Turn it off or she’ll cut it off

My first encounter with Darah was the little trailer reminding cinema-goers to turn off their handphones.

The short features a psychotic person with long dishevelled hair, looking like a cross between a drag queen and a pontianak, screeching hysterically as she swings a blade at an off-screen victim.

Big red bloody words appear on screen:


I rolled my eyes when I first saw it. It was the epitome of cheesy. It gave me the impression that Darah was a B-grade comedy horror.

Weeks after I saw the trailer, I met with Eric Khoo and learnt that he’s the executive producer for the film. I was surprised and a little disturbed.

Subsequently, he invited me to a special Darah screening. He said it’s a good movie so I decided to suspend all expectations and believe him.

The screening was held at the old Thumper Bar at Goodwood Park Hotel, which is currently undergoing major renovations so it looks really grungy and creepy.

Darah screening

Darah screening

It was quite dark in there. I didn’t even realise while I was there that the projecter was sitting on a blood-stained sheet.

Darah screening

Yes, even though I took this photo. And even though I actually sat in the front row that night. I didn’t notice the blood-stained sheet until I went home and saw my photos.

I did notice this blood-stained sheet covering the entrance to the bar, though.

Darah screening

I’m not blind. Really.

That night, I learnt that the lead actress in Darah had won an award for the film, which made me more curious to watch it. It was hard for me to reconcile the comically-crazed pontianak in the cheesy phone trailer with award-winning.

Darah screening
Eric Khoo gives a short speech before the screening.

Well, now that I’ve seen it, I’m declaring that the film is so far from being B-grade that I would give it a few extra As for good measure.



Darah follows a group of six friends who stumble upon a damsel in distress in the middle of nowhere, while on a road trip. Being do-gooders, they offer to give her a ride home.

Home is a big old creepy house in the middle of a thick, isolated jungle.

What follows is a prolonged night of senseless slaughter, sometimes in explosive carnage, sometimes in exquisite detail. The plot is not particularly unique and realistic, but I like how the film was executed.


Let me first say that Darah is possibly the goriest movie I’ve seen (I don’t see too many of them, though). It’s not for the weak-stomached. The lady next to me had to cover her eyes half the time. Me, I was clutching onto my handbag and jacket too tightly for the whole 90 minutes, making valiant efforts to stifle my screams.

The suspense build-up and roller-coaster teasing are chilling and thrilling. The cinematography is dramatic and artistic enough to prevent the film from being simply a gratuitous bloodfest. There is a lot of blood in the film. More than you can bear.

The actors are all brilliant. I can’t understand why they didn’t all get awards. I also learnt that the makeup and special effects were done by just one person, which makes it inexpressibly remarkable.


As an objective critic, I really, really liked the film.

As a scaredy cat, I was totally pulverised.

Darah is an Indonesian film (with English subtitles) by newbie filmmakers Mo Brothers. It’s called Macabre in other parts of the world. I think it’s only called Darah (which means blood) in Singapore because they found that too many Singaporeans can’t pronounce or doesn’t know the meaning of macabre.

It’s rated M18.


Thoughts on Female Games

I want to talk a bit about my movie, Female Games, today.

Here’s my Sinema interview:

Click to read.

Female Games is now showing at Sinema Old School, and will run till end August. Showtimes here.

After finally seeing it, I suppose I should warn you that it’s not for everyone. But then I was prepared for that. Kan (our director) told us from the start that his films have always been polarising. You either love them or hate them.


His films are the kind that win prestigious art film awards but the man in the street hates.

It’s a little different for Female Games. I think the word is: confusing. Confusion clouded my head the first time I saw it because the final edit changed everything I knew about the film when we were filming it.

I had trouble answering questions at the Q&A after the show because I was as shocked (and possibly dismayed) at the outcome of the film as the audience.

Photo from JayWalk’s blog.

There still is, of course, the expected love and hate reactions. But I get the impression that, on the whole, people don’t know whether to love or hate it.

Whatever the case, I don’t regret being in the film. Experience is priceless.

Cows at the temple

Animal activists might cry foul at this and I suppose I do feel a little sorry for the cows, but I can’t deny that I was quite delighted to see cows at the temple.

Cows at the temple

This photo was taken last Sunday night at Loyong Tua Pek Kong, where me and my friends went to start our Chinese New Year celebrations.

A pair of cows were brought in to usher in the Year of the Ox. (They do this every year, bringing in different animals each year.)

