Hard to find a ghost story these days that isn’t based on a true story. Yeah, right. “23:59” is about Singapore Army recruits dealing with the death of a fellow soldier on the haunted island of Pulau Tekong in 1983. Rumors of a mad woman living on the island and dying exactly at 23:59 (11:59pm in non-military speak) is driving them all crazy.
Tan (Tedd Chan) is convinced he will be the next victim. He tries to warn his fellow recruits of his impending doom, but they just make fun of him and even cram him into a locker as a cruel joke. All of them come to realize that maybe it wasn’t Tan’s overactive imagination, after all.
“23:59” has many problems. It isn’t scary, for one. Most of the recruits and their sergeant come off as superstitious from the get-go, so there’s no arc. No going from I’m-not-scared to I’m-really-scared-now. They are all a nervous lot from the start to the finish. After a while their anxieties wear you down. Will someone please man-up? Please. Even the sergeant is perpetually wetting his pants. It makes for very dull viewing.
I’d love to see more horror films from Singapore and Malaysia, but not based on what I experienced here. The film is in Chinese and Singlish, a Singapore version of English. It’s often hard to understand, but that’s why they’ve got subtitles. Grade: C-
Street Date: June 4, 2013
Formats: Blu-ray and DVD
Runtime: 78 minutes
Rated: R (it could have easily been PG-13)
Released by Magnolia Home Entertainment