Thai actress Aom is sweeping China’s horror fans off their feet with her latest movie Haunted Hotel. The China/Malaysia/Thai joint-production is helmed by Malaysian auteur Ryon Lee (Seventh and The Transcend) and opens in cinemas nationwide on Oct 19.
But in China, where it is known as Haunted Road 2, the movie opened last week to rave reviews from fans and critics alike, with Aom gaining widespread praise as well. Chinese moviegoers were so intrigued by its Malaysian horror elements that the box office takings hit the RMB1mil (RM640,000) mark in just half a day and reached RMB10mil (RM6.4mil) in one week.
Aom (whose Chinese name is Li Haina) plays Bai Ling, a young lady from China who takes a business trip to Malaysia with her fiance Jun (China actor Leon Li Chuan). They win a lot of money at a casino in Genting Highlands, and end up staying the night in a spooky hotel there. After some close encounters with its creepy tenants, she tries to escape with the help of a local man (Malaysian actor Teddy Chin).
Best known for her rom-com roles in Thai remakes of K-drama Full House and J-drama Kiss Me, the 29-year-old Aom (real name Sushar Manaying) says she is fortunate to be part of Haunted Hotel, where she got to work with professionals from both Malaysia and China.
“Haunted Hotel is my first foray into the Chinese-language cinema. I worked very hard and gave it my all. I hope more people will watch our movie and see for themselves all the exciting things that we did,” said Aom during a media conference in Petaling Jaya to launch Haunted Hotel in Malaysia.
Aom stars as the China businesswoman named Bai Ling who has scary experiences in Malaysia in horror thriller Haunted Hotel. Photo: Filepic
How was it like having to shoot the movie in Mandarin?
Language was seriously a major challenge. But it is a Chinese movie, so the director insisted that we spoke our lines in Mandarin. My first language is not Mandarin, so I had to learn my dialogue by heart.
Since the movie is a horror thriller, it got especially tough when my character became excited or angry. She had to speak a lot faster and she usually had a lot more to say when her emotions got the better of her.
What would you say is the scariest thing about Haunted Hotel?
Definitely the location (Amber Court in Genting), because of its reputation as one of the top 10 haunted hotels in Asia and the spooky stories of people who died there. I’ve filmed other horror productions before, but not in a famous haunted location like that. But I did do Hashima Project, a Thai horror movie which was shot on the abandoned Hashima island.
Did you have to make any special preparations for the movie?
It was actually a very physical role, as there was a lot of action. So, I started on a special workout regime to make myself tougher and stronger. My character Bai Ling had to do a lot of running, fighting and falling from great heights. So, I made sure to keep myself fit and improved my stamina with cardio training.
Can you tell us about that dangerous-looking wire scene where you fall from a great height and end up dangling from some cables?
That was quite scary, because the scene is based on true events where a girl actually fell several floors and landed where I was supposed to be (suspended upside-down from the cables). The director did not tell me about it, but I did some research and found out anyway. Also, the wirework was especially challenging for me as my skin bruises easily.
Even so, I decided to do it for the experience. I actually looked forward to doing my own stunts as I wanted to learn more about doing action scenes. I admit it looked very dangerous, but I felt confident about attempting that scene as I knew all the proper safety measures had been taken.
Did you experience any eerie encounters on the set?
Actually, I have never had such experiences. Even when I was shooting other horror movies. I keep hearing other people tell scary stories. Some actors say they felt something watching them from behind while shooting the movie. But I have no scary stories of my own to share as I have never seen anything with my own eyes.