Movie Feature

Director Tony Kern brings on the horror in 'Afterimages'

By Zaki JufriMovies - 11 September 2014 9:00 AM | Updated 6:48 PM

Director Tony Kern brings on the horror in 'Afterimages'

For Tony Kern, art imitates life in his latest horror film ‘Afterimages’. 

Written, directed and co-produced by the Singapore-based American filmmaker, the film is an anthology of five horror tales 

The film, which opens this weekend, features a group of students (Jeremy Meyer, Caren Utino, Kevin Lagrange, Olivia Stiefel and Michael Kwah) who get more than they bargained for when they burn paper effigy cameras to get supernatural inspiration for a college film project.

The movie features a sequence of four eerie short films that emerge in the paper effigies' ashes, each time the students make an 'offering'. The cast for each of the stories comprise mainly local actors and actresses. 

The film will also open in the US in cities like Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Chicago from October. It comes four years after the self-confessed horror and fantasy movie fan’s big screen debut with ‘Haunted Changi’.

Melissa Faith Yeo in short story 'Xiao Bao Bao' from 'Afterimages


One of the stories, ‘Xiao Bao Bao’, is about a young woman, played by Melissa Faith Yeo, who is haunted after snapping a picture on her phone of a person committing suicide. Actress Esther Low Hui Xian also stars in this story, which is based on a real-life incident that the 45-year old Kern experienced when he just moved to Singapore. 

“This happened quite a while back, after I wrote the first story of my horror anthology. When I was sitting at my computer, writing my second story, I heard a loud bang. I ran to the balcony, looked out and there was a body of a woman on the ground. At first I thought a truck had hit her but I turned out that she had jumped from the 29th floor,” Kern recalled.

The incident affected Kern so much that he even began to imagine seeing bodies falling while going about his day.

“I really felt haunted by the incident because I was the first one to see the body. Every time I walked back into my condo, I would look up. The feeling never went away. I wrote ‘Xiao Bao Bao’ soon after that,” Kern told

The cast, director Tony Kern and producer Genevieve Woo at a press event to promote 'Afterimages'

To make the story even more true to life, Kern shot the short film at the apartment block where the suicide happened.

He explained: “We didn’t plan to go back to the apartment block. I think fate brought us back there. I thought that it would be more interesting to capture the story in the same place where the real story happened. And that was the first story we shot for the movie.”

From using the exact location in the car park where the body landed and the spot on the 29th floor from where it fell, Kern tried to recreate the incident as faithfully as possible.

“The movie was not meant to be disrespectful in any way. I felt a presence while shooting it but I don’t think it was malicious. I hoped that telling this story helped the victim’s spirit move on, somehow,” he added. 


Jeremy Meyer, Caren Utino, Kevin Lagrange, Olivia Stiefel and Michael Kwah in main story, 'Burnt Offerings'

Kern said that he decided to produce an anthology of stories instead of a full feature because he had so many stories to tell and liked the format of shows like ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘Tales From The Crypt’.

“I have always been fascinated by horror films which to me are a kind of escape,” the director said.

And a documentary he had created earlier, ‘The Month of Hungry Ghost’ in 2005, amassed him a wealth of material to draw on for this anthology.

“We met a whole bunch of different people who not only observe the Hungry Ghost month, but also had their own stories to tell – like how they have a ‘third eye’ that can seen things. I became fascinated with all these stories and the culture and traditions behind them. They started influencing my writing and my stories,” he explained.

Vincent Tee battles a vengeful spirit in short story 'Rekindling'


Another story in ‘Afterimages’ is ‘Rekindling’, which is about a vengeful murder victim.

Vincent Tee had fun playing a beleaguered and heartbroken hawker in this story.  The 60-year old actor did a lot of green-screen work for his part in the film. 

“I had done some work using the green-screen but not on this scale,” the actor told 

“It wasn’t easy acting scared to nothing so I had to imagine that there was something really scary in front of me,” he added.

Actress Yeo from ‘Xiao Bao Bao’ agrees with Tee.

“Sometimes, you just have to be put everything into your character and be in the moment,” Yeo told

For Mike Kasem, who plays Harrison, a dentist who is stuck in a lift with five strangers in 'Skin Deep', acting in a horror movie made him more open to watching horror movies and maybe future roles in this genre.

“I was not a fan of horror before this movie. I always wondered how scariness could be entertainment,” the MediaCorp Class95FM DJ said. 

“After filming the movie, I started to appreciate horror. I discovered that horror movies could be fun. I finally understood this subculture. I will definitely watch more horror films now.”

‘Afterimages’ opens in Singapore 11 September

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