“Haunt Me” is one of the entries in HOOQ’s Filmmakers’ Guild Competition 2017 that won a chance to be developed as a pilot. (Spoilers ahead)
The Singaporean horror-thriller follows Kwong, a former military man and struggling artist who inherits his family’s destiny of escorting troubled spirits to the other side. In the pilot episode. he is tasked to find Rose, the ghost who caused his father’s death and lead her to a peaceful afterlife.
“Haunt Me” is an irony of sorts. It’s a horror series that displays a lot of heart. Kwong’s sincerity is consistent throughout the show, especially during his conversations with his deceased father and Rose. He displays no fear, but filial piety and real concern for them. He listens to their stories, and diligently follows their instructions. Kwong eventually finds Rose with the help of her half-sister May, and his old auntie neighbour running a funeral shop.
The horror sequences don’t elicit fearful reactions, and insteady serve only as segues to the dramatic scenes. The harm they cause isn’t unnecessarily destructive but instrumental to the storyline. Just like Hollywood’s most recent horror films, the deceased are not portrayed just as scary, hollow creatures out to get you for no reason. They are portrayed as what they are: dead humans whose past conflicts are getting in the way of their journey to paradise. “Haunt Me” is more of a beautiful drama than a horror, nor thriller.
As it was mentioned above, the show is successful in terms of portraying drama. However, it has breaks in its narrative that makes it predictable, problematic and boring at times.
“Haunt Me” has a compelling story to tell. But certain changes have to be made if HOOQ decides to develop it into a full-fledged series. It needs to be more comprehensive in terms of laying important plot details in order for the audience to understand their significance. Another thing that director Omar Dhas has to improve on is the quality of visual effects. For a low-budget production, it had an impressive depiction of the afterlife portal. However, the spirits didn’t look haunting or the least bit interesting. They actually looked a bit cartoonish. “Haunt Me” is essentially a horror drama, so both the ‘horror’ and ‘drama’ parts have to have the same quality treatment.
The future of “Haunt Me” remains to be a mystery but it has a lot of potential. Nat Ho portrays the role of Kwong with a lot of courage and wide range of emotions. He’s not overly fearful, nor jaded. The show’s premise focuses on the mythical and superstitious treatment of the journey to the afterlife – something distinctly different from horror shows from the West. Putting a tighter narrative and striking visual design together with good acting may put the show on the video-in-demand map as a binge-worthy series across Southeast Asia.
“Haunt Me” also stars Elvis Chin as Kwong’s best buddy Mike, and actresses Cheryl Tan and Maryanne Ng. The show is currently available for streaming on HOOQ.