Top Stories

Sign Up for our newsletter now.


Frightened to death: The high cost of horror films

by | 10 October 2017, 5:42 PM

As someone who loves films, I’ve always had a soft spot for the horror genre.

I especially respected the auteurs who could subtly unsettle you without having to resort to jump-scares. Despite being a huge scaredy cat, I somehow still loved the thrill of being frightened to death. I even did my honours thesis on Yeon Sang-ho‘s zombie films!

However, there came a point when this feeling of being unsettled refused to go away. That began to make me think: Is this really just a bit of innocent fun? Or am I giving time to something truly insidious?

What really goes on when we watch a horror movie? 


One of my first experiences with horror movies was when my former cell leader took us guys to his place to watch The Exorcism of Emily Rose. In retrospect, the movie wasn’t put together well, but I still found it terrifying as a 15-year-old teenager.

While this incident occurred many years back, I still vividly recall watching a scene where the family calls a priest to bless their home, having discovered that it’s haunted. Invariably, it all goes awry when the priest arrives at night and is himself set upon by demonic manifestations.

At the precise moment of these onscreen manifestations, something else was happening in the room where we were watching the movie.

None of my guy friends there felt it then, but I did. I remember feeling a cold and concentrated gust of wind bursting through the half-open window at the side of the room. The gale seemed to sweep through the house, until the door at the end of the corridor slammed shut. No one else was around but us.

I was shaken. Everyone wrote it off as “wind”, but I knew that something was terribly amiss about that experience.

But I’m not the only one who’s ever opened a door to the dark. My friend, Charis — who like me was also a huge horror fan — had an even more oppressive encounter:

“The worst experience I had was when I watched The Conjuring. I watched it three times with different people in my house. The attack came after the third time when I was sleeping. Nightmares were “normal” to me, but this nightmare was different. In it, I somehow knew I was awake.

So, realising this wasn’t just a dream, I tried to wake up, but I couldn’t. It was as if this terrible force was shutting my eyelids so tightly I couldn’t even open them. I knew something was wrong, and I tried to shout “Jesus!” But my throat was “stuck” — my lips were sealed.

Suddenly, a very strong force began to press straight down on my throat. I was used to blocked airways while sleeping, but again, this was different – something was attacking me. I couldn’t call for help; I was being strangled. In my mind, I prayed and rebuked the evil spirit in Jesus’ name for what felt like 10 minutes. Then my lips opened and I started praying aloud. Thereafter I was able to open my eyes, and I was back.

 In the pitch-black, staring at the ceiling, I prayed and asked God to reveal to me any doors I had opened to evil. Then, The Conjuring came to mind. I prayed for Jesus to cleanse me of all defilement by His blood, to protect me from evil, and I stopped watching horror shows for good.”

Through her experience, it dawned on me why these manifestations could happen. I was suddenly convicted that I had been doing the very opposite of what Ephesians 4:27 exhorts us to do: “Give no opportunity to the devil”.

With each horror film I watched, I was ceding ground to Satan. I was essentially saying to the spiritual realm: “I want to be terrified. That last one wasn’t scary enough. I’m inviting Fear in again for the next two hours – now do your worst”.


In some sick way, I began to crave a thrill like the one I had in my cell leader’s house. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think there’s something incredibly seductive about coming close to death. Some might get their rush through extreme sports like skydiving, but I got my high from horror.

Soon, I needed more. A year later – after my O levels – I went on an intense horror movie binge. I watched them from all over: Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Hollywood. I probably saw dozens in just a few months.

I only realised later that by watching so many gore movies, I had partaken of an “orgy” (Galatians 5:21-22) of gratuitous violence. And through the many horror films I had seen, I soon lost all power and self-control – and instead gained fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

It was all taking its toll on me. I wasn’t sleeping properly. When I woke in the middle of the night, even mere shadows seemed malicious to me. Yet these were merely caused by the cars downstairs, the headlights of which would shine through my window’s grilles to play along the walls.

Through the many horror films I had seen, I soon lost all power and self-control – and instead gained fear.

Working in Army and Air Force camps, I became highly sensitised for a time to the demonic realm. I will never forget pretending to sleep, as the padlocks’ spinning dials whirled and knocked against the lockers, though no one was standing at their lockers or awake in the middle of the night.

I also won’t forget sneaking into a secluded part of camp – an old condemned room in the gym – to take a nap. I had an out-of-the-body experience then, and I could see a ghastly white woman coming closer to where I was napping in the tiny room.

Calling on the Name of Jesus was the only thing that kept evil from ever touching me. But I foolishly came unnecessarily close.

