The Singapore film industry is a small one, and if you ask any Singaporean which local films they have watched, the usual suspects would include I Not Stupid or Ah Boys to Men (if you were more mainstream and Chinese speaking), and 12 Storeys, 15, or Ilo Ilo (if you were more arthouse). Crazy Rich Asians might have put Singapore on the radar, ultimately it’s a Hollywood film with an equally Hollywood sensibility. Which is why I’m always excited when a new Singaporean film shows up on the horizon.
In Zombiepura, Singapore’s first zombie flick, a lazybones reservist and his fanatic sergeant have to fight to survive when their isolated army camp is infected with a zombie virus.
The leads, Alaric and Benjamin Heng, have good chemistry, but it was a pity that scene stealer, Haresh Tilani, didn’t have a meatier role to showcase his excellent comic skills. Newbie, Joey Pink Lai, also impresses with her gungho attitude, though her screen mom’s character played by veteran actress, Chen Xiuhuan, could have had more heft given what happened later in the film. Rayve Zen’s Chua also had interesting tones, but his character arc was ultimately let down by a somewhat sketchy script, and ended up more as a plot device.
The zombie makeup was pretty badass, though some scenes did not feel cinematic enough, possibly due to the limited budget that local films have to contend with.
What kept the film entertaining, however, were the barrage of tongue-in-cheek jokes about NS and wry observations about Singapore (#mosquito repellent #muscle memory), trademark humour of the director, Jacen Tan, whose first short film about finding literal space for football in land-starved Singapore, Tak Giu, became a viral hit long before the era of Youtube.
A homage to the cult B-movies, Zombiepura is more comedy than horror in the vein of Zombieland. Scaredy cats can enjoy Zombiepura with fistfuls of popcorn this Halloween. Leave your brains at the door!
Zombiepura opens in Singapore October 25th.
Addendum: a friend who’s an anthropology professor likes the show; she says it’s a like Shaun of the Dead meets Ah Boys to Men!😁