Behind the Spookiness of Trapped By Kelvin Tong

Despite the easing of COVID-19 regulations, travelling can never go back to the way it was. Up till now, there has yet to be a clear answer if COVID-19 is completely gone. Unexpected situations and challenges may arise while travelling, causing one to feel “trapped” and helpless. And Income Insurance Limited was keen to convey the feeling as a warning for prospective travellers.

In commemoration of Income Insurance Limited’s launch of its travel insurance with enhanced COVID-19 coverage, a new film, ‘Trapped’, was made. Created by BBH Singapore and directed by Kelvin Tong, a Singaporean film director, screenwriter and producer, the film aims to remind people not to be complacent as the virus is not entirely gone and underestimating its risks can instantly ruin your perfect travel plans.

Kelvin is no stranger to film’s darker elements, having helmed local horror classic The Maid back in 2005. In order to delve deeper into the meaning and inspiration behind the short film, he shared his personal thoughts and experiences to satisfy our curious minds. 

How did the collaboration with Income Insurance come about?

Income Insurance; Trapped Hotel
The misadventures of “Trapped” begins at the mysterious Hello Hotel

When I was invited by the advertising agency BBH to create a short horror film for one of their clients, I was immediately intrigued. It is rare for a corporation to consider using the horror genre in its marketing, and I found it immediately audacious and groundbreaking. 

My excitement about the project grew after I met the Income Insurance team, and I felt the concept of getting COVID-19 while trapped abroad is both timely and intimately scary. For a horror filmmaker like myself, it’s like gold.

How did you come up with the concept for the short film?

Every great horror film begins with something going wrong. The genesis for Trapped can be found in the latest “Things That Can Go Wrong”, such as COVID-19. What if you are on holiday and get infected with COVID-19? What if your travel insurance doesn’t cover that eventuality? And what if that leads to really bad stuff? That’s the starting point of Trapped.

Were there any personal experiences that helped inspire the events in the film?

Income Insurance: Trapped characters
Sarah and Jason are the two unfortunate souls trapped in this horrific situation

Personally, I have not been stranded abroad due to COVID-19, but I had many friends who were. The tales I heard about being cut off from family and friends while infected by a tenacious virus were the stuff of nightmares.

Horror works best when the spark that sets the prairie on fire is innocuous—for example, losing the house keys or running out of gas on a desolate highway. In this case, the spark we chose is COVID-19, as it is timely and still prevalent. 

The narrative I was exploring was – what happens when you get COVID-19 while on holiday and do not have the right insurance coverage? From this question comes the building blocks of our short film Trapped – the missed flights, downgrading to cheaper and more dubious accommodations, the debilitating and hallucinatory effects of an illness such as COVID-19 and the increasing risk of negative factors suddenly entering and changing the course of your life.

There is also a mishmash of traditional (spirits/ghosts) and modern horror (voyeurism) styles; tell us why you decided to blend the two here. 

Income Insurance: Trapped ghost
The ghost is one of several horror elements showcased within the short film

As COVID-19 is a very contemporary subject matter, I felt that it was appropriate to employ a mix of both traditional horror (the supernatural) and modern horror (voyeurism, the dark web).

We wanted audiences to feel besieged and trapped by fear and anxiety. We hope that our two-pronged approach will achieve that. When both the spirit world and the digital world are against you, your chances of surviving are very, very minuscule. That was the horror I wanted to depict.

Have we piqued your interest? Live out the horrors and get some blankets ready while you watch the nightmare travellers Jason and Sarah face in ‘Trapped’. If you haven’t had the chance yet to see the short film yet, fret not, for it is now streaming on their Youtube Channel

But that’s not all. Challenge yourself to escape from being TRAPPED, as Income Insurance has partnered with The Escape Artist to launch a themed immersive escape room to continue the film’s narrative. So if you’re a thrill-seeker, test your wits and solve the mystery of the travel horror story! The escape room will be available to the public from June 2023. Visit Income Insurance’s campaign page for more information.

Lastly, know that Income Insurance has your back while travelling with their travel insurance! You can now travel not only with confidence but peace of mind as it comes with enhanced COVID-19 coverage with no additional add-ons required to provide everyone with two times more COVID-19 coverage for overseas transport and accommodation expenses! More information and details on Income Insurance Travel can be found here

In the meantime, we hope you have happy and safe travels!

Visuals courtesy of Income Insurance.

Sharleen Nadya Shahriman

A socially awkward introvert who's obsessed with fictional characters.

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