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Friday, March 1, 2013

Silk (2006) - Horror Ghost

Silk (2006) - "Do you believe in ghosts?" Says the believer to his American skeptic. The reply by the soon to be deceased man is, "If there really are ghosts why do they always have clothes on?" Set in Taipei the film opens with an American ghost hunter entering a big creepy apartment building. He has a special film with Menger Sponge which supposedly captures the ghost energy in it. He does not believe all the hoopla but money is money and if the government wants to pay him to shoot photos in an old building it is a job he will take. This of course is just the setup for what is a ghost story about why spirits stay around and whether this form of immortality is worth going after.
  Our American only has the one scene because for some reason ghosts do not like to have their photos taken. It establishes the idea of ghost and their ability to kill the living and that this apartment building has one. Now the film can move onto the meat of the story and our protagonists can be introduced. There is a team of scientists? or researchers might be a better definition lead by Hashimoto (Yosuke Eguchi). Now knowing a ghost haunts the apartment they set up there equipment and move into the next room to observe through glass, His team, the anti-gravity team, Su (Barbie Hsu) Ren (Bo-lin Chen) and Mei (Chun-Ning Chang)are fodder in the end but are joined by Det. Tung (Chen Chang) an agent struggling with his own demons about death.
  The film takes a lot of time to set up his back story as a man unwilling to let go of his dying mother. It fits well in the premise of the film which really asks what holds a spirit in this world. His place on the team though is not such a nice fit. He is there to find out who the ghost was in life, a role really below his elite special ops training. He also has a love interest in Wei (Kar Yan Lam),who must at some point be at risk if the arc is to go anywhere. The film is a strange mix, pretend science of the Menger Sponge which takes several forms, a cube which a spirit can be trapped, a film that can capture images of ghosts and a eye drop spray that allows people to see ghosts. The cube is the most interesting if least explored of the technologies. It absorbs the spirit energies and can defy gravity if enough is absorbed. Thinking about the ramifications of this and the uses for an anti gravity device could have been a primary story.
  Silk instead uses the idea to move the motivations of the research team forward but never really gets into the meat of what the ideas could mean in the future. It travels down a road that is in large part about Detective Tung's and his personal story with his dying mother and connects with the ghost boy's own story on a parallel track. The film asks the question what is it that binds us together, can the emotions of one hold the spirit of another in this world after they have died. There are some side things that more distract from this, Su is not so happy to have an outsider working in the group. She never really has her role fully developed so is really a nonfactor when all is said and done.
  Hashimoto has his own motivations, for him ghosts are a form of immortality. He is striving for how to harness that ability. How can one die and still stay in the world? Even better how can they keep their consciousness when they do it. He is looking to be eternal and that is his motivation for researching the ghosts. If he can find out how and what holds the spirit in place he will surely make is own life end with the desire to be a spirit for eternity. Unfortunately the film does not stay focused on the bigger questions it meanders along slowly filling in the information but then the third act becomes a taunt thriller.
   All the set up in the beginning is wasted on a race to save this person or that with Tung and most of the rest of the cast victims of the ghost. Still there is something I liked about this film. It has depth and fully explores Tung's story. The idea of silk threads as a connecting link between the spirit world and this was cool if a bit gimmicky. So in the end I would recommend this film. It may not be the best example of a J-horror ghost movie but it is decent and engaging throughout. Check this one out.

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