At times, the fear grew so oppressive I couldn’t even take a bath properly. I’d be shampooing my hair and some suds would go into my eye, and I’d be certain I was about to be brutally murdered in the shower à la Psycho.

I’m half-serious on that last one, but personal experience has shown me that there’s a lot more at stake than I thought. So, unlike the final girl who unquestioningly, invariably enters the haunted house, we need to know exactly what we’re walking into.


  • Going to Video Ezy to choose and spend money on a horror film
  • Bringing the horror film home
  • Putting the disc into the player, and pressing “Play”
  • Spending 2 hours being frightened and shocked
  • Carrying that fear with you thereafter
  • Repeating this cycle

Actions like these were my conscious decisions to open a door to fear and demonic influence in my life. Increasingly defiled by the gore and horror of what I was regularly seeing, I was ceding more and more ground to the demonic realm.

Something had to change, so I made a decision to give horror up. I told God that the only fear I wanted was a reverential one. I wanted a holy fear (Psalm 2:11) that would sanctify – not horrify.

All the manifestations stopped when I repented and told God I wanted to be cleansed of the defilement. Every oppression ceased.

When I stopped chasing death and started choosing life instead, the all-pervasive fear left and was replaced by Peace.

I told God that the only fear I wanted was a reverential one; I wanted a holy fear.

The heart behind this article isn’t punitive, prohibitive or prescriptive. To the brother or sister who still actively enjoys horror films, the last thing I want to do is to leave you feeling condemned. I write this humbly as a person who learnt that horror doesn’t profit – it costs peace and protection.

So when it comes to watching horror films – or indeed doing anything – it really isn’t a question of whether I can. The question to ask is whether it helps us to run the race better.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

Are horror movies true-noble-right-pure-lovely-admirable-excellent-praise worthy? Are they beneficial (1 Cor 6:12)? I’m hard-pressed to answer how two hours of fear would be any help on my heavenward journey.

Now think about yours – what kind of fear do you have in your life?


Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.


We Recommend


Don’t follow your heart

by Fiona Teh


Life with the greatest showman I know

by Fiona Teh


Greater Love: Chicken soup for the Cineleisure Auntie

by Yeo Huang Hao


Don’t follow your heart

by | 19 February 2018, 11:17 AM

Don’t follow your heart.

Sure, most hearts do a fine job of pumping blood to keep us alive. But while it sustains life – it doesn’t lead us well at all. 

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

I’m sure you’ve felt the fickle nature of your own heart before. Right when we think we finally know what our heart wants – we’ve changed our minds by the next moment.

Our minds rationalise and soothe our easy hearts that it’s OK to run away from things we hate or fear. So we escape, and strive to find fulfilment in all manner of things.

Consider what’s frequently right at your fingertips: Instagram, Facebook, Netflix, YouTube – porn. These are so easily the well-worn holes which an escapist crawls into willingly.

But some holes are pits.

“I just wanted to disappear. Specifically, I wanted to disappear to an isolated and desolate place that reflected how I felt inside.” said Holly Baxter, who spent five weeks along the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia to escape social media.

Has your heart ever felt like escaping? You may even have thought of doing something like Baxter. I suppose that’s one way of being in touch with ourselves – by being somewhere which encompasses our inner turmoil.


Here’s the point: What really needs to be changed is what’s happening on the inside.

If we’re restless and constantly on the run, it more than likely reflects an absence of peace within. And sure, life can be difficult – but life is difficult.

The real question is: What do you have in this difficult life that’s unshakeable (Psalm 62:6)? My gentle words are that you find it, because a day will come when what your whole life stands upon is tested.

There is just one thing in this world worth pursuing. It is Jesus Christ – only Jesus satisfies!

“Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:25-26)

We were made to walk with God, we who are so prone to walk away. I want to tell you with all my being – shout it from the rooftops – that He is enough. We have all we’ll ever need in God.

We cannot go wrong by desiring Him, so let us choose and love Him.


Fiona is secretly hilarious and one of her dogs thinks so too. She loves a good chat with strangers, store assistants, and fluffy dogs.


We Recommend


How should we respond when a church leader falls?

by Ada Chua


From dying to flying

by Kenneth Chew


Walking on water

by Michele Lim


Belinda Lee: My mother’s unwavering faith

by | 15 February 2018, 3:37 PM

As she recalled her mother’s final days in her 6-year-long battle with cancer, Belinda Lee took a moment to compose herself before she continued.

The former Mediacorp actress and host spoke of moments when her mom would get up in the middle of the night, when she was in great pain, to cry out to God.

