Haunted Changi (2010) on Home Video, November 22, 2011
Ah, the horror mockumentary, a genre within a genre within a genre (I think Winston Churchill first said that). Haunted Changi purports to be the chronicle of a group of Singaporean filmmakers who, in January 2010, “began exploring the famously haunted Old Changi Hospital in Singapore with terrifying and tragic results.” The film itself “pieces together the original Haunted Changi film crew’s footage to tell the full story.” It tells it very slowly.
What Haunted Changi does well is show the disintegration of the crew on professional, social, and individual levels. Moving at a snail’s pace, it doesn’t give much indication that there is anything supernatural happening at Changi Hospital, which was once a Japanese POW camp and is reportedly haunted, until a half-hour into the film when a child runs screaming from the place. The hospital is very old, covered with graffiti inside and out, and home to a lot of flies (and you know what that means). As one would expect in an abandoned building, it is filled with rubbish, the ceilings and walls are peeling, the windows are all broken, and standing water from rainstorms dot the landscape.
Instead of ghostly action, the audience is treated to overlong scenes following a flashlight beam as people look for things that aren’t there. Despite its shortcomings, Haunted Changi features an attractive, game cast (Andrew Lau, Sheena Chung, Audi Khalis, and Farid Azlam) that convincingly portrays the crew’s breakdown from assured twenty-something documentarians to scared kids. However, Haunted Changi lacks the genuine creepiness of Blair Witch Project, although it succeeds in recreating the paranoia.
We don’t expect much from horror films—scare us, shock us, make us sick, or make us laugh—but we do want more than terrifyingly boring and tragically elusive. Haunted Changi succeeds in achieving the look it required, supplying an unnerving setting, and setting up the audience for disturbing, sinister goings-on. It just doesn’t deliver. DVD release date: November 22, 2011.