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Monday, October 29, 2012

I talk about horror films, ghosts, and Woo Ming Jin's short film DOUBLE (The Star, 26th of October, 2012)

Last week, just before I returned to Tokyo, I did an email interview with Phyllis Ho of R.AGE (the weekly youth section of The Star) about Woo Ming Jin's DOUBLE (which I co-wrote, produced and edited), and also horror films in general. I assume it's for Halloween. The article came out a few days ago.

Candy Lee in DOUBLE

Here's my part:

Ever watched a horror movie and think to yourself – which sick freak came up with this? Who comes up with these dark, terrifying stories for a living, and why do they do it?

Well if you have, today’s your lucky day (though some would say we just jinxed it). We found a few horror storytellers just to get a glimpse into why they do what they do, how they do it, and why people keep coming back for more of the horror they have to offer.

First up is award-winning Malaysian filmmaker Edmund Yeo, 28, who was hand-picked by the YOMYOMF YouTube network to write and produce a horror film in conjunction with Halloween.

The movie, Double, which Yeo made together with fellow filmmaker Woo Ming Jin, is part of YOMYOMF’s “Silent Terror Anthology”, made specifically to scare the daylights out of YouTube users this Halloween.

You won’t hear many people saying this, but for Yeo, the experience of watching a horror movie is a “weird and beautiful feeling”.

“The appeal of horror movies comes from the fact that it taps right into our primal emotion of fear. It can be such an engrossing experience. Especially in the cinema, when you are screaming together with other audience members, you are sharing some very private emotions with strangers around you,” he says.

Double stars local beauty Carmen Soo and newcomer Candy Lee, and the entire film is shot without any dialogue, and the everything happens during the day.

The “fun” in making a horror film, says Yeo, is playing with the audience’s perception.

“I think it is more disturbing when you can see our protagonist, a secondary school student, committing a gruesome murder in broad daylight. Nothing more is left to your imagination,” he says.

The actual article is here, worth a read because it also features interviews with a few others, including a ghost hunter!

Because of the length of the article, some stuff from the original interview were excised. So I'm sharing my full answers on this blog instead.

(On working on the horror genre for the very first time.)

"It's quite a challenge, because I've never done anything like this before! My previous works as a director were usually melancholic tales of longing and loss. Even though I had ghosts appearing in my films, they functioned more as metaphors or symbols than to serve up scares!

My filmmaking partner Woo Ming Jin, on the other hand, has had experiences with horror films. He directed a "found footage" horror film called Seru last year, and also the upcoming KL Zombie.

So we hoped that blending our talents together would lead us to very interesting results."


(On how we got our inspiration for the film.)

"By going through a lot of horror films from the past. We were inspired by older psychological horror films like Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" and Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining". Our intention was to make an existential horror film that veers away from some genre conventions. Most horror films are shot at night, or in darkness, we decided to make a film bathed entirely in beautiful sunlight. I think it is more disturbing when you can actually see our protagonist (played by Candy Lee as a teenager, and by Carmen Soo as an adult), a secondary school student, committing a gruesome murder under the broad daylight. Nothing more is left to your imagination."

(On whether the cast and crew faced any supernatural encounters or unusual happenings during the shoot)

"Thankfully, none of that happened! The shoot lasted only for two days, we were surprised by how smooth it went. In fact, we were laughing and joking the whole time, and worked mostly in a leisurely, relaxing pace. If you had visited our film set, you would have thought that we were doing a comedy instead of a brutal horror film."

(On what I think of local chinese horror legends like the hungry ghost, water ghost, "jiang shi" (chinese vampire) etc and whether I believe in their existence)

"I think most legends have had some basis in fact, the passing of time may have made them sound improbable, but I wouldn't be surprised if something supernatural or miraculous had happened in the past that started these legends and folklores. We live in an interesting world anyway."

(On whether I loved listening to ghost stories when I was young and whether I was frightened by them.)

As a child, I was quite a voracious reader of horror books written by RL Stine and Christoper Pike (and later, Stephen King), not all of them were that scary, but quite a few managed keep me awake at night!

(On why I think people love watching horror movies?)

In my opinion, the appeal of horror movies comes from the fact that it taps right into our primal emotion of fear. You watch comedies to laugh, you watch horror movies to feel scared. It can be such an engrossing experience. Especially in the cinema, when you are screaming together with other audience members, or laughing nervously, you are sharing some very private emotions with strangers around you. It's a weird and beautiful feeling.



In case you still haven't seen DOUBLE, here you go.


You can even choose the view all four films of the SILENT TERROR anthology here now that they have all been uploaded!

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