Review: The Ghosts Must Be Crazy by Boris Boo and Mark Lee

An omnibus of two horror-comedies –‘The Day Off’ by Boris Boo and ‘The Ghost Bride’ by Mark Lee – ‘The Ghosts Must Be Crazy’ proves there is life yet beyond Director Neo’s signature brand of films in the J-Team clique.

The potential upon which the directorial mantle is passed though, isn’t as clear a conclusion. While Neo’s household-favourites tantalize the palates of familiar heartland people and places even before opening day, the same formula adopted by these heirs-apparent, at least on the evidence of ‘The Ghosts Must Be Crazy’, look open to question.

‘The Day Off’, the first film in the omnibus by Boris Boo, starts off the “hor-medy” promisingly enough with a memorable opening cameo by Suhami Yusof (of local sitcom ‘Police and Thief’ fame). Leveraging on the bona-fide Singaporean’s stereotype of army life – think a strict unyielding Officer-in-charge, a loud-mouthed and repetitive Sergeant Major, and a couple of skiving reservist soldiers – and you have a ready-made cast of personalities in the local audiences’ mind.

Add in the key ingredients of humour amid faux-horror scenes and the plot turns itself into the self-tagged, albeit confusing, genre of a horror-comedy… or the innuendo-laced “hor-medy” if you like.

If nothing else, the film brings a refreshing touch to our favourite-heartland film clique with cast members that though easily identifiable, you might not have expected to see.

The comedic Chua Enlai (of local sitcom ‘The Noose’ fame) brings his trademark effervescence to the role of the no-nonsense Officer who has more than a word for everyone who dares ask for any form of leeway off training, legitimate or not. Dennis Chew (perhaps better known as Zhou Chong Qing, DJ on MediaCorp Radio 93.3) turns in a decent performance as the sickly soldier who can’t convince anyone he’s genuinely in need of medical help, before well… he finally does in a whole different set of circumstances.

Probably the kind of film that should have you leaving your dignity outside the door (especially if watching it with a date, though how and why should be subject of an inquest), you’ll find yourself laughing and flowing along with the absurdities of the plot.

Though it has to be said the script did the cast no favours, overdoing lines and themes that stop being funny at about the third consecutive time it’s harped on, the cast did a decent job of making the uncharacteristically haunting (especially the closing scenes), or funny (if you prefer) film a watchable treat.

The only visible similarity of Mark Lee’s directorial debut ‘The Ghost Bride’, the second piece in the instalment, might have been that it too opens in the still of the night. Except this time the main lead Henry Thia (better known as ‘Hui Ge’) has just got jilted and is approached by the director/co-lead Mark Lee.

Starring the two faces/names synonymous with J-Team collaborations, ‘The Ghost Bride’ centers on Ah Hui’s (Henry Thia) inability to achieve anything significant in life, whether holding on to a romantic relationship or winning the lottery. He’s approached by a stranger Ah Hai (Mark Lee) who offers him the opportunity of a turnaround in fortunes, for consequences that he (or you, for that matter) would never imagine.

Sounds promising? Perhaps as much as an audience would get from the film’s synopsis, but if you were looking for a film which falls flat on a lofty or promising premise, you need look no further.

Split into two subplots, ‘The Ghost Bride’ starts off with more questions than answers, mostly centering on why Ah Hai would help Ah Hui (pardon the naming creatives) with turning his life around and what he’d get out of it.

These question marks then slowly morph into exclamation marks as strange things start happening to Ah Hui, whose lucky streak comes to an abrupt halt and is told that he needs to make amends for his unfulfilled promises.

Thereby begins the second subplot of the film, one filled with twists and turns so uniquely horrifying, it might scare you into never watching a similar production again. Though not quite M. Night Shyamalan–esque, the plot’s twists do make you sit at the edge of your seats, cringing and wishing you didn’t have to watch further.

If low-brow (or toilet) humour makes your day, then leave your brains outside the door, step inside the theatre and have a good laugh at ‘The Ghosts Must Be Crazy’. Otherwise, you might get a better thrill turning the lights off in your room and scaring yourself with a flashlight.

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