“At that time, she was already on morphine and was very weak. I don’t know where she got the energy from, but she would shout with all her strength for God to take her home.”

“She would cry out with all her might like this: ‘Jehovah, I beg you to bring me home.’

“It was then that my family knew that she was ready to go home. It was painful for us to let her go but we knew that she was ready,” Belinda said.

It was the beginning of the end of a journey which saw her mother go from being anti-Christian to embracing the love of Jesus.

Said Belinda: “My mom, who told the whole world that she would never become a Christian, received Christ when I was in Bible college, and she actually got water baptised on her own without telling the family.

“To me, that shows how true her conviction was, because she willingly did it on her own without pressure from anyone – she did it on her own accord because she truly wants to know who this amazing God is, and she welcomed Him into her life.”

(Belinda Lee’s sharing on her mother’s faith begins at 40:44 in this video)

Belinda shared that her mother, who was illiterate, would pray for God to teach her how to read the Bible.

And He did.

“A miracle happened one day. She came to me beaming with joy, sharing that God answered her prayer and she could finally read the Bible! Not every work, but she was able to at least understand the gist of what she was reading.”

Belinda found it hard to believe, but was encouraged by a neighbour, who said the same prayer had come true for her own elderly parents. “She told me that I have too little faith in God!”

And the way her mother spent her last days stood out to Belinda.

“A week before she finally took her last breath, she instructed one of my aunties to cook a scrumptious breakfast to serve her friends, the members, and the pastors of the Chinese Church she was attending – because that was what she used to do when she was still mobile.”

Belinda recalls her mom saying this to her in Hokkien: “Belinda, I wasn’t educated and I’m not good at studying, but I know how to cook. With my gift, I hope that I can serve God and His children.

“My mom was a dying women, but while on her deathbed, she wasn’t thinking about her own needs or blaming God. All she was thinking about was how she could continue serving God and His people to the very end of her life.

“Mom did not fear death because she believed with all her heart that our Abba Father was going to welcome her with open arms and personally lead her through the white gates of heaven when she meets Him one day.”

“I was told I was doomed to fail”: Belinda Lee’s journey from insecurity to purpose


Fiona is secretly hilarious and one of her dogs thinks so too. She loves a good chat with strangers, store assistants, and fluffy dogs.


We Recommend


I can’t change my boyfriend, but I can love him

by Aria Lee


The relationship I never wanted

by Olivia Lee


6 steps to stop bitterness

by Dawn Seow


Porn and the things I’d rather love

by JH Kwek | 12 February 2018, 9:16 PM

It has been said that there are two types of men: Those who watch porn, and liars.

The truth is I belong to both categories.

My struggle with pornography began when I was 11. I was surfing the web when I stumbled onto some highly sexualised anime clips. Ever since then, this thorn, this drug, this corruption has been with me.

I’ve tried my whole life to break free, only for each attempt to end in failure. I got really good at lying about it though. Even when I confessed this sin to my cell members, I managed to phrase it in a way that made me look like the victim – like I was really trying my best and somehow that was enough.

It was like there was no real consequence to remaining in my addiction, as long as I cried and looked like I didn’t like it.

But I did.

I loved it: Every lustful moment in the toilet, every fantasy fired up by sensual Instagram posts, every filthy thought – I revelled in all of it. I knew the sinfulness of my addiction, but I didn’t really believe it. I was deluded, a man who thought nothing of eternity and only of the momentary high that came each night I gave in to my lust.

The struggle against pornography is often portrayed as a noble war, as if we’re righteous creatures born into a broken world, battling the forces of lust that seek to ruin us.

But we are not righteous creatures. We are dead creatures (Ephesians 2:1). We don’t just sin – we love to sin. We delight in it. We take pleasure in it. By ourselves we are so far from righteousness.

When God shook me out of my stupor, I finally saw how great my sin was – but I also had my eyes opened to the vastness of His grace.

The struggle against pornography is not a mere struggle to stop loving porn: It is a struggle to love Christ – and love Him more than anything else. So my problem wasn’t that I loved pornography – my problem was that I didn’t love Christ.

How then can a dead man love Christ? He can when he is brought to life.

My problem wasn’t that I loved pornography – my problem was that I didn’t love Christ.

And that was exactly what God did for me. In the quiet moment of a ministry retreat’s worship session, I read Ephesians 2 and became utterly convicted of my sin and sinful nature.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved …” (Ephesians 2:1-5)

There and then, I repented, and asked God to bring me back to life.

And He did. He called me back to life.

