Well first of all, I’d just like to say that I am sorely disappointed that this film had such a limited season that by the time most of you in Sydney who read this, you won’t be able to catch it. Because it really isn’t that bad a horror film.
In all honesty the movie isn’t the most diverse in its thrills but when you walk into a horror film you are hoping for a good scare and this movie delivers at a very machine gun rate. It’s a very rare ten minutes in the film where you don’t feel a malevolent presence and you just wonder at what point it is going to break. Soi Cheang, the director, just never lets up in the atmosphere. If it was more of a roller coaster ride, the repetitiveness of the techniques may very well become predictable but he sets it close enough to the edge throughout the movie for you to be distracted by other concerns.
Which is probably the thing that saves this movie. As with many a horror film, if you think about it way too much (as you have to when you reviewing it) there are holes in the plot and silliness that really can’t help but smile and wonder what you were so frightened about in the first place – not that evil spirits need a justification for what they’re doing, but it certainly helps your own piece of mind. Of course this is in the safety of your own home and not with the voices calling around you in the dark.
In general Soi Cheang has done a great job in setting the atmosphere with some scenes which are just plain creepy (watch out for the Birthday flashback) and I have to say the ending raised the coolness of this film by a number of notches. As the name suggests, blood is a central theme of the film so it is spread around rather liberally though not to the excess that the characters are drowning in it. By the same token, I am somewhat disappointed in some of the effects they did use in the film. At one stage, I could easily see the fishing wire used to move a prop and when you do see the ghost in her full fury for more than a second, you can’t help but notice she is just wearing a less than convincing skull cap.
The standout performance in the film is no doubt Niki Chow. She plays the somewhat mentally disturbed Joy at her wits end convincingly and is so central to so many of the best scenes in the film that it is hard to imagine anyone else in the role. In contrast, the male lead, Bernard Chow is very bland – this is no criticism on his part as he had a particularly bland character in the first place so by that point of view he was quite convincing 😉
I really jumped in this film and for that reason alone I can’t help but recommend it. If nothing else it got my blood pumping as the film never really let up in its atmosphere building. Admittedly the extent of the film’s bag of tricks was the building up of tension to be shocked suddenly but the fact that it never lets up keeps you interested. I do have to raise some questions about the overall moral of the film though…