S'pore's Kelvin Tong to direct Hollywood horror movie Email

6 February 2014 / 2 years 8 months ago

Home-grown film-maker Kelvin Tong's new horror film, Email, is a Hollywood- produced film that stars actress Nikki Reed, and will be shot and set in Singapore.

Reed, 25, is best known for her role as one of the vampires in the wildly successful Twilight film series, which ran from 2008 to 2012.

In Email, which Tong is directing, she plays Thea Hartley, a journalist who travels to Singapore to investigate her sister's suspicious death and discovers a series of killings linked to a cursed e-mail, reported The Straits Times.

The film will also feature a Hollywood actor who has yet to be cast. He will play an expatriate technology writer who joins Reed in uncovering the supernatural mystery behind the e-mail. The rest of the cast will be Singaporean.

The Hollywood Reporter has described Email as being in the vein of the Japanese cult classic horror film, The Ring, in which a videotape kills its viewers.

Email is being produced by Tong's film company Boku Films, local production company SPJ Enterprises and Los Angeles-based entertainment consulting company zgreen entertainment.

One of the film's executive producers is American Jason Shuman, the man responsible for taking Hong Kong's director-sibling duo Pang Brothers to Hollywood with crime thriller Bangkok Dangerous (2008), which starred Nicolas Cage, and horror film The Messengers (2007).

Shuman recommended Reed to Tong, who says he was "blown away" by her performance in her film debut, the edgy teen drama Thirteen (2003).

Working on an English-language horror film for the international market will present new challenges for the 40-year-old best known for local box- office hits such as nostalgia drama It's A Great Great World (2011) and horror flicks Rule #1 (2008) and The Maid (2005).

Tong said in an e-mail interview from Hong Kong: "I'll have to make sure that the storytelling is universal and comprehensible in any language."

He said the film is inspired by the obsession with the Internet. "I looked around and saw everybody absorbed in their iPhones and iPads. Straightaway, I felt that grounding the horror in my next film in the Internet, e-mails and social media would be interesting. "

The budget for the production is not yet available. Tong said the producers have secured a deal for the film to open in the United States as well as across Asia. He is also expecting European film buyers to start acquiring rights at the Berlin Film Festival market later this month.

Shooting is expected to begin in the middle of this year and production will take two months.

The director wants to expose the international audience to the contrast between old and new locations in Singapore.

"Old places such as Chinatown and Little India will definitely feature as I am convinced these colourful, historically rich places will blow audiences in other countries away."

And because the film involves technology, he will also feature "high-tech architecture" found in newer buildings such as the Biopolis, the international research and development centre in Buona Vista.

He said: "At the end of the day, I am a Singapore film-maker and one of my biggest wishes is to see Singapore become a cinematic setting for international pictures.

"So, the first chance I got to work on a Hollywood-produced film, I was determined to set the story in my little corner of the world - Singapore.''

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