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The Straits Times
Feb 14, 2023
A horror film about a first-time mother who begins experiencing strange things when her confinement nanny moves in to take care of her baby may seem like a taboo project for a new bride.
But local actress Rebecca Lim is raring to go.
The 36-year-old, who tied the knot with husband Matthew Webster in November 2022, takes the lead in the upcoming local psychological thriller Confinement, written and directed by home-grown film-maker Kelvin Tong (The Maid, 2005) and co-starring Cynthia Koh as the mysterious confinement nanny fleeing her abusive husband.
At a press event on Tuesday to celebrate the start of production, Lim – who is trying for a baby off-screen – says: “There were people who asked me if I was sure I wanted to be in this (movie) because it involves getting pregnant, having a kid and strange things happening to someone who just gave birth.
“But I’m very good at compartmentalising. I’m very clear that this is just part of my work, and a good script doesn’t come along very often.”
Photo: The Straits Times
Lim was approached by Tong, 51, for the role even before she got engaged in 2021. However, the pandemic held the filming up.
Tong, whose last feature film was the exorcism horror The Faith Of Anna Waters (2016), jokes: “When it finally came time to shoot again, I saw the news that Becks (Rebecca) was getting married. I was, like, ‘Oh, will she be too happy to film this now?‘”
Despite Confinement’s potentially anxiety-inducing take on parenthood, Lim says the role might be good practice for motherhood.
“We have to hold and act with a real baby, so maybe it helps,” she says.
And absence will make the heart grow fonder for Lim and her husband, since filming starts on Feb 22 in Malaysia and is slated to last for a month.
Confinement is the second in a string of four Mandarin films that streaming platform iQiyi and local film production house Clover Films are set to co-produce, following 2022’s Reunion Dinner.
The film is presented in association with G.H.Y Culture & Media, Celestial Tiger Entertainment and Boku Films.
Confinement, which has a production budget of $1.2 million, is expected to hit the big screen later in 2023.
When asked why he chose the topic of confinement, Tong – who has two daughters aged four and seven– says stories about confinement nannies, like maids, run the gamut from horrifying to amazing.
“There are a lot of stories to mine in being a parent. In confinement, you’re a new mother taking care of a new baby, and suddenly there’s a stranger in the house who has more authority than you.”
Confinement will mark the first major movie roles – and maiden ventures into the horror genre on the big screen – for Lim and Koh.
Koh, 48, says: “I read the script three times. When (Tong) asked me how I felt about the story, I told him, ‘Shiok‘. Because as an actress, when you get a great role, you really feel this urge to want to do your best.”
Still, both actresses do not enjoy scary movies, though Lim’s husband likes horror. Koh says she is still scarred by the final scene of Thai horror flick Shutter (2004).
But Tong, who describes Confinement as more of a thriller than a horror film, says: "The sets of horror movies or thrillers are not scary. In fact, they are quite comedic, because you might just see the ‘ghost’ of the movie squatting by the side and eating cai png (economy rice)."