All Hail the Horror!
The Tag Along 2: Hsu Wei-ning and Rainie Yang, our new horror queens.
(Kuala Lumpur) Taiwan’s most successful horror film in the past 10 years, The Tag Along is set to return, with the help of film director Cheng Wei-hao alongside the original cast River Huang and Hsu Wei-ning joined by award-winning actress Rainie Yang, Gao Hui Jun, Shao-hua Long and others in the film’s sequel The Tag Along 2!
The sequel continues the story of the Taiwanese urban legend: the ‘little girl in red’, that took place over 20 years which was surrounded by mysterious disappearing events and people haunted by a little girl in red. The Tag Along 2 will finally reveal to the audience the little girl in red. The story starts with Rainie Yang’s character Li Shu-fen, a social worker who is looking for her missing daughter, she stumbles across an abandoned hospital where she finds Shen Yi-chun (played by Hsu Wei-ning) and discovers a pathway to another dimension. Step by step, she creeps closer to cover the truth of the little girl in red mysterious origins.
Hsu Wei-ning once again reprises her role as ‘Shen Yi-chun’ from the first film. This time she goes beyond being like ‘possessed’ by demon, but also turns into a filthy, insect-eating, bloated abomination whose appearance even scares herself. When she recalls the stomach-churning insect eating scene, she shares: “Actually, those insets were pretty tasty. They’re made of chocolate chips, white sesame seeds, earthworms made from jelly and pupa made from milk candy!”
She however admits that those scenes have also their own over-the-top moments, where she has to grab mucus and smear it all over her face, have real live insects during the scene where some of them would even crawl up her plate during shooting and she would be worrying if she’d end up eating them by accident! But she did admit that since they were already in the deep end, must as well they go all the way to capture the best possible scene. As for her shaven eye-brows, Wei-ning revealed: “Shen Yi-chun was tortured and twisted to take on a non-human form which required me to shave my eye-brows. However due to my other work commitments, I ended up only shaving two-thirds of it.”
For her role in The Tag Along 2, Hsu Wei-ning pushed herself to a breakthrough performance by distancing herself from her friends and family in order to maintain the fragile state her character was trapped in – something that she is still recovering from. Director Cheng had nothing but praises for her: “She is a dedicated professional!” Wei-ning shared: “I was so immersed in the role that I was afraid that I would become ‘Shen Yi-chun’, where I would wake up one day discover that I have become her for real. To best capture the mood and immersion, I completed the 35 days shoot with no family and friends in close contact.”
In her effort to perfect her role, Wei-ning carried out a lot of research by reading up on psychological books and also various books on the topic of spirituality in order to straddle the line between the scientific & the spiritual. One scene in particular required her to perform a dancing scene, where there are no dance steps to follow, and the dancer is to follow the music and allow the ‘darkness within their hearts’ to be exposed, followed by distorted movement of the limbs. It was a scene which took many days, and multiple tries to capture without success before relying on shoes with several layers of insole pads in order for her to keep her balance and finally complete the scene.
In The Tag Along 2 Rainie Yang plays a responsible but overworked social worker. In order to better portray the character, she had to undergo a complete makeup makeover to cover her flawless skin. To bring director Cheng’s vision to life, Rainie’s smooth and supple skin had to be covered up by makeup to establish dark circles around the eyes, form wrinkles and tired skin to better represent a lady who has worked too hard at her job.
When asked which one is scarier: acting in a horror film, or shooting a sequel – Rainie answered with a smile, that she’s afraid of horror films but after signing on to star in The Tag Along 2, she forced herself to watch The Tag Along in order to understand the movie better, even if she had to fast forward most of the scarier scenes. As for her first time working with director Cheng, she shared: “Director Cheng puts a lot of pressure on his actors, challenging us to surpass our limits at every turn with his difficult requests. There were quite a few times when I questioned if I could pull it off and was under tremendous pressure. It’s the first time that I’m still struggling to sleep well even 3 months after shooting ended!”
She shares: “The biggest challenge in The Tag Along 2 is having to act natural in a horror film. For example, my character is a rational, normal person and I have to portray the character in a manner that leads the audience to be curious about the little girl in red story, yet still immersed in the horror film’s atmosphere, which wasn’t an easy task.”
Turns out Hsu Wei-ning and Rainie Yang had worked together on television in the past. Wei-ning shares: “Though the film is more demanding this time around, working alongside Rainie brings forth a peace of mind. No only we’ve worked together in the past, we also have a sense of understanding between us and share a pretty good relationship that enables us to be at ease as we prepare to immerse ourselves in our respective roles.” Rainie Yang adds: “In the film, we need to ensure our characters maintain a degree of separation from one another. So it’s nice to have a familiar face to work with, but we also had to keep in mind to maintain that distance, thus it required a pretty tacit understanding between us.”
The Tag Along 2 will finally reveal to audiences the mystery surrounding the little girl in red past, director Cheng shared. “We did quite a bit of research and investigation to the story and discovered that the abandoned Caroline Park had another exit path, which was where the ‘little girl in red’ first appeared in The Tag Along. Apart from this location, we further consulted a few folklore experts and decided to make Caroline Park a main location in The Tag Along 2, a place that is perfect to send a shiver down one’s spine.
The director also asked Francesca Kao to play mother who is suspected of child abuse, in her first attempt at horror in her 15 year film career. To add an extra level of authenticity to her character, Paicx Yatauyungana had to adopt a bizarre hairstyle that took over 6 hours to perfect, not to mention another 2 hours to apply the tattoo on her neck, hands with Taoism exorcism mantras. Unexpectedly upon the completion of her first day of filming, her family urged her to ‘cleanse’ herself of these un-auspicious elements – truly redefines the meaning of “suffering for her craft”!
Director Cheng Wei-hao shared the greatest challenge he faced when filming The Tag Along 2, is combining the elements of human, deities and demons: 3 distinct planes of existence, into a more horrifying atmosphere. “The story starts with ‘humans’ where these 3 women come to terms of the little girl in red past, and how they have to face their inner demons. With this combination, we get The Tag Along 2’s story to be more complex, with an upgraded story and more complex methods used in filming.” He adds that the film’s 3 main scenes (the abandoned amusement park, the abandoned hospital and cursed house) required the crew to build the scenes from scratch to the impressive settings that we see in the film. “There were scenes which were enveloped in fog, or the ominous feelings in the hospital, River Huang being haunted by spirits, in addition to shooting in the dark – all these made filming very challenging. On top of that, we have a scene that was littered with dead 6 & 7 year old children, some of them reanimated mid-way through which posed a huge challenge to our special effects team, and helped raised the technical difficulty level of the film by a huge margin!”
Director: Cheng Wei-Hao
Actors: River Huang, Hsu Wei-ning, Rainie Yang, Francesca Kao, Shao-hua Long
Shu Fen (Rainie Yang) has been neglecting her 15 year-old daughter Ya Ting LEE. After finding out her daughter is pregnant, she asks her to have an abortion, and they have a huge fight. One day, Ya Ting went missing and Mei Hua LIN the medium of Tiger God believes that Ya Ting was taken by the evil spirits to the mountains. Shu Fen organizes a search party to look for her in mountains together with Jun Kai. Jun Kai finds the unconscious Yi Jun (Wei Ning HSU) in an abandoned mountain hospital. To find her daughter, Shu Fen lets Yi Jun stays at with her only to find more and more bizarre details all connected to the little red dress girl. The three of them decide to go to the mountains together but facing the threats of immense supernatural power, can Shu Fen find her daughter? And can all of them come back together?