The recent development from a number of the Hong
Kong horror films in providing an authentically creepy, non-goofy narrative
is certainly welcomed by me. The usual inclusion of comic relief in horror
films has always been one of my cinematic pet peeves and Hong Kong horror
films often slowed to a tedious crawl when this came about. Give me chills
and curdling tension all the way through anytime. With films like The Eye,
Inner Senses, Visible Secret, Horror Hotline and Going Home (the HK segment
of Three), it feels like HK cinema has finally grown up in regards to horror
and fear. Part of this no doubt is an attempt to appeal to an audience
outside of Hong Kong where the comic relief bits don’t play so well. The
huge worldwide success of the Ring and The Sixth Sense has really forced
HK filmmakers to adjust their way of making horror films. This low budget
film continues this trend and delivers a nicely focused film that drips
with unease from beginning to end.
There isn’t a very well known cast here and much
of the film finds it’s feet in a nearly deserted hospital, a psycho ward,
dark lonely streets, a mortuary and a temple – but the edgy cinematography
draws out every ounce of eerieness that it can with off kilter shots, a
distorted perspective, spooky images, cold antiseptic colors and a fast
moving camera. There really isn’t a light moment to be had as director
Cheang Pou-soi (Horror Hotline, Diamond Hill) immediately plunges the viewer
into a dark spiral that he relentlessly follows throughout the film. The
young cast of Bernard Chow, Cyrus Chow, Winnie Leung and Niki Chow are
quite solid here – Niki in particular is impressive as she gets a good
starring role that gives her more to do than look cheery and lovely. Her
possible descent into madness is the emotional guts of the film.
It begins with an attempted double suicide of
lovers – a deep slice to the wrists and both reach out for an early death.
Before they get there though they are taken to the hospital and three blood
donors with their rare blood type are able to save the man’s life – but
not the girl’s (Winnie Leung) – and she is very displeased indeed as she
finds herself all alone in her next journey. The three blood donors (Niki,
Bernard and Cyrus) leave the hospital feeling that they have done a good
deed – but not all good deeds are rewarded in this life – some good deeds
kill you in fact. Soon all three of them begin having frightening nightmares,
begin seeing a blank eyed ghost staring at them, find their wrists suddenly
bleeding and slowly they begin to unravel in a fast trajectory to insanity,
despair and possession. This spirit wants her comatose boyfriend to join
her by any means necessary.
Like a lot of these low budget horror films, this
one doesn’t always make sense, people’s motivations are not entirely clear,
the ending is more than a bit puzzling – and after having spent some fair
time in hospital wards I always get annoyed when there never seems to be
a nurse within screaming distance in films – but otherwise this film is
an excellent entry into this new HK fling into serious grim horror films.
I also really enjoyed the way it plays with the concept of bad things happening
to good people through no fault of their own and with very little sympathy
displayed from the filmmaker for their misfortune.
My rating for this film: 7.5