Director: Tony Kern
Starring: Jeremy Meyer, Caren Utino, Sheena Chan, Daniel Jenkins, Kevin Legrange, Michael Kwah
European Distribution from Devilworks .
“Creepy, but confused by the end.”
A group of film students burn paper effigy cameras and receive films from the dead in the format of the camera they burned. Which is a great premise the film doesn’t quite live up to.
It begins when one of them burns a still camera and finds photographs in the ashes the next day. After that they try out various movie cameras and receive the films that make up the anthology of ghost stories which comprise Afterimages. They decide to turn in the films they get from the afterlife as their home work assignments. But of course you can’t have ghosts do your homework for you and not pay a price.
The first of the four films the students pull from the ashes is “Ghost Pool (Pull) Leg” based on the legend of ghosts pulling the legs of night time swimmers in order to drown them. In “Xiao Boa Boa” a woman witnesses a suicide and must uncover why the ghost has latched onto her. “Skin Deep” is a tale of vanity acted out in an elevator. Last and best is “Rekindling” which has veteran actor Vincent Tee. His experience really shows and carries the short.
On the plus side the setting of Singapore and the ghosts based around Chinese and Malaysian mythologies is great. There is some nice cinematography including computer overlays in “Xiao Boa Boa” which enhance the creepiness and mood. The diversity of the cast is better than anything Hollywood can muster up. The cast is truly international and makes Singapore- as seen in the film, a true cultural crossroads.
For those who don’t like reading, fear not, there are no subtitles, it’s filmed in English. It’s sort of creepy? There isn’t anything shocking and it’s nothing a horror buff hasn’t seen before in other, better movies, but it’s an okay introduction to South East Asian horror films.
Unfortunately the negatives outweigh Afterimages few strengths. The acting is very uneven. A few of the actors do a great job, but their performances are hampered by the majority of mediocre to poor performances. The special effects are, well, bad. The film feels significantly longer than its 93 min. runtime and the film quality was grainy and dark, making the darker shots hard to read. Though with the poor special effects that might be a bonus. In some scenes there is a disconnect between the ghost and the action taking place, as if the ghost isn’t even present in the scene. A lot of jumpy cuts at major scare points don’t help and it undermines the supernatural occurrences in a few places.
Worst of all were the characters of the film students. They had no real reason to be in the movie but someone decided there should be a framing device. Derrick, the American(?) student was horrible and possibly racist-he calls one of his Singaporean friends a ‘fortune cookie’. The film students story progresses from “This is cool” to “Let’s make a crowd funded movie and call if Afterimages” (yes there is a commercial for the film midway through the movie), to “This getting scary”.
There is also some vague plot about the house they’re staying in which comes in at the very end for no good reason. Afterimages did not need the framing device of the film students and it only serves to pad out the runtime. The actual story of the house and the students might have made a compelling film all by itself but it feels sandwiched in.
Kudos for: The bicycle bell of doom and oscillating fan cam.
Final Lesson: VHS tapes are not that old!