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Another Hole In the Head 2011 Review: Haunted Changi

By  · Published on June 1st, 2011

Another Hole In the Head 2011 Film Festival runs June 2nd through the 16th at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco. Check out the Festival Genius site for film schedules and tickets.

Haunted Changi
Directed by Andrew Lau
Fri, June 3rd @ 520pm
Thur, June 9th @ 720pm

The old Changi Hospital in Singapore has seen better days, but it’s also seen far worse ones. It was closed for good in 1997, and the locals have viewed it as a haunted building better off avoided ever since. Before becoming a civilian hospital the building was occupied by the insane, the incarcerated, and several hundred prisoners of war who were abused, experimented upon and beheaded by the Japanese occupiers. A documentary crew arrives thirteen years after the hospital’s doors were closed to explore the halls and discover the truth of the building’s blood-filled history.

I think we all know where this is heading right?

Haunted Changi is pretty much exactly what we’ve come to expect from the found footage genre (and the sub-genre of camera crews exploring haunted houses and such). A small group of people enter, most of them fairly skeptical of the supernatural, and then scare by scare they come to believe the hard way that the ghosts are actually very real and very angry. The group here consists of an easily frightened female host, an overly ambitious director, a superstitious sound-man, and a cameraman. The film is actually a documentary about their original documentary (so it’s meta found footage?)… because it’s a true story! The four team members even have Facebook pages so you know it’s real. It’s basically chronicling their attempt to document the spooky hospital’s history right up through the collapse of the production due to the unforeseen but deadly events that followed.

This structure means that the usual format is tweaked slightly so instead of the gang entering the hospital, getting trapped, and seeing things get progressively worse, the excursions are interrupted with retreats back to their apartments and offices to review their footage. The director makes a few solo trips to the building and reports back that a Chinese woman is squatting in there as well and decides to make her part of the story. Interviews with locals help flesh out the tales of ghostly women and the sounds of Japanese swords heard in the night.

The movie opens with a cameraman wandering a dark hallway before being grabbed by an invisible force and dragged out of view. The chopping sounds give us an idea as to his fate, but then the story rewinds back to the beginning to tell the tale properly. The damage here is that not only does the movie reveal its cards way too early but we now know at least one of the characters’ fates. It doesn’t sit well in a supposed documentary.

Haunted Changi bears definite similarity to others in the genre, but its closest resemblance can be found elsewhere at this very festival. Grave Encounters is the closing night film, and while the setup is familiar it takes the third act into some entirely unexpected places. It’s not always successful, but it’s a creatively fresh take that’s sorely missing here.

The Upside: Final twenty minutes features some minor creepiness and scares; stars an attractive Asian woman

The Downside: Opening spoils a ghostly money shot then rewinds to the beginning; acting occasionally poor; story plays out rather predictably at times; structure interrupts any building menace

Check out all of our Another Hole In the Head Film Fest coverage here.

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.