Writer/directors Ming Sui Goh and Scott C. Hillyard’s “Repossession” is a film that deals with regret and personal loss but, as we crawl to the end of 2021 it’s themes of unexpected unemployment and financial instability speak to a pandemic-riddled world.
While this film promises horror, Goh and Hilliard have crafted something much more potent. Make no mistake, there are indeed moments of terror, but the filmmakers have bigger emotional stakes to examine.
Gerald Chew is very good as “Jim”, a 50-year-old man living in status-conscious Singapore, who has been unexpectedly forced out his high-paying job. He desperately tries to find work as he hides his abrupt sacking from his family, Linda (Amy Cheng) and teenage daughter, Ashley (Rachel Wan). The only person he is truthful with is his old army buddy, Vinod (Sivakumar Palakrishnan), who begs him to come clean.
While moving through a series of interviews in a job market that is unwelcoming to anyone over 35, Jim finds himself lost and desperate. As he keeps a tight grip on the symbols of his past success (his car, his expensive gated, high-rise condo, etc.), Jim unleashes a threatening force that is connected to secrets from his past. Secrets come in the form of shadowy figures and whispers of voices that taunt him. Jim’s past and current state of mind has revealed a monster.
The mystery that lies in Jim’s past and his relation to the otherworldly happenings (explained through flashbacks of his time in military service and Jim’s younger days with his sister) keeps a tight hold on the viewer’s interest.
The filmmakers have created a truly disquieting atmosphere. Woon Seong Chow’s camera follows Jim through the darkness, setting the latter half of the film in shadowy black hues that hide the most dangerous things. Slow pans and tight framing emanate the darkness surrounding Jim and the very real imbalance of our world and what lies beyond that is beginning to take shape.
As does the screenplay, Wei Yong Teo’s score keeps a tight balance on the drama and the horror. Teo uses a downbeat synth score with a sad cello to encompass Jim’s sadness. As the terror builds and Jim begins to lose grip on his reality, the composer’s quiet score becomes more unnerving, and an eerie mood pervades the film.
All the elements at play work extremely well. The framework of the supernatural holds a commentary on the very real fears of financial ruin and personal shame. Moments of human drama hit on many relatable levels while scenes of dread and fright are quite effective.
As one character tells Jim, “You never walk alone.” Our past is always with us and will be there waiting when we come to our final days.
“Repossession” is a film (and title) of many layers, each one existing as more compelling than the last. The horror is frightening, and the personal drama is moving. Ming Sui Goh and Scott C. Hillyard have crafted an interesting and patient film that will move you, scare you, and most importantly, stay with you for quite a while.
Written & Directed by Ming Sui Goh and Scott C. Hillyard
Starring Gerald Chew, Amy Cheng, Rachel Wan, Sivakumar Palakrishman
NR, 96 Minutes, Monkey & Boar Productions, Garavitas Ventures