Tedd Chan as Tan
Henley Hii as Jeremy
Mark Lee as Sergeant Kuah
Tommy Kuan as Lim
23:59 is a remarkably difficult film to review. It’s the kind of picture that really leaves you without words. There are a wealth of positive things going for the film, but the most significant element, the story is too murky to make much sense of. The flick is quite obviously a ghost story (about a vengeful spirit who haunts a specific dorm one minute before midnight, on a regular basis), and yes, this is without one murderous ghost. However motivation for murder is never clearly outlined, and the general conflict and backstory are shaky at best.
Those issues make for a tough verdict. Visually the film is rather impressive. The lighting is beautiful, the military bunk (in which plenty of the action takes place) looks believable and the outdoor shots look stellar. To top it off, the cast turns in a wonderful collective performance, balancing dread and machismo in flawless measure. Virtually every member of the focal ensemble brings a pronounced and distinctive personality to the film, and that enables viewers to invest in the good guys, despise the assholes and dedicate a hint of pity to the pathetic. These guys hit their marks, and manage to create the proper mood through a wide variety of tonal shifts. And despite the varying characters, they really all do fit quite well together.
If you’re after a film that looks good, this one will satisfy. The special effects are damn impressive, although it must be noted that they’re severely underused. There are a couple of jaw dropping shows, but they’re sparse, and sadly, the most impacting gore sequence unfolds inside the first five minutes (and of course, you’ll get a peek at it in the trailer). It’s an absolutely gorgeous shot that gets the blood pumping. But we don’t see anything near as spectacular throughout the remainder of the film. That said, the CGI is pretty much disposed of here, and what nasty shots do await, are fairly rewarding.
For the first time in ages, this reviewer is left with little to express. 23:59 isn’t a bad film, and it isn’t a good film. It has bad moments, and good moments, but nothing really grabs the viewer with a firm enough grasp to force recollection. In five years, no one will talk about this film. It simply falls into a void of forgetfulness. And if by chance you do somehow remember this one down the line, you’ll likely remember the chaos of the story itself. It’s all over the place. From ghostly women, to forced suicide to (never saw this one coming) a completely out of place Exorcist-like scene, there’s simply no firm straw to grasp.
If you’re bored, with little to do on a Wednesday night, 23:59 may hold your attention for a brief spell. But if you’re seeking a genre piece that’s going to call your name time and again after initial viewing, this is not the movie for you. I issue big respect to the cast, but any serious praise really dies there. There are the makings of a good picture here, but they’re all random puzzle pieces that never fully fit together.