That’s the power of the Holy Spirit. As the words of Ephesians 2 filled my mind, He began to convict my heart of my very real state of sin, that I was indeed dead in my trespasses and sins, carrying out the desires of my body and my mind, just like the rest of mankind.

But the same Spirit who convicted me of my sin also revealed to me so mercifully and lovingly that God, because of the great love with which He had for me, was calling me out of death in my sin to a redeemed life with Jesus Christ. It is by grace I have been saved.

There are so many of us – men and women – who struggle with an addiction to pornography. I still struggle with it. Porn is undeniably pleasurable. Speaking from experience, it is one of the strongest and most addictive pleasures I’ve ever come across.

But I can also speak from experience, that the cross of Christ brings a permanent joy and satisfaction that pornography can’t even touch. How blind I was! And how blind I still can be!

God gifted us priceless pleasure and fullest joy in His Son – yet we reject Him for worthless things. Father, forgive us!

A dead man can only love Christ when he is brought to life.

The cross of Christ brings a permanent joy and satisfaction that pornography can’t even touch.

You may seek love in pornography, relationships or achievements – after all, we were designed to receive love. But there is a better way.

It is the love that God gives to us. It’s the same love that caused Him to send His only Son into the world, so that we who were doomed to die might live through Him. All this while we did not yet love Him. Our Father loved us, and sent his Son to pay our debts (1 John 4).

I pray that God brings you back to life and opens your eyes, that His Son is no longer just words on a page to you, but the very real and tangible pleasure that surpasses all other pleasures.

A heart full of Christ has neither need nor want of porn. Help us to want and need you God – bring us back to life!


We Recommend


“I was told I was doomed to fail”: Belinda Lee’s journey from insecurity to purpose

by Eudora Chuah


I can’t change my boyfriend, but I can love him

by Aria Lee


“So help me God”: Wrestling with my calling to the Bar

by Ada Chua


Tired of facing the usual questions at CNY?

by | 12 February 2018, 2:57 PM

You’ve always loved Chinese New Year (CNY). Meeting family and friends, stuffing your face with calories, receiving hongbao – what’s not to like?

Yet the older you got, the less excited you became for the season. Somewhere along the way you traded the enthusiasm for apprehension.

Well, you’re looking forward to the hongbao and the food … It’s the conversations you’re obliged to have that you dread.

  • How’s your job?
  • Do you have a girlfriend/boyfriend?
  • When are you getting married?
  • When are you having kids?

It’s the questions, man. Every year they ask the same questions and every year you give the same answers. It’s old.

So maybe that’s one reason you dread CNY, because of the exhausting questions that add or subtract value –assigning identities – to who you are based on your answers about your job, wife or life.

But you know, there really is only one question worth asking at the end of all these other questions.

Who am I?

You are more than your job, more than your relationship status, more than your bank account, more than what you’ve achieved or what you’ve not, more than how you look or how you dress. Dear friend, you are more than your successes and your failures, more than your reputation – more than an “ENFP” or an “ISTJ” or any combination of letters or numbers someone or something assigned to you.

Why? Because of who God says you really are.

Don’t laugh. You are intrinsically valuable – even if you’ve spent your whole life believing you’re not. This is what God says: You are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him (Psalm 139).

You were designed with intricate thoughts that outnumber the sand grains by the sea, woven tirelessly together. You were made a masterpiece in God’s image (Genesis 1:27)!

You were made fit to walk with angels on streets of gold (Revelation 21:21). If you are a child of the Most High God, then you are an heir to the King (Romans 8:16-17).

There is so much more to life than just going through the motions, dying and being buried in the earth. Snap out of the stupor and realise there’s more to it all than just daily putting in eight hours of work and showing up on Sundays.

There’s a more abundant life for you just waiting to be lived.

If you want this better life, God is waiting to give it to you. If you seek Him first, I promise you that He will show you the better way. But it’s a risk. I won’t hoodwink you: You must throw away the life you had before, to gain one worth keeping.

This isn’t a religion thing. This is about new life. It’s not about systems of reading the Bible, going to church, tithing, attending cell groups and praying regularly. Man, it’s about being reborn!

If you’re sick of this life, then chew on this: Maybe you’re not yet living the one you were made for.

This year, when you’re bombarded by all the usual questions – be the answer.

Be a light which reflects Jesus. Let whatever you think, say and do show God’s goodness. Pray and ask God to make it so that when your friends and relatives see you, they see Jesus.

It’s a hard prayer to make. And if you do make it, don’t be surprised at the challenges that soon come your way. They are the opportunities you were waiting for.

