Sunday, June 28, 2015

23:59, Full Metal Jacket Meets The Ring

Delving into Asian horror does not often take us to Malaysia, or into army barracks, but here goes.  2011's "23:59" is a creepy ghost story set on a Malaysian island where army recruits are training.  Unlike most ghost stories, the protagonists are not young attractive women or suburban families...but brave young men vowing to serve their country.  Complete with ghosts, possessions, mutant monsters, exorcisms, and superstitions..."23:59" may not be the most original plot, but if you're looking for a neat ghost it is.
Army recruits, late one night, exchange ghost stories; however, one appears to be true.  People dying one minute before midnight are condemned to haunt the living...and in these barracks, strange suicides have taken place at 2359 hours (11:59 pm).  Tan (Tedd Chan) is a wimpy recruit, teased and bullied by his company.  He has seen the ghost of a woman and fears he will be killed by her.  Most of the company thinks he is just weak-minded, but his best friend, Jeremy (Henley Hil) will come to believe him.  Wouldn't you know it....Jeremy has "the gift."  You know "the gift,"...that ambiguous ability to see and communicate with the dead.  Enough of that, back to the plot.  Living on the island at one time was a medium who gave birth to a mutant child..who may be a demon.  The whereabouts of these two are unknown, but their fate was intertwined with the army camp.
One night on a training exercise, Tan mysteriously dies.  His death spooks his company. Jeremy, upon finding his body, also spies the ghost of the medium.  The spooked company must then deal with Tan's ghost and the possession of another recruit, Chester (Josh Lai).  After an exorcism, Chester is back to normal, but his fate is far from safe.  As the ghost keeps appearing, more deaths occur and Jeremy realizes that he must examine his own past to figure exactly what is going on.  Jeremy's past and the haunted history of the island will collide in a very dramatic and chilling conclusion.
The rigidity of a military mindset played against superstition and ghosts is the conflict explored by writer and director Gilbert Chan.  Of course, as in most of these movies, the superstition and ghosts win out.  Most of us have ghosts from our past, but in "23:59," the ghosts are malicious and homicidal, with vengeance on their mind.  Available on Netflix, enjoy this Asian ghost story. 

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