

HELL FEST (FILM REVIEW)

The film gets one thing right – the sets. Otherwise, Hell Fest is really Halloween (including a very Michael Myers killer) without the gumption, impact or style. Horror films are not known for character development. But Hell Fest tests the boundaries of how much they can take with a crew of horror-film cliches. There’s the…

DOWN A DARK HALL (FILM REVIEW)

The movie establishes itself quickly. Angsty female lead. Gothic mansion. The classic “that area is out of bounds” line. 20 minutes in, you’ll find that Down A Dark Hall has a familiar tone to it. The way it introduces the characters, their relationships, some snappy cliches, and a painfully coerced romantic storyline – you have…

SHOPLIFTERS (FILM REVIEW)

If ever there was an ensemble movie where everyone pulled their weight, this would be it. Shoplifters is a rare example combining flawless cast chemistry with expert role distribution. And between them, a moving story unfolds. Director, writer and editor Hirokazu Kore-eda steals the heart of audiences stealthily, with vignettes drifting lazily along offering slice-of-life…

DANUR 2: MADDAH (FILM REVIEW)

Horror films. We walk in knowing what to expect. Jump scares, horrifying ghouls, the occasional blood or gore, creepy sets, all shrouded in dim lighting and anticipatory soundtrack. And Danur 2: Maddah checks these boxes, if almost a little too hastily. Amidst all the frantic action in the film, it seems that Director Awi Suryadi…

BURNING (FILM REVIEW)

In this world, there is Little Hunger and Great Hunger. Little Hunger is when someone is physically hungry. And Great Hunger is when a person yearns for the bigger answers, like the meaning of life, shares Haemi (Jun Jong-Seo), the female protagonist of Burning. Director Lee Chang-dong is renowned for tackling the Great Hunger in…

I KILL GIANTS (FILM REVIEW)

“I find Giants. I hunt Giants. I. Kill. Giants.” And there summises the objective of our little heroine, Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe). The girl is a little of an outcast at school, visually represented by a headband with bunny ears (to better connect with her spirit animal) and behaviorally with her sharp retorts and solo…

UNSANE (FILM REVIEW)

An expert at the human condition, Steven Soderbergh launches a new psychological thriller Unsane – shot in secret in 2017 – and surprises with a gritty, experimental tale that challenges the mental faculties of both characters and audience alike. Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) is the company’s new data analyst. New to the city, she digs…

THE THIRD EYE / MATA BATIN (FILM REVIEW)

While 2017 was a fast crop year for Indonesian horror, one can expect duds as well as hits in the buffet mix from our southern neighbour. The Third Eye sits somewhere in between. It’s a project with ambitious goals – as one can certainly tell from its inspiration from western horror classics, but that is…