Jaymee Ong is Majorie Tan in “The Faith of Anna Waters.” (Golden Village Pictures)
Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
Secret ending? No.
Running time: 95 minutes (~1.5 hours)
“The Faith of Anna Waters” is a horror film set in Singapore, about a reporter who investigates the death of her sister. However, her sister’s death is only the beginning of a sinister demonic plan… It stars Elizabeth Rice (Jamie Waters), Matthew Settle (Sam Harris), Colin Borgonon (Father De Silva), Adina Herz (Katie Harris), Adrian Pang (Father Matthew Goh), with appearances by Jaymee Ong (Majorie Tan), Tan Kheng Hua (Charlotte Sharma), Crispian Chan (Josh Lim), and Janice Koh (Subterfuge CEO). It is rated NC-16.
“The Faith of Anna Waters” was pushed back from an initial March release date, and it’s been a highly anticipated film for our country since it is, after all, set in Singapore. While the movie’s title doesn’t exactly scream Singapore (not with a surname like “Waters”), the bulk of it takes place in one of those old colonial bungalows that has a trampoline in the backyard, of all things. Scares are mild in this film, although there are a few shockers, so if the scariness is what’s putting you off, you should catch the film.
Unfortunately, it also means that if you’re a horror movie buff, you’re not going to come away too frightened by the film.
Jamie Waters (Elizabeth Rice) has her suspicions in “The Faith of Anna Waters.” (Golden Village Pictures)
The Singapore connection
There are so many appearances by Singaporean actors on screen, all carrying our Singapore accent (with the odd except of Janice Koh, who has a rather fake and forced accent in her role), that it almost feels familiar. Oddly though, most of what you see in Singapore consists of shophouses and push-cart laden streets juxtaposed against gleaming metal skyscrapers and black and white bungalows. It’s a stereotypical depiction of our country, but at least there’s a modern aspect to it.
The colour grading really sets you in a sombre mood, looking like the December monsoon season. It’s interesting to see Singapore depicted as a Gothic setting, with shadows and washed out buildings everywhere. It puts you in the right frame of mind for the dark approach that the film takes to religion, death, and families.
Sam (Matthew Settle) holds Katie (Adina Herz) in “The Faith of Anna Waters.” (Golden Village Pictures)
In a film with obvious contrasting Western and Asian accents, it’s really disconcerting to see a Biblical demon speak in an American accent. Logically, it would speak with a European accent, given its Abrahamic origins. You might not notice this if the accents were homogenous, but since the sense of multiculturalism is constant in the film, it really sticks out. And the lines that the demon spouts sound like they were taken from the antagonists of an 80’s cartoon! It’s a hammy waste, especially since the supernatural aspects had pretty frightening visuals.
Exposition in the wrong areas
The film takes the time to explain Biblical concepts which are mostly general knowledge, such as creatures and events, again and again and again. It’s not necessary since these are some of the most famous elements of Biblical stories, even if you’re not of the faith. Then it fails to explain what Huntington’s disease is, which is not a common ailment. The visuals don’t really show you the symptoms and effects of Huntington’s disease, leading you to wonder how fatal and disruptive the sickness is. Explaining what is common knowledge and not explaining esoteric illnesses is what makes the film difficult to understand at times.
There are two distinct plot lines in the film - the story of Anna Waters’ family, and the investigation of the antagonist’s schemes. Both are presented as disparate stories that have no link, and it feels like two shorter movies woven together into one. They could have been linked together earlier, or at least intertwined more strongly to prevent them from being so disjointed. As it stands, the movie could have been split into “The Faith of Anna Waters” and “The Adventures of Two Priests.” It’s that disconnected.
Father Matthew Goh (Adrian Pang) in “The Faith of Anna Waters.” (Golden Village Pictures)
“The Faith of Anna Waters” treats us to visuals of Singapore on the big screen, but is ultimately an unsatisfying story.
Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.
Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? No.
“The Faith of Anna Waters” opens in cinemas 12 May, 2016 (Thursday).