When one comes across a film like Shiver I’m never sure whether we’re catching the tail end of a fad for ghost stories or serial killings or whether we have movie studios throwing all the components of what was ‘in’ in the hope that they can create something new and exciting.
Of course, it is rare that this happens but then there is the analogy about the amount of manure and needed to grow a flower. That’s not to say Shiver is a necessarily bad film – if anything it is actually quite middle of the road – but I suppose I’m just venting about fads and the usual detritus that follows.
In essence though, Shiver is a film about the relationship between a dedicated, yet emotionally distant policeman and the second chance he gets with his wife after getting her injured in the line of duty. The haunting and serial killing subplot is eye candy to get in the crowds looking for a scare or some blood.
As such, the strength of the film depends on the strength of the leads, so while I do think Athena Chu does a good job as the abandoned yet haunted Yee, Francis Ng as the bipolar Ming tends to take some credibility away from the film. He just seems to swing from the stoic to the melodramatic a mite too often to make it convincing. I don’t see this as much a failing in Francis Ng’s acting ability rather than a very ordinarily written character especially since it is so hard to empathise with Ming in any way during the film. When he’s detached, it’s just hard to believe he has any internal conflict going on until he hits the melodrama. But by then it seems overdone.
The haunting aspect of the film is quite well done with some nice sharp visuals with the flashes of bloody images that we usually associate with violent precognitions. The killings themselves, however seem somewhat comical despite the macabre nature of the material. I have to admit though I was more perturbed by the postmodern manner we had the comic relief trying to profile the killer than the killings themself.
Overall Shiver is average fare that is not an absolute waste of time. It’s one of those that if you have nothing better to do and you need a bit of blood and violence to round out your day, then sure why not. No real surprises why it has come in under the radar.