The cast and crew of local Chinese horror flick The Transcend share creepy tales of the things that are best left unseen.
WHAT if you could see ghosts? Would you want to have that sort of ability? How would you deal with the spirits? Local Chinese supernatural thriller The Transcend explores all this and more.
In the movie, there is a girl who can see ghosts but wishes she could not, and a guy who writes about ghosts and wishes that he could actually see them.
The girl is Le Le, a funeral troupe trainee who lives in a nunnery and has been seeing ghosts since childhood. The guy is Yan Dong, a cocky author of ghost stories who hopes to be able to see the dead to enhance his storytelling skills. Though his wish does come true, he soon finds that there is more at stake.
Since her special ability has brought her only sadness and pain, Le Le tries her best to ignore all the spooks that appear around her. Yan Dong, on the other hand, empathises with the spirits he sees and tries his best to help them achieve closure and move on.
Produced by veteran actor James Wong and directed by award-winning scriptwriter Ryon Lee, The Transcend stars Mindee Ong, Teddy Chin, Cheng Kam Cheong, Susan Leong, Yenn Teoh, Sean Lee, Koe Yeet and Wong.
The movie, which took two years to make, is said to be based on real-life incidents of hauntings and ghostly sightings.
At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur to launch the movie last week, Wong and Lee divulged that they had coincidentally hired the same funeral troupe from Penang to conduct the burial rites for their dearly departed. “It was a colourful and eye-opening experience. We decided to include those scenes in the movie so that young people could learn about culture and tradition, and how these Chinese customs help us practise filial piety,” offered actor/producer Wong, whose big-screen oeuvre includes The Legacy Of A Lost Love (2008) and The Cycle Of Love (2010).
As part of his research, writer/director Lee spent substantial time talking to the medium who served as the consultant on the set of The Transcend.
“He would describe all the things that one could see in the other realm, the beings and the scenery. And I would carefully take notes in order to recreate some of these scenes,” shared Lee, who won Best Script for Namewee’s Nasi Lemak 2.0 (2011) at last year’s inaugural Golden Wau Awards, Malaysia’s first Chinese-language film awards. Lee also scripted director Chiu Keng Guan’s top-grossing movies Woohoo (2010) and Great Day (2011).
Why did he not just ask to have his “third eye” opened and save all that trouble?
“The sifu actually did offer to open my ‘third eye’ for me. But there was a long list of conditions attached. None of which I was able to fulfil. Moreover, the minimum duration was at least three months, not just three hours or even three days. That was so much more than I was prepared for. So I decided to pass,” disclosed Lee.
“I remember questioning the existence of ghosts once during the filming. I walked by the room and stood at the door looking at a lighting fixture. Then I thought, ‘If you do exist, then prove to me with a sign.’ At that very instant, the light started to turn around and slowly move to face me,” related Lee, who was so spooked by that incident that he never again questioned the existence of otherworldly beings during the shoot.
Singaporean actress Mindee Ong, who plays the female lead Le Le, reported a smooth and stress-free shoot for the film. “Armed with several Buddhist rosaries, I felt very safe at all times. Teddy, however, had a more ‘eventful’ time,” Ong gestured to her co-star.
Prompted by Ong, local social media celebrity Teddy Chin shared his own scary stories while portraying the main character Yan Dong. “I still remember the creepy scene where I had to balance atop three coconuts at an intersection at midnight in order to see ghosts. I was only later told that it was indeed a way to see spirits,” recounted Chin, who also disclosed that his encounters with apparitions in the movie were based on his own experiences.
“Just like the scenes in the movie, I’d had experiences where I only saw the mouth and legs descending from above. I regretted shutting my eyes then as the eerie whispers and heavy breathing in my ears were even creepier!” Chin recalled.
Koe Yeet, who plays one of the wraiths in the movie, revealed that she had had her own share of spooky moments. “Mine was a very scary scene, which required me to be alone inside the room, with the camera located just outside the door. That room was where babies were aborted and I was asked to stand in the exact corner said to be haunted by the spirit of a girl who died during a botched abortion,” shared the young actress, who added that she rapidly wrapped up her scenes and make a quick exit.
- The Transcend is playing in cinemas