Made-In-Singapore Movies To Watch Over Halloween
We are in the midst of Halloween season, and it’s the perfect time to get your spooky on. As a late October baby, I’ve always had a personal affinity for All Hallows Eve. It kind of explains why I’m such a horror buff and even spent my 30th birthday partaking in a haunted night walk.
If you’re not planning on dressing up and attending one of the many Halloween-themed parties this holiday, why not settle in and enjoy a horror movie marathon? Of course, you can revisit such Asian classics as Ju-On, The Ring, and Shutter or recent Hollywood hits like The Conjuring Universe.
However, I’d argue that we have a few horror film gems of our own, produced right here in Singapore. From ghostly tales set in army camps to supernatural folklore, here are some of our choice cuts for a stay-at-home fright night.
Plot: Set in the army barracks on Pulau Tekong, this supernatural horror film follows a group of soldiers faced with paranormal activities at midnight. You see, this is why you should go to sleep by Lights Out.
Stream it on: Amazon Prime
Who doesn’t love a good Army ghost story? Chances are, every recruit who’s undergone Basic Military Training (BMT) might have had one. Whether it’s doing guard duty, going to the toilet in the middle of the night, or going to field camp, there are a lot of opportunities for so-called ghostly beings to make their presence felt.
This 2011 movie stars Mark Lee and even spawned a 2018 sequel. The premise is simple enough - the vengeful spirit of a mad woman who died on the island right before midnight returns to haunt the camp.
While the scares are serviceable at best, the mystery that unfolds is rather intriguing. For NSmen like me, it almost feels relatable in a way, as though it were something that could have taken place during my NS days. For the record, I did enjoy this way more than Ah Boys To Men.
Plot: Set during the Hungry Ghost Festival, this supernatural horror film tells the story of a Filipino maid who discovers dark secrets about her Teochew employers and their past.
Stream it on: Netflix
I would deem this a Singapore horror classic. Directed by Kelvin Tong, the auteur perfectly captures life in the heartland back in the 2000s, while shining a light on the overlooked reality of a foreign domestic worker.
My favourite thing about the story was how it incorporates elements of the Hungry Ghost Festival as a plot device while blending it with a missing person mystery.
Revenge of the Pontianak - Malay language cross SG-Malaysia production
Plot: The classic retelling of the pontianak folklore, the plot takes place in 1965, against the backdrop of Malaysia and Singapore’s impending separation.
Stream it on: Netflix
Hollywood might have their horror icons like Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees. But here in Singapore, the pontianak is our undisputed scream queen.
The vengeful ghost of a woman who died during pregnancy childbirth, the titular role is played by the famous Malaysian actress, Nur Fazura.
This 2019 film was one of the highest-grossing local films of that year, which is no surprise given the star-studded cast and high production values.
One thing I loved about the film was its accurate depiction of 1960s Malaya in the midst of political strife. I wish they explored that narrative thread even more and weaved it into the Pontianak story. You know, like how they made a film about Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires, that would have been a cool premise to incorporate. But it’s still definitely a scary thrill ride for viewers.
Plot: Directed by Gilbert Chan and starring popular Channel 8 actors Chen Hanwei, Jayley Woo and Carmen Soo, the story centers around a toyol or undead infant that terrorises an unsuspecting family.
Stream it on: Disney+
The toyol is another well-known fixture in Southeast Asian mythology but it doesn’t seem to get as much love as the pontianak.
If done right, this devilish creature would make a riveting horror movie antagonist. Ghost Child almost gets the formula right by weaving in a family drama aspect to the story.
Think Pet Semetary or Annabelle. It’s an encouraging effort and hopefully more local filmmakers would take a stab at bringing the toyol to the big screens.
Late Night Ride
Plot: This uniquely Singaporean story is a horror anthology of sorts, with various tales of paranormal encounters on our public transport system.
Stream it on: Disney+
Have you ever watched videos of the bus driver on TikTok who drives the graveyard route along Lim Chu Kang Cemetery and thought, wow, that’s the perfect premise for a horror film?
The filmmakers of this feature probably gained inspiration from TikTok as it certainly has a Gen Z aesthetic.
One of the stories centers around a group of social media influencers who try to capture paranormal activities at a haunted park.
Another one is about a private hire driver who experienced sinister occurrences during her late night shift.
The scares and plot twist is compelling enough that it would probably stay on your mind the next time you take that last bus home. My advice, don’t go up the 2nd level of a double-decker bus at midnight, if you can help it.