The temple was so crowded this year I almost hyperventilated.

The above photo is the only clear one I managed to snap of the cows before the crowd pushed in and blocked my view.

Cows at the temple

I think they were a bit traumatised. I mean the cows.

Loyang TPK

The crowd totally owned me.

The smoke from the joss sticks, too. I couldn’t stop crying.

Here’s the God of Wealth by proxy:

Loyang TPK

We kinda missed the deitifying ritual because it started early this year. It was total, total madness. Here’s the queue of people waiting to shake hands with the God of Wealth:

Loyang TPK

I didn’t hang around inside for too long. For some reason, there was no concert and no countdown this year, like they have every other year. So, after paying our respects in the temple, we escaped outside to eat ice cream.

That’s my favourite part of the celebrations every year. There’s always at least one ice cream man outside the temple selling traditional “home made” ice cream, the no-brand kind we used to eat when we were kids.

After the temple visit, we went to watch Ip Man at VivoCity.

Ip Man is really, really good. I never used to like Donnie Yen but now I do, although I think his hairstyle in the show is super dorky.

Ip Man

I feel the urge to learn Chinese martial arts all over again. Except I still don’t have the time to. =(

The movie ended at 4:30 am. I went to bed at 6:30 am. Fell asleep maybe 7:30 am.

Slept all the way till 3 pm!!

Haha. Did my first CNY visiting at 5:30 pm.

Except for the temple visit, CNY this year is pretty quiet for me.

Nine more days of Chinese New Year to go!! Still got chance to collect ang pow!

Happy CNY!

By the way, tomorrow is 人日, which is supposed to be everyone’s birthday. I can never understand this concept, but who cares. It’s the day when we are supposed to celebrate by eating yu sheng. Anything that involves yu sheng works for me!

So, happy birthday to you and me!

One rather large hot dog for sale

Flight of the Conchords is premiering tonight!!!

I almost forgot about it. It’s a new HBO TV series about a pair of wannabe singers from New Zealand trying to make a living peddling their songs in the USA.

Flight of the Conchords

I never watch TV. Who has time to watch TV? The only reason I’m plugging this series is because I was bribed by a hot dog.

Not just any hot dog.

A GIANT hot dog.

Flight of the Conchords

Alright, fine, it’s not that gigantic.

And it’s somewhat inedible.

But it’s still a RATHER LARGE hot dog… thingy… you have to give it that.

I wasn’t being serious, of course. For the record, I cannot be bribed with hot dogs, large or otherwise. So please do not try.

Flight of the Conchords

The real reason I’m plugging this TV series is because I KNOW YOU WATCH TV.

And you possibly might enjoy this show because it’s quite clever and funny. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie may look unassuming in photos but they really command the screen with their vacant expressions and monotonous speeches.

Flight of the Conchords

You wouldn’t think that people who generally take after dead fish in mannerisms could be funny but Jemaine and Bret are that.

Jemaine and Bret are really folk parody singer-comedians in real life, playing themselves in this fictionised version of their lives.

Here’s a video I found in YouTube of one of their live gigs. Funny!

I don’t know if this is the best video of them, but it was the first one I randomly clicked on and it’s funny enough.

We were force fed two episodes of Flight of the Conchords in the HBO Asia office last week. We were also force fed delicious quiches and mini burgers and pies and wine (but no hot dogs except for non-edible cardboard ones).

Flight of the Conchords

I could do with more of such force feeding.

And you could try watching Flight of the Conchords tonight and see if you don’t like it.

The humour is quite English — deadpan, sarcastic, irreverent. In other words, hilarious. Once in a while, the duo will break into song. The songs are painfully funny and audially pleasant.

The hot dog reference, by the way, comes from one of the jokes in episode 2.

And with regards to the title of this blog post, I’m taking bids starting at one McSpicy burger.

Well, I prefer burgers.

Flight of the Conchords premieres tonight on HBO at 10:30 am.

Thanks to Guorong for providing photos from the event and rescuing me from being sold to slavery by my taxi driver, and thanks to Timothy for his promise to make me a superstar when he becomes a hotshot director.

4BIA – Eerie, entertaining, delightful, scary

I’m delighted by my newfound courage to face and conquer a great nemesis that has plagued my life since the day I was old enough to understand the concept of fear.

For some reason I can’t adequately explain, I find myself suddenly no longer crippled by horror movies. The nights when I have to sleep with one eye open after watching a horror movie are over!

