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“Shutter” director reveals what scares him

Directors Parkpoom Wongpoom (second from left) and Paween Purijitpanya (far left) with the Spooktacular team and the Alone twins
Directors Parkpoom Wongpoom (second from left) and Paween Purijitpanya (far left) with the Spooktacular team and the Alone twins

Parkpoom Wongpoom With his friendly grin and relaxed demeanour, director Parkpoom Wongpoom may look like a cute and huggable teddy bear. But this is, in fact, the evil genius who brought terror upon the world with his freaky movies Shutter, Alone, and 4bia. Wongpoom – or Aoe – also played a big hand in the construction of this year’s Sentosa Spooktacular, which is modelled after Thai horror hits like Laddaland, Alone, and The Swimmers.

Parkpoom Wongpoom (second from right) at entrance of Sentosa Spooktacular, with director Paween Purijitpanya (bottom left)
Aoe (second from right) at entrance of Sentosa Spooktacular, with director Paween Purijitpanya (bottom left)

He worked with fellow directors Yongyoot Thongkongtoon a.k.a. Sin (4bia, Phobia 2) and Paween Purijitpanya a.k.a. Goff (4bia, Body) to make Spooktacular as terrifying as their movie sets. Weekender chatted with Aoe over an e-interview to find out about Spooktacular’s trails, Shutter’s behind-the-scene moments, and what makes this horror maestro shiver beneath his covers.

Tell us about your role in designing Sentosa Spooktacular.

Sin, Goff, and I have together devoted ourselves fully into this project from designing it on the papers to painting the sets ourselves! … We intend to make every walkthrough scarier, more spectacular, and, most importantly, three times longer than last year.

Director Parkpoom Wongpoom showing off a Sentosa Spooktacular prop
Aoe playing with a Sentosa Spooktacular prop

Which is your favourite trail in Spooktacular?

Every trail has a unique significance to me.  For “Countdown”, I like that it’s a 3D haunted house – I could guarantee its uniqueness and astonishment. It’s a mixture of terror and illusion that the audience will have never experienced before. For “Alone”, it is a castle-like house that we intended to replicate from the movie as much as possible. This house will send chills down your spine. “The Swimmers” will be more frightening, haunting, and intense than the other trails. For those who enjoy the utmost excitement, this is a trail not to be missed.

Aoe’s 2007 movie Alone features two Siamese twins who underwent fatal separation surgery

What is your favourite horror movie classic?

My favourite horror movie is The Exorcist.

How do you figure out what scares people best?

Last year, I observed the visitors by following behind them when they walked into the trails. I found out that every element – sets, lighting, smoke, ‘booing’ areas – is needed to make it as real and detailed as possible. To predict the feelings of the audience or to hide the ghosts in the right area is something we needed to work really hard on. Another thing which I think helps scare people is the story of each trail. We picked those unforgettable scary scenes from the movies and replicate them on the trails.

Movie sets were replicated for Sentosa Spooktacular, such as the dressing table for Alone

Director Paween Purijitpanya said you guys like to prank people. What were some of the pranks you did?

One of the striking pranks I did was a prank on my younger brother. I made a video presentation for his wedding by telling him that his girlfriend has a severe car accident. The cameras were hidden to record my brother’s reactions on his way to hospital where the set-up doctors and nurses were there and prepared to trick him.

You’ve worked a lot with director Banjong Pisanthanakun. Any funny stories about him to share?

There will be laughter all the time working with Banjong, because he always comes up with ideas to change a stressful horror scene into a comical scene. For example, for the flash scene in Shutter, he wanted to make it look like the ghost is dancing in a nightclub.

The iconic ghost scene from the movie Shutter

The “flash scene” that Aoe mentions

Before you started out with horror films, what types of ghosts or folktales were you scared of?

I tend to be scared of the common ghosts that we could potentially see in our daily life, such as in the elevator, car, or bedroom.

If you had a time machine, when would you teleport to and why?

I want to see the ancient world when the world’s greatest people were still alive, and be able to talk to them. For example, the Buddha.

Are you working on any new projects now? What can fans look forward to?

I’m in the process of writing a script for a new hardcore horror TV series, which will be aired next year. By Pamela Chow

Director Parkpoom Wongpoom right and me
Aoe (right) and me

Photo credits: Sentosa Spooktacular, Pamela Chow Sentosa Spooktacular tickets are still on sale! Click here for more information. To get your survival guide to Laddaland, click here. And still undecided on which Halloween event to surrender to? This article will help you make your final choice!