by John

When Haunted Changi hit theatres in 2010, an official website and a blog by the film crew was set up. Browse through the sites and you’ll see how “abandoned” some of the content is – just like an abandoned haunted house.

Also, thanks to the marketing hype, a Facebook page was created. To date, there are more than 237,000 fans. That is a phenomenal number for an independent project like this, if you ask us.

The 80-minute production is marketed as a collection of original footage taken by a four-member film crew who had the guts to explore the haunted Old Changi Hospital. If you aren’t in the know of the supernatural side of Singapore, this abandoned hospital located in the Eastern part of our island is an eerie building that is teeming with spine-tingling stories. This is, of course, no thanks to its reputation as a site during World War II where prisoners of war were captured and tortured to death. If you believe what eyewitnesses have to tell, spirits of different races and nationalities have been seen wandering around the compound.

Are you brave enough to keep your eyes peeled for unnatural elements captured on camera in the film? Would you be brave enough to sit through the entire duration of the horror movie, and not be spooked out after the movie?

The filmmakers are spot-on in choosing Old Changi Hospital as its subject. Just seeing the worn-out building on screen and thinking about the possible homeless spirits in there will send a shiver down your spine. When the camera zooms in on the graffiti and vandalism that have become part of the building, you’ll instantly create chilling mental images of the activities which have been carried out there.

And this is where the film works best, letting your imagination create the fear.

Trust this writer who has been on site for military exercises and location scouting – there is indeed an unexplainable forbidding force which no words can describe.

The filmmakers also use conventional tactics to scare viewers. Towards the end of the movie, there are some loud shocks which will leave the less brave viewers squirming in fear. Without giving away too much, let’s just say the plot involves some predictable encounters of the third kind.

Tony Kern (Afterimages) directs an ensemble cast (Andrew Lua, Sheena Chung, Farid Azlam, Audi Khalis) which does a decent job of acting freaked out. We are also impressed with the creatively effective editing. The brisk pacing is well kept – look out for a harrowingly claustrophobic sequence before the film ends to understand what we mean. Plus, considering that the footages are shot with a DSLR camera, kudos to the cameraman (in this case, it’s Khalis, if the production notes are to be believed).

With the advancement of technology in the last few years, the success of this movie should not be doubted. In Singapore, this production was a box office hit and grossed $500,000 at the box office. And you might find the marketing strategy reminding you of a little film 18 years ago named The Blair Witch Project. The 1999 movie made use of the Internet to suggest that the film was a real event – this is the same approach taken by the filmmakers of this independent production.

If you are still keen on finding out the truth behind Old Changi Hospital’s tales, you may be valiant and courageous enough to make a trip to the building where bloodcurdling memories reside.

Haunted Changi