Director: Lee Thean-Jeen
Cast: Jessica Liu, Jacko Chiang, Liu Ling Ling, Shawn Tan, Yang Tian Fu, Jennifer Ebron, Xue Ting, Timothy Law, Eelyn Kok
RunTime: 1 hr 25 mins
Rating: PG13 (Horror)
Released By: Clover Films & Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 8 January 2015
Synopsis: When her seven-year-old son dies in a tragic road accident, a grieving mother, Jia En (Jesseca Liu), seeks the help of her former caregiver, Mdm Seetoh (Liu Ling Ling), to bring back his soul so he can be ‘by her side’ at home. However, after several strange and deadly occurrences in the house, she begins to suspect that there is something amiss with the soul she has brought back. In discovering what has really happened, she unravels the horrific truth … a truth which may cost her her life and the lives of those around her.
Bring Back the Dead is the latest local horror film based on a short story by local story writer Wong Swee Hoon. The movie is both directed and written by veteran writer-director Lee Thean-Jeen. He is active in both television and film making since the 2000. Setting out with a direction of delivering a horror movie that is built on an emotional core, Bring Back the Dead is more than a regular supernatural horror movie.
Jesseca Liu plays the role of Jia En, who has suffered some form of trauma since witnessing her mother’s death when she was young. This memory starts to haunts her back as she lost her only child to an unfortunate road accident. In desperate hopes to ‘keep’ the child, she looks to her past babysitter Mdm Seetoh (Liu Ling Ling) for help. Mdm Seetoh refers her to a medium who is said to be able to bring back the dead. However, while religiously following the instructions given by the medium, something still seems to be amiss – is the spirit really Xiao Le (Shawn Tan)? Jia En’s suspicion and paranoia grows as the story takes a dramatic turn.
Unlike most horror films, Bring Back the Dead focused more heavily on the drama. Hence, there was a hefty screen time for Jesseca Liu. Undoubtedly, this is probably one of the more challenging roles that she has taken up so far. Jesseca did a fair portrayal of a grieving mother and the challenges faced thereafter the tragedy. However, the character development was limited.
The film was successful in maintaining the horror-thriller atmosphere that was slowly built up from the beginning. Most of the scare sequences were the usual ‘jump scenes’, which lacked visual impact and the lingering effect. You may also expect a few horror clichés (e.g. visiting the cemetery on a cold, wet night). Nonetheless, the sound effects and soundtracks were of great support to the film and did give the chills from time to time.
Bring Back the Dead delivers surprise in two folds – with a sharp twist to the story and having a warm emotional core. The bond and tie between a mother and her child is indeed one that is so extreme. It can motivate one to take drastic measures and risks, even if it seems insane and counters logic.
Surely the film still has room for improvement – in striking a better balance between the horror elements and the drama. For comparison’s sake, films like Bestseller (2010 – directed by Lee Jung-Ho and starring Uhm Jung-Hwa) had a better attempt at an atypical horror. Still, this embodies our local talents’ recent years’ effort in creating new styles and character to the Singapore cinema scene. Perhaps in the near future, we might be served an even bigger and better array of local films.
(A commendable effort on delivering a serious supernatural thriller)
Review by Tho Shu Ling