Film Review: ‘Pulau Hantu’2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
In case you haven’t got a clue to what the title means, it directly translates to Island of Ghosts. I guess this pretty much sums up the start and the end of this horror film set on an offshore island in Singapore.
Every other Singaporean would have heard a ghost story from their friend in National Service, or from a friend’s friend in National Service and the list goes on. Pulau Hantu vividly puts those stories in visuals with all that blood and killings. Like most or all ghost stories, the characters would first dismiss the myths until strange things start to happen — things beyond their control, and things that are beginning to control them instead. As the saying goes: “some things just can’t be explained”.
Other than the telling of a spooky tale, the films raises some socio-political issues as well. We see a multiracial cast, translating the multicultural and multilingual nature of Singapore. The patriarchal nature of the country is being refuted with the casting of a female superior leading a bunch of seeming macho man into the island on this supernatural escapade. There are a lot of examples that I could raise but I shall not attempt to turn this into a study of the film and its portrayal of socio-political issues.
Most horror films don’t actually display very much cinematography but in Pulau Hantu, there is an apparent display for cinematography and also editing techniques. The entire mise-en-scene is well crafted and explored to reach its potential. The border-less jungle adds to the entire atmosphere of being lost, and trying to find a way out. It also effectively contributes to the illusions that Pulau Hantu plays with, for both the characters and also the audiences. When does illusion enter the picture, and where does reality stop?
You have to pay attention and really watch the film to get to the bottom of things, as the twist is presented in a non-linear fashion. You will never know when things will be revealed to you, and by who. This keeps you rooted to your seat, and your eyes to the screen.
In reality, Pulau Hantu is actually a favoured location for fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling and even camping. The island’s beaches, lagoons and water makes it favorable for those who enjoys such sports. So well, it is actually pretty interesting for those who have been to Pulau Hantu to see a spooky Pulau Hantu, in fiction of course.
Overall, I’d think that the show is not exactly for people who have low threshold for horror. It is not as scary as the likes of Shutter, but nonetheless, the suspense and shock factor is enough to have your heart beating faster than usual. Like most horror flicks, the film ends with a “To Be Continued” tone, and from my knowledge, there is no sequel planned, but as the saying goes…