The Maid (2005) – A Chinese Ghost Story Through Foreign Eyes

This post is part of Preamble to Halloween, an October marathon of horror features before the dawn of All Hallows’ Eve.

Those living outside of East Asia may not have heard of The Maid, not to be confused with the 2020 Thai haunted tale of the same name. This work of horror belongs to Singapore, one of the first mainstream releases of the genre in my country. It features familiar traditions and habits that are quintessentially local. But as films like Shutter and Ringu have proven, scares can transcend borders.

Set in the seventh lunar month, the film takes place during the Hungry Ghost Festival. The month signifies when the spirits of deceased ancestors return to the mortal realm. Contrary to likely first impressions, the festival has little to do with the terror of the supernatural. Rather, it is about remembrance and honouring the deceased. Even so, the alleged presence of the spirits still stokes fear to any child who spent their early years in the city state.

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Book Reviews: September 2020 Reads (… and a Preamble to Halloween!)

Our favourite month of the year is here! Well, let’s face it, October isn’t even a real month. It is nothing but days to Halloween, which means a valid excuse for an entire month of horror movies.

While 31 days of consistent posts seems ambitious for me, I have lined up a few reviews for my own teeny horror-thon, Preamble to Halloween. For those of you who have committed to your own Spooktober features, do drop your links below. There’s nothing I love more than reading about my favourite genre.

Back to the books front, it has been a while since I was able to finish 5 in a month. My new Kobo reader, a birthday present to myself, has made late night reads much easier. May the novelty never fade. To my fellow bibliophiles, here are my reads of the month.

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Movie Review: Tenet (2020)

Tenet (dir. Christopher Nolan, 2020) – A CIA operative takes on a mission of international espionage, only to find it unfolding beyond real time.

5/5

Christopher Nolan loves toying with time. Linear narratives, it appears, do not interest him.

In Memento, his amnesiac character lives out his mystery in both forward and reverse chronology. With Inception, his measurement of years varies with every layer of the dream world. Interstellar has Nolan going deeper, working with theoretical physicist Kip Thorne to firm up the science of his wormholes.

Tenet seems a natural extension of that same obsessive exploration. His new film yet again tinkers with the written rules of time by introducing head-spinning unknowns. With Kip Thorne back by his side, the pair boldly questions, what if we could invert everything around us? What if we could walk through our world as it moves backwards in time?

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Movie Review: 7500 (2020)

7500 (dir. Patrick Vollrath, 2020) – Terrorists hijack a Berlin-Paris flight, where a pilot is forced to make tough decisions to save his crew and passengers.

4/5

No long shots, no scenery, no distractions. Nothing but acting and words. It takes one hell of a performance to make single-location films work. Anchoring 7500 is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s in the role of co-pilot Tobias Ellis, with just a locked door separating him from the ruthless hijackers.

He wasn’t alone. Not at first. Before he managed to lock the door behind, one hijacker had stormed his way in with a glass shard in hand. It took Ellis all he had to knock the intruder out, barely escaping with a badly injured arm.

Captain Michael Lutzmann (Carlo Kitzlinger) wasn’t quite as lucky. Ellis’ only companion slumps in the front seat with a fatal wound. All that he has left are two unconscious bodies. And his fear is palpable.

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Book Reviews: August 2020 Reads

Last month hasn’t been quite as productive, with just two books on the shelves. Who knew where time went? Here’s hoping August has treated you well, and may September be even better.

Undone (by Karin Slaughter, 2009)
4/5

And now, when she looked in the mirror and saw a new line on her own face, a new wrinkle, all she could think was that she was growing old without him.

Former coroner Sara Linton has just moved to Atlanta to start afresh, but soon finds herself drawn back to the violence she was trying to escape. The case that brings the doctor together with the GBI is one of the most brutal yet, featuring graphic descriptions of sadistic torture.

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