Sunday, 21 August 2016

Ghost island

Made in Singapore but shot in English, TV movie Pulau Hantu (2008) – trans: ‘Ghost Island’, is released on DVD in the UK as CURSE. Directed by Esan Sivalingam, it is set on a now unpopulated isle where a village was ruled by a corrupt medicine man whose predations led to his rape victim, and her daughter, being buried alive. In the present day, we see an army squad arrive via boat to search the island for AWOL soldiers. The troops are attacked, repeatedly, by an invisible enemy. “This is not happening!” keens one man, and he’s not even wounded.  

Reminiscent of Korean military–horror, Ghosts Of War (R–Point, 2004), Curse focuses on mortal fears in the drab jungle/ forest as night falls, suddenly, signalling the presence of dark forces. Suspicion and paranoia results in frightened soldiers shooting each other in a cluttered and, ultimately, very confusing storyline not helped by inter–cutting with the lone survivor (although he’s not the only one, we find) in army debriefing interviews after the mission has failed.

Having uncovered crimes (a ‘mass suicide’, apparently) of the past, the intruders here must learn that simply re–burying evidence will not make the supposedly evil forces go away. Badly made on video, with colourless imagery and some clumsy editing, this lacks even an ounce of the sinister heavyweight edginess that is required for strong atmosphere in a rural ghost story. 

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