It doesn’t matter what others say about you. Tongues may wag … But well, tongues will always wag no matter what you do. Be the change you want to see in your family. Dare to be different from the expectations that society places on you. 

You’re probably sick of questions but I’ll leave you with a final one: How are you going to be different this year?


Roy has a peculiar appreciation for subtle wordplay, an inexplorable passion for competitive sports, and an insatiable hunger for delicious food.


We Recommend


I have such little faith

by Wong Siqi


When you don’t get what you want

by Khoe Weijun


Love hurts … But not like that

by Roy Tay


What if my family makes for an unhappy CNY?

by | 9 February 2018, 6:05 PM

Happy Chinese New Year! … Or is it?

Speaking to a number of people recently, I’ve realised that the festivities can be a difficult time for some. Not all’s well at family reunions, it increasingly appears to be.

Are you one of them? Are the relationships in your family breaking down faster than traditions can keep them together?

Maybe you once held out hope as a child, that things would get better in the family. Maybe you’ve tried, over the years, to get everyone together – but you no longer see a point to it when you’re the only one trying.

Maybe the relationships in your family are breaking down. Maybe you’re not even sure if there’s going to be a reunion dinner this year.

But what I do know is that it’s easy to feel like everyone else is having an amazing time when you’re scrolling through Instagram. It’s important to have perspective: We’re looking at the highlight reel of other people’s lives on social media.

Think about the things not present on Instagram: Strained relationships, family deaths, generational tensions, divorces, bitterness … The list goes on.

But I’m not interested in staying stuck in self-pity – we don’t have time for that. I want to think about how we can respond, if in reality, our family isn’t that perfect, shiny and colour-coordinated dream we see on-screen.

Love gets harder as we grow up – which only means our love needs growing up too.

British-Ethiopian poet, Lemn Sissay, was fostered from birth and abandoned at the age of 12. By 18, he had lived in four children’s homes. He illustrates the importance of family using the game of squash:

“Family are like the walls in a game of squash. You hit the ball and it comes back at strange angles and you try to get it again … It develops your muscles in strange places, because you have to stretch sometimes to get the ball back in to continue the game.”

You have to stretch sometimes. The stretch is the place where love is learnt. We begin young with the easier stuff: We shared our favourite biscuit with dad, or gave our favourite toy to our sister.

But love gets harder as we grow up – which only means our love needs growing up too!

It’s harder when love requires more from us, like when we’re faced with an aunt whom we just don’t want to tahan any longer. It’s hard when family culture seems impossible to change. It’s hard when money gets involved or when “face” gets in the way.

But when it’s hard that’s precisely when we need to persevere.

It’s not easy to be the first one in the family to say a loving word in response to toxicity or sarcasm. Unity is not easy. It’s not easy to put aside our pride and ask for forgiveness. And it’s not easy to choose to love when others don’t care.

If we give up on family, we never develop the “muscles” that we need. Sissay also says this:

“And that all that would happen throughout my life is that my muscles would waste away beneath me because I’m not using the muscles that develop in the game of family … Family is defined by how it deals with difficult issues. It is strengthened by how it resolves them and weakened when it tries to ignore them.”

So don’t be discouraged if your family is facing difficult issues. Consider what real love is to your family members. Be the one who would love them.

Why should you do it? 1 John 4:19. “We love because he first loved us.” Jesus Christ loved us to the point that He would die for us – all while we were still sinners. God’s love takes the initiative. Jesus did – so we must do the same.

If we give up on family, we never develop the “muscles” that we need.

We may not have gotten the love we needed from our family. We may even have even been disappointed by the very people who were supposed to be our best bets – but we always have a Father in Heaven who loves us perfectly.

“And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:18)

Being filled with our Father’s perfect love for us enables us to love those around us. If your family is challenging, then let it challenge you. That’s where the growth is at.

I pray you’ll have faith to see that your best days are ahead of you. I pray you’ll have hope in God to do what you cannot on your own, and I pray that you will love someone enough to step out of your comfort zone.

Screenshots were taken from our Chinese New Year initiative, “One More Rice Bowl“.


Fiona is secretly hilarious and one of her dogs thinks so too. She loves a good chat with strangers, store assistants, and fluffy dogs.


We Recommend


Self-control isn’t easy

by Wong Siqi


So I just became a father

by Jonathan Cho


I can’t change my boyfriend, but I can love him

by Aria Lee

Article list

Frightened to death: The high cost of horror films

Don’t follow your heart

Belinda Lee: My mother’s unwavering faith

Porn and the things I’d rather love

Tired of facing the usual questions at CNY?

What if my family makes for an unhappy CNY?