Movie Review: Newly laid-off, haunted by his impending “Repossession”

A 50 year-old man loses his job and finds his home, family and very life are subject to “Repossession” in this new thriller from Singapore.

That plot summary has a lot more potential to it than the choppy, hard to follow and not at all frightening film that co-writer/directors Ming Siu Goh and Scott C. Hillyard turned in.

It’s “choppy” because while flashbacks purport to fill in a story that takes forever to get down to business, big gaps in what we’re meant to know remain. We can’t keep track of what is real and what isn’t because the filmmakers didn’t. And it’s literally choppy at times, as jump-cuts work their way into the would-be terror, totally taking the viewer out of the moment, if indeed it had any notion of drawing us in for a good scare.

If you’ve ever lost a job, you can identify with what happens to Jim Tan (Gerald Chew of “Wonder Boy”). The entire chilly process is offensive and humiliating. When the layoff hits and he refuses to sign a letter of resignation or the letter of termination, he takes things one step further by lashing out at the boss who gives him her best “It’s out of my hands.”

He’s so crushed he can’t tell his wife Linda (Amy Cheng of “Crazy Rich Asians”), who fills her days with charity work, work that often includes her writing a big check. They have a live-in maid and a daughter (Rachel Wan) in college. Their condo has a pool, and he drives an Audi.

And he’s not inclined to listen to the advice of his old army buddy (Sivakumar Palakrishnan) who all but orders him to tell his wife, sell the car and job hunt like mad.

“Repossession” goes seriously wrong by devoting its first hour to Jim’s job interviews, his dabbling in day trading and his secret work driving a ride-share.

It isn’t just agism, periodic downsizing and an ebb and flow economy that are working against him. Something more sinister has it in for him. We think. Or he thinks.

Is it paranoia that has him seeing spectral things, flashing back to a telling moment from his and his sister’s childhood or another army days “episode?” Or did that teen (Matthew Loo) he knocked down with his car who later tells him a dullish story about a monster who devoured a village have some message he was cryptically trying to pass on?

“You look down,” the sage kid says (in English). “Bad things happen when you’re down.

Whatever the viewer pieces together in her or his head, the movie doesn’t pass along straightforward answers. There’s nothing resembling a cause-and-effect, here. We can guess that there is, but there’s too little information to settle the matter.

As the film jumps around with those two flashback timelines, events in the present day seem to mimic events of the past, with the suggestion that whatever made bad things happen then is back to make similar things today.

Only that’s not clear, either. Is it all just in his head, as the narrative ignores this “possessed” moment or that exorcism, jumping ahead as if they never happened?

So confused. So confusing. So NOT scary or edifying. So why bother?

Rating: unrated, horror violence, profanity

Cast: Gerald Chew, Amy Cheng, Sivakumar Palakrishnan, Rachel Wan and Matthew Loo

Credits: Scripted and directed by Ming Siu Goh and Scott C. Hillyard. A Gravitas Ventures release.

Running time: 1:34

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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