Director: Juno Mak.
Starring: Chin Siu-ho Anthony Chan Kara Hui Lo Hoi-pang Paw Hee-ching. Hong Kong. 1h 41m.
A detailed and superb Hong Kong film directed by Juno Mak, is a tribute to the Mr Vampire (1985+) series and features many of the same actors.
A formerly successful actor Chin Siu-ho (the star of Mr Vampire), becomes depressed and suicidal when he wife leaves him. He moves into a run down apartment and soon after his welcoming ceremony he decides to hang himself, but as he’s losing consciousness a pair of twin ghosts possess his body. Yau, a retired vampire hunter breaks in, cuts him down and exorcises the spirits from Chin’s body.
Chin goes to Yau’s restaurant and thanks him, they talk over a bowl of “glutinous rice” that Yau cook to keep the Jiangshi away, Chin then meets a lot of his unusual neighbours, including Yang Feng, a traumatized woman with an albino son, Pak, a seamstress called Auntie Meiyi, and her husband Uncle Tung. Later that night Tung tells Meiyi that he has to go away and she must wait for him, in reality he’s been lured down some stairs by a ghostly figure and breaks his neck. Gau (a black magic practitioner) discovered his body and preserves it for Meiyi who then requests that he resurrects her husband whose corpse is being kept in the bathroom.
Chin later discovers that Yin has been providing shelter for Yang and Pak who are connected to the ghostly twins, with the aid of flashbacks their demise in room 2442 is related to Chin, he seeks help from Yau to exorcise the twins for good, together they manage to lure them out and dispose of them much at the expense of Chin who is used as bait.
Now it might sounds like I’ve gone into great details about this film, but this is literally the point when things start getting creepier, guys start pulling out old family relics and the regenerated corpse takes on a whole new persona.
The film is steeped in lots of mysterious and dark events, ghosts, vampires, spirits, both modern and ancient ideas on what they are, their manifestation and how to fight and kill them. The effects are kept to a minimum but executed well and actually enhance the film rather than taking over and the overall production is to be commended.
There are lots of suggestions to the alternative ending at the end, yep as soon as you think you’ve worked it out, things change, mostly just to confuse the audience but if you watch it through again it makes more sense and it’s incredibly rewatchable.
Some of the CSI style graphics, are reminiscent of Dragon (2011), where broken necks and other injuries are slowed down and depicted in an x-ray fashion, a bit bizarre for a ghost story but it seems to strive to show the grisly details, and the film is incredibly atmospheric with long dark corridors with ample heights for ghosts and impossibly tall unknown creatures to skulk around. The use of slow mo can get slightly annoying at times but watching the ghosts swim around in the air is slightly hypnotic. But don’t let the special effects fool you this film is highly addictive with lots of interesting storylines intermingling, and all in the confines of one apartment block sounds much like Delicatessen (1991), but with less heartwarming scenes and more stalking dead girls.
R – The Eye (2002), Double Vision (2002), Shutter (2004), Detective Dee (2010), Gojoe (2000)
L – A-Z of supernatural films Vol 1, Tower Blocks and Tennant Buildings,
A – Why isn’t there a larger range of supernatural films?