23:59, The Witching Hour

Add 2 parts stormy weather, 3 parts jungle foliage, 5 parts army boys and 9 parts spookiness and you’ll get the latest showing from Director Gilbert Chan.

23:59 is a local horror movie set in 1983 on an island used for military training. A recruit believes that he will be the next victim of the spirit of a mad woman who died on the island at the exact hour of 23:59. After he is found dead during a route march gone awry, his buddy decides to investigate. Little does he know that the truth will not only unearth a terrible dark secret of the island, but also unleash his deepest fears.

We caught up with Gilbert, to talk about his inspiration behind the movie, how it was like working with the cast members and his future plans.

Show Avenue: You previously directed more lighthearted romantic comedies like Love Matters and other art-house films, was there a conscious decision to move away from that to direct a horror film?

Gilbert: I have always been intrigued by horror movies and it’s a genre I had always wanted to try. This idea was conceptualized ten years ago and finally got to make it now so it’s a bit of a dream come true.

SA: You wrote the first draft of the film about 10 years ago, why did it take so long to finally make it to the big screen?

G: I think finding investors and people who believe in the film project was the toughest. And also, it’s my first time directing a horror movie so I can imagine not a lot of people will have confidence in the project. So I am really thankful for the people at Gorylah Pictures especially Gary Goh (producer) and Eric Khoo (Executive Producer) for believing in me and the project and for pushing it through.

Some of the main cast included Malaysian actor, Henley Hii (left) and local actor, Lawrence Koh (centre). Photo credits – https://www.facebook.com/2359themovie

SA: The cast was made up of locals and Malaysians, were there any clashes and who was the easiest to work with?

G: No clashes whatsoever but a lot of teasing and jokes on set despite it being a horror movie set. I have to say this bunch of actors is one of the easiest I have ever worked with. Their dedication, professionalism and enthusiasm were second to none.

SA: I loved how Mark Lee plays the role of a very serious and concerned Sergeant. In real life, is he more like the funny man that we’re used to seeing him on TV or Sergeant Quah?

G: Mark Lee is always funny, both on set and off set. He’s such a naturally gifted comedian and a very intelligent actor.

SA: I heard that the movie took only 18 days to film. Is this true and how did you manage to do that?

G: Yes it’s absolutely true! What’s even more amazing is the fact that it rained for almost all the nights we shot in the forests. I think it’s a miracle that we actually did it in such a short time and I think it’s because of the good team spirit of the crew and also the professionalism of the actors.

SA: Were there anything out of the ordinary that happened during the filming?

G: One of the toilets in the camp was rumored to be haunted. Several crew members who went in claimed to hear a voice inside the third cubicle. I don’t think I ever checked out that toilet to confirm this rumor though.

A scene from the movie, 23:59. Photo credits – https://www.facebook.com/2359themovie

SA: In making this film, what is the one thing that you want audiences to walk away feeling?

G: I think I just want them to be entertained. Whether it’s through getting spooked in some of the scenes, or laughing at some of the humor. Also, the ending was deliberately shot in such a way that it’s not very straight forward so hopefully it encourages people to think a little as well.

SA: What are your plans after this movie? Are you already embarking on your next directing venture and what will that be? 

G: Am currently working on a script that is more touching but I won’t be directing it. My next directing project will probably be another horror or a thriller.  


About Junyi

Having graduated with a Bachelors in Arts with Honours, I traverse the fluff-covered, sometimes pretentious world of the arts, yet would like to think that I'm down to earth, doing things like sipping hot tea at kopitiams and sitting behind a desk during office hours. This website is a portfolio of the writing that I feel can be "aired in public" (and then some). I would like to one day be a journalist for all things lifestyle. Or a full time singer. Or a world-weary traveler. Or a clown. Feel free to look through and leave your thoughts.
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