Haunted Office

And I thought economic times were tough here in New York. It must be really difficult to find a job in Hong Kong these days. Otherwise it would be difficult to explain why anyone in their right mind would be working in the office building that is the setting for much of this film. I don’t know about you but my first sighting of a ghost in the bathroom would have me faxing in my resignation from home – or maybe from the Caribbean! But even with rumors of strange happenings, unexplained deaths and a creepy woman in white who wanders the halls, these folks not only come into work every day but often stay into the late lonely hours when you can only hear the rapid beating of your heart and the slight murmuring whispers from the unseen. This new incursion into the world of film horror is a fairly solid piece of filmmaking – nothing particularly new – but it has an intriguing narrative structure, an element of creepiness, a sense of humor and four major stars that make it go down as easily as a bowl of salted peanuts and a cold beer.
The film consists of three intertwining stories (from three different directors) in which the main characters cross each other’s paths at some point, but it is primarily the location and theme that connect them. To differing degrees the stories are successful in their attempt to create a tingling tale of the supernatural. The first one with Karen Mok is the most realized in terms of character and plot, the second with Jordan Chan has some good moments but has a lackluster ending and the final segment with Stephen Fung and Hsu Chi feels underwritten and holds no real surprises. All three move along quickly though and make for an enjoyable if far from challenging 90-minutes of viewing. The production standards are simple (primarily shot indoors) and low budget but solid and the cinematography is light on its feet.
Like perhaps a thousand horror films before it, this one begins with a panicked woman running madly (and of course stumbling) through the hallways in an attempt to escape from the inevitable – her blood erupting demise. This is only the prelude though to the three tales that follow upon its fleeting heels. Karen Mok works as a trader and begins seeing women laughing hysterically in the bathroom – she thinks it peculiar but not nearly as peculiar as when these same women turn up dead soon afterwards – one by a gruesome hanging, the other with her head smashed down on the Xerox machine. But does she quit and go home to read a good book? No, of course not. In fact she soon gets assigned the late shift – all alone  - the lights down low - and damn does she have to go to the bathroom! Yuen King Tan also makes an appearance in this one.
Jordan Chan is a complete and total schmuck. After he has taken over the loan business that his father had built up over forty years, he neglects his duties and treats his employees poorly. He decides that he has to get rid of a long term employee – Helen Law Lan – by giving her terrible duties such as cleaning his house and doing his laundry in hopes that she will quit on her own. But she doesn’t seem to mind and so he goes away for a vacation and tells his suck up second in command to fire her while he is gone. When he returns though Helen is still there – but something about the place is very wrong and it takes Jordan a while to figure out exactly what that is. Wong Wah Wo (the white haired guy!) is one of the employees. Next up has Stephen Fung joining a new company and immediately falling for the girl in the collection department – the very non-accountant looking Hsu Chi. She seems interested in him as well but her late night work schedule makes things difficult as does the eerie looking female albino who seems to always be watching the both of them. Fung decides to confront this woman (or is she a ghost) – but he discovers a lot more than he bargained for.
As a note, this film seems to be released by two distributors – Deltamac and Tai Seng. I purchased the Tai Seng version and it is simply awful – one of the worst new releases I have come across as of late. Whether I got one from a bad batch or what I don’t know – but the smearing is very distracting – in fact I think the term is ghosting! – co-incidence or not I wonder? It is also very murky and the colors are off – simply a horrible job. I have no idea if the Deltamac version is better or the same one.

(A reader has replied that in fact his Deltamac version is excellent).

My rating for this film: 7.0