I was able to watch 4BIA with unreserved enjoyment after succeeding in psychoanalysing myself out of fear. Which is good, because 4BIA is as scary as it’s entertaining.

It’s a collection of four short films made by four illustrious Thai directors.

The story is that one of them latched upon an idea for a horror film, but realised that his material could only fill one short film, so he roped in three other directors to make a feature-length run with four short films.

I like that. It’s like watching episodes of The Twilight Zone. Each bite-sized tale is a surprise and leaves you with a sick feeling in your gut when it’s over.


Director Yongyoot Thongkongtoon (The Iron Ladies; M.A.I.D.; Metrosexual) kicks the anthology off with this silent horror.

A pretty young lady is grounded in her grimy apartment thanks to a broken leg. She’s lonely and bored and shuffles on a clutch restlessly between her desk and bed.

Then, a mysterious stranger sends her an SMS requesting friendship. After some cursory hesitation, she texts him back. A peculiar friendship bordering on puppy love develops over the next few days.

Alas, she is alone, crippled and stuck in a small, claustrophic apartment. And she obviously didn’t heed the age-old parental advice to never talk to strangers.

Actress Maneerat Kham-uan delivers a noteworthy, essentially solo, performance which raises your hackles in preparation for the next few shorts.

Tit for Tat

This tale explores the subject of black magic via a bunch of rebellious teenagers facing expulsion from school after being caught with weed. An act of cruel vengeance directed at their tattertale results in an explosive series of unfortunate incidents.

This is director Paween Purikitpanya’s second foray into horror after a successful run of Body #19. Tit for Tat has been described as an action horror, but I would say the action comes more from the schizophrenic camera work and jump-cut editing than from the actual action in the story.

I felt like I was watching an extended MTV. The actors are all beautiful and glamorous (even when drenched in sweat and blood). The shots are visually exciting. The edits are quick and in your face. The lighting is often stark and contrasting. The pace sets your heart pounding from start till end.

Unsurprinsingly, I later read this on the 4BIA website.

Paween’s background in music video perfects his visual smoothness, and he shows his talent in winding up screen tension with such spooky efficiency. “I prefer my films to be like rides in an amusement part, instead of being objects in a museum,” he says.

I actually enjoyed the cinematography and editing more than I enjoyed the story itself.

In the Middle

The third film provides refreshing relief after you’ve been put on edge for an hour. In the Middle is touted as a “comedy horror”. However, despite that tag, and despite the laughter from the audience, this short is no less scary than the first two.

This is the story of four young men on a rafting and camping trip. Scaring each other with ghost stories, one of them jokes that if he were to die on the trip, he would come back and haunt the person sleeping in the middle.

What do you know, he drowns the next day, thus setting the scene for some horror buildup.

Banjong Pisanthanakun (Shutter; Alone) directs this with an equal balance of comedy and horror, which is no easy feat. I mean, how can you feel fear when you’re laughing? This film shows you how.

Last Fright

A flight attendant is assigned to be caretaker of the body of the Princess of Khurkistan, who has suffered a sudden death and has to be flown first class back to her home country.

The body is seated in the first row of the plane, which is eerily empty save for Pim, the beautiful flight attendant, and two pilots in the cockpit. Pim has to make sure that nothing happens to the body during the flight.

But who’s going to make sure that nothing happens to Pim?

Director Pakpoom Wongpoom (also Shutter; Alone) made this film after learning that the royal dead cannot be transported in coffins and have to be seated like regular living people, leading him to wonder what horror could happen on a plane with a dead body sitting around in plain sight.

Being the most visually frightening of the lot, this classic horror very nicely rounds up the anthology. In fact, it was so frightening that Sabrina and Pris ran off 10 minutes into the film and never came back.

Methinks the title is very apt.

I watched 4BIA at the Blog Aloud series by Golden Village, where we got to meet the four directors as well as two members of the cast.

Left to right:
Maneerat Kham-uan (Actress – Happiness)
Paween Purikitpanya (Director – Tit for Tat)
Parkpoom Wongpoon (Director – Last Fright)
Kantapat Permpoonpatcharasuk (Actor – In the Middle)
Banjong Pisanthanakun (Director – In the Middle)
Youngyooth Thongkonthun (Director – Happiness)

Director Paween Purikitpanya told the audience that if everyone likes their film, they would make a 4BIA 2.

Well, I would really love to see a sequel, so please support this film!