At best, Kallang Roar (2008) was a sincere attempt to recapture the spirit of the famous stadium roar while reenacting some of the most glorious moments in Singapore football, well at least back in the heyday when our country's football was something to be proud of.
Director Cheng Ding An's latest effort, Ghost On Air, however, is incomparable to Kallang Roar. It's not even half as good as the latter. The main problem, and it is a huge one, is its story. Or rather its lack of one.
But about that in a moment.
Ghost on Air stars Dennis Chew as a disgraced radio DJ Ping Xiao who gets assigned the midnight slot, and resorts to telling ghost stories on air. He becomes haunted by the stories that he tells on air. Now, that sounds like something horror fans would buy...
But hold on for a second. That is really all to it.
The supporting characters like Ping Xiao's deceased girlfriend who's a horror novelist, an old woman who owns a creepy old apartment adorn with stuff used for prayers and funerals, and Ping Xiao's new female colleague who takes over his popular morning sessions, don't quite provide any motivation to drive the plot.
What's left is essentially this: A series of countless scares that populate the movie with Ping Xiao actively trying to test his threshold for horror. "Let's take a look at what's in the cupboard... now let's take a look at what's behind this door... Hmm, what's that grabbing my waist?"
What you are in for is not a well-told horror film with a strong core that connects all characters, events, and yes, scares, but something that would work far better if it was presented as a 10-minute experimental short film. Touted as a 'new concept' in horror, Ghost On Air remains exceptionally plain.
To the filmmakers' credit, Ghost On Air has uniquely conceptualized its sound design - perhaps that's what the 'new concept' is referring to. Granted, tremendous effort has gone into creating an eerie, unsettling atmosphere. The soundscape is seemingly a cross between traditional horror sound effects with distorted, electronic voices.
As a horror movie, Ghost On Air may scare the uninitiated. But seasoned moviegoers with horror experience will find that the movie piles up the 'scares' because it has nothing more it could do. In the end, the story, or what little of it, gets buried under a thin layer of topsoil, as the scares escalate not in intensity or with threatening purpose, but with mathematical quantity.