The Horror Zine Review
A Film by Andrew Lau
Director: Andrew Lau
A Film by Andrew Lau
Review by Jeani Rector
If ever there were a place that looks haunted, it would be the Changi Hospital in Singapore, which is the subject of this film. I am not exaggerating when I say that viewing different angles of the Changi is a real creep-fest. This building is one scary place, looming really large and having strange corridors jutting out into the overgrown landscape at odd angles.
Which makes it the perfect choice for the film Haunted Changi. The Changi building was invaded by the Japanese in World War II and executions (and probably tortures) were held there. After the war, it was used as a psychiatric hospital and then abandoned in 1997.
The movie begins with four filmmakers who are watching a documentary someone else made about the haunted Hospital which ends abruptly. The four filmmakers then decide to spend a day and a night at the Changi Hospital to figure out what happened and perhaps finish the story themselves.
Once they reach the Changi Hospital, I cannot stress enough to you how scary that place is. Now marred with graffiti and broken windows on the outside, it has corridors and hidden rooms and mysterious open shafts on the inside going to.....where? The minute you see the Changi Hospital, there is no doubt in your mind that this is a horror film.
And then it begins to rain...not fake rain but the real thing. Of course that adds to the tension just because it creates a mood. A nice touch is the close-up of a puddle inside the building that starts to flow along the floorboards. And what is that shadow on the wall, captured on film, showing a figure without a head?
When their first visit is over, the four filmmakers decide they want to find ghosts and solve some mysteries, so they wind up going back to the Changi Hospital. Their initial plan to spend a day and a night turns into three months of visits.
Ever since The Blair Witch Project, it is becoming a sub-genre to make movies in a documentary style with a hand-held camera. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't. Haunted Changi works because of the acting.
As filmmakers, the actors are playing themselves. They include Andrew Lau (director and first lead character), Sheena Chung (producer and second lead character), Farid Azlam (the guy in the dreads who does camera), and Audi Khalis (also a cameraperson).
All the acting in Haunted Changi is very good, but the standout is Sheena Chung. Her performance is so natural and believable that I was convinced everything she did was real. She helped me get into the movie and I felt like I was part of the film crew while they explored what is probably the creepiest place on earth.
The interaction between the characters flows nicely, and from time to time there are even instances of humor. That works because it tends to be human nature to make jokes when one is nervous.
As I said, all of the acting is very good to excellent, but except for Chung who sounds fairly American, the other cast members have strong accents. So as an American, sometimes I would miss what they are saying even though they are speaking English. I wonder if it might have been better if they had spoken in their native dialect and then used subtitles.
Still, the real star of the film is the Changi Hospital. Yes, I know what you are thinking: Enough about the Hospital. You think I am going on and on about it. But this is why: once the movie veers away from the Hospital, it spends too much time with the filmmakers back in their office going over the film footage they had previously shot. Even Sheena Chung's character notices this, for she comments, "Enough of filming us here!" I have to agree.
The other criticism I have is I feel that towards the end, once Andrew's character falls in love with an apparition, the movie spends way too much time in staircases and dark corridors. Andrew Lau is searching for his phantom, and Farid Azlam, holding the camera, follows him going up and down staircases and through dark corridors for an absurdly long time. Ninety percent of those scenes should have been edited out.
But considering Haunted Changi overall, this movie has its moments of genuine frights. Its audience is intended for those that enjoy the hand-held documentary type sub-genre. If you are a guy who wants your lady-friend to hold on to you very tightly, turn off the lights and show her Haunted Changi. This is a scary film.
See the movie here:
About the Director
Andrew Lau was born on September 16th, 1984 in Singapore. Haunted Changi is his first feature film.
About the Reviewer
While most people go to Disneyland while in Southern California, Jeani Rector went to the Fangoria Weekend of Horror there instead. She grew up watching the Bob Wilkins Creature Feature on television and lived in a house that had the walls covered with framed Universal Monsters posters. It is all in good fun and actually, most people who know Jeani personally are of the opinion that she is a very normal person. She just writes abnormal stories. Doesn’t everybody?
Jeani Rector is the founder and editor of The Horror Zine and has had her stories featured in magazines such as Aphelion, Midnight Street, Strange Weird and Wonderful, Macabre Cadaver, Ax Wound, Horrormasters, Morbid Outlook, Horror in Words, Black Petals, 63Channels, Death Head Grin, Hackwriters, Bewildering Stories, Ultraverse, Story Mania, Lost Souls, All Destiny, and many others. Her novel Around a Dark Corner was released in the USA on Graveyard Press in 2009.