When John Gray wrote Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, he must have based it on a couple like Jacquelin Ch’ng and Sammy Sum. The two stars of Hong Kong horror flick Are You Here had differing opinions about everything from movie scenes to relationship dynamics.
In the movie produced by Patrick Kong and directed by Jil Wong, they play a cash-strapped young couple operating an IT company with two other friends, Kiang (Alan Luk) and Fun (Jumbo Tsang). Just as they are going through some tough times, a wealthy old lady offers them a huge reward to complete an eerie app that her deceased son was working on.
The only catch is that they have to immerse themselves in the paranormal world of the Chinese ouija board, a casual divination game that involves the inviting of nearby wandering spirits to assist in the consultation.
Lung (Sum) is overjoyed but Mun (Ch’ng) is averse to the idea. Although the money will help to settle all their bills, he thinks they risk inviting more trouble into their lives by dabbling in the supernatural. He is proven right when they begin to see and hear strange things right after they accept the job and start playing the ouija board.
During a recent press conference in Petaling Jaya, Selangor to promote Are You Here, Ch’ng, 35, and Sum, 32, shared their very differing experiences with the Chinese ouija board.
Ch’ng cheerily told of how she used to play with the Chinese ouija board as a Malaysian school girl. “My friends and I played quite frequently, while we were still schooling. As girls, we’d ask questions about our future boyfriend’s surname or future husband’s occupation and other similar things. Later, when we got nervous about taking exams, we started asking about our test scores. Would you believe it? Those were actually quite accurate,” laughed the statuesque beauty.
Hong Kong actor Sum, on the other hand, had never attempted the ouija board before signing on to film the movie.
“It’s very simple for me. If there is a chance that you’ll attract ghosts or get possessed by them, I’d never touch it. So, when I had to play the Chinese ouija board for a scene in the movie, I immediately consulted Jacquelin because she has the most experience with it. She told me that as long as I didn’t take it too seriously, everything would be fine. So, as an actor, I portrayed the role very seriously; but when it came to playing the ouija board, I took her advice and tried not to read too much into it.”
One of the scenes in Are You Here tells of the decisions the couple make after hearing a story about a loving husband and wife who wanted to die for each other. They are issued a challenge by the Grim Reaper, who makes them choose just one person to die, by playing rock-paper-scissors.
In the end, the wife played scissors and the husband played paper, so the Grim Reaper killed the husband. The wife was grief-stricken because they had both agreed to play rock.
“After she heard this story, Mun felt that Lung was not to be trusted. After all, the husband in the story didn’t keep his promise and decided to play paper instead of rock. If the wife did not play scissors, then she would have died instead. Based on Lung’s recent actions, Mun figured that she could probably do better without him,” said Ch’ng, explaining the woman’s last minute change.
But Sum begged to differ, as he had a more romantic explanation. “I discussed this with my men friends, and they all agreed that the husband anticipated that his wife loved him so much that she would try to save him by playing scissors, so he decided to sacrifice himself by playing paper. In the end, it was the husband who did not give up on his wife.”
Commenting on the man’s sacrifice, Sum offered: “Among my male friends, we’ve always believed in less talk and more action. So for us guys, since action speaks louder than words, we’re less likely to say romantic words. We’d rather do something meaningful, to show how much we care.”
Ch’ng however, preferred to talk things out and put all the cards on the table. “It’s better to tell each other what we are thinking and how we are feeling, whether we are happy or sad. That way we can understand each other better, and there will be less opportunities for misunderstanding,” she concluded.
Are You Here is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.