Filming Under Way on Cambodia’s First Zombie Movie

Within the vast corridors of Phnom Penh’s derelict Riverside Hotel, a group of teens rush around a corner desperately seeking safety. Behind them, a terrifying groan reverberates out of the darkness.

This was the scene on Friday about halfway through filming what Khmer director King Dom and Italian cinematographer Jimmy Henderson both said would be Cambodia’s very first zombie film.

Actors and crew shoot a scene at Phnom Penh's Riverside Hotel for Cambodia's first zombie film 'Run.' (Siv Channa)
Actors and crew shoot a scene at Phnom Penh’s Riverside Hotel for Cambodia’s first zombie film ‘Run.’ (Siv Channa)

The feature-length film—being produced by a crew working for local production company Arom Films—is titled “Run” and follows a group of young friends caught up in the terrifying aftermath of a strange virus that spreads throughout Cambodia turning those it infects into vicious bloodthirsty zombies.

Cambodia is no stranger to horror films, with low budget thrillers being churned out regularly. But Mr Dom. said the decision to shoot a movie locally based on zombies was a first for Cambodia.

“It is inspired by the Western style of zombie film like ‘28 Days Later,’” he said, referencing Danny Boyle’s 2002 zombie classic. “In Cambodia, I’ve never seen a horror movie with a grounding in science. Just traditional ghosts.”

Mr. Henderson, the film’s co-director and cinematographer, who has worked on a number of film projects in Cambodia, added: “We are trying to bring something fresh and new to Cambodia that goes beyond the movies you see all the time with cheap special effects.”

“We really want to raise the value of Cambodian horror cinema.”

“While it is influenced by Western elements, the film will keep a very Cambodian feel. The characters react to the situation differently to how they would in a Western film.”

“Run” was based on a nine-minute short film of the same name made by the filmmakers last year. After seeing the short film, Westec Media Ltd., a company that specializes in importing Western blockbusters to the Cambodian market, asked them to expand on the concept.

“We made the short and then sent it to Westec Media and they loved the idea. They wanted to make a full-length feature from it,” said Mr. Dom.

Westec Media gave the team a budget of about $10,000 and agreed to distribute the film.

To shoot the full-length version, Mr. Henderson and Mr. Dom gathered a team of student volunteers, who they trained in film production and auditioned for acting roles. Makeup artists were recruited after producers scouted them from YouTube videos.

“It is a strange experience as I have never acted before,” said Nhork Kimhor, a former paralympic athlete who lost his right leg in a demining accident and plays the role of an infected police officer. “It is interesting to see how much work it takes to make a film. Sometimes we need two or three takes to get the shot. We are all trying our best at our new roles to make the film a success.”

Eh Phoutong, a former Khmer boxing champion, is also set to play a part in the film as a military officer infected with the zombie virus.

The film is set for release in September.

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