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23:59 #FilmReview

An army recruit was found dead during a 24km road march. After the death of the recruit, strange things started to happen, haunting all the soldiers in the barracks.

23:59 movie cover

Starring: Tedd ChanStella ChungPhilip Hersh 

Runtime: 1h 18m | Release Date: 2011 – November – 3 | Country: Singapore | Language: Mandarin | Triggers: Suicide | Source: Self-purchase

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23:59 Review

This was my first horror film out of Singapore. From the onset, I noticed the production was of a decent quality as was the acting, despite not being a big budget film. Bring me horror from somewhere new with evil things I have never heard of before!

A group of young recruits on a military base located on an island are sitting around their flashlights telling ghost stories. The island is said to be inhabited by an evil spirit, a kuntilanak (woman that dies while pregnant). Not only are there supernatural spirits here, but also the spirits of those that commit suicide. They say, if you die at 23:59, you will forever be trapped to wander after your death. After one of the recruits dies during a night march through the jungle, strange occurrences begin to happen for everyone to see after they laughed him off for saying something was after him. Is it just the ghosts of the dead or someone causing this to happen?

During the beginning credits, sketches that resemble storyboards flash across the screen. I wish this was the tale, or at least incorporated more of the drawings. A lady holding her own head so she can brush her hair? Freaky! This sets you up for something cool and I wish they had followed through. However, I think it was just to give you a taste of the horror experienced from the ghosts of 23:59. Loved the opening with the recruits gathered round trying to scare each other. The oral tradition and urban/folk legends are my jam, but it slows down after that with the scares not very scary. When you finally do see the antagonist, it is creepy, not Ringu scary.

Something else is happening I didn’t expect. It showed men feeling scared and vulnerable, most of them not much older that nineteen. You do see the contrast with those exhibiting toxic masculinity. Yes, it has the stereotypical bully vs. the weakling with another playing protector. Yet, I couldn’t help to feel I haven’t seen this level of male distress in a while. The leader is so fearful of the march at night, he gives them all a talisman to carry. I can relate to this because in my culture, the fear of the supernatural is very real. The spirit world is something to be heeded even though it is dismissed as old pagan superstition.

Another interesting element is you see male possession. Why is it that it is always females getting possessed in film and books? Are we perceived to be that much weaker?
I would give this film a 3.5 because although it was enjoyable and different, it did not make use of all the potential to be way scarier. This could have scared the pants off of me. It also dragged in points which isn’t good when the film is subtitled. If you want something different, give it a go.

Published inMovie Reviews
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