Saturday, July 5, 2014
Rigor Mortis (2013) - Horror Supernatural
Rigor Mortis (2013) - aka "Geung si" - Hong Kong (original title) A perusing of the on demand in FIOS lead to the viewing of this fine and entertaining entry into the world of supernatural horror. Low expectations going into the viewing but the quality film making and cool if expected special effects made this film a pleasant experience. We see a smoking man in the blood stained rubble and the soot covered lead and wonder how the hell we got to this point. This opening with the after affects of the third act we are lead from there back to the beginining. The color is bleached out of this film to enhance how the life has been bleached out of the people who live in the high rise tenement. This is public housing where residents are there because there because they are low on the economic ladder. They struggle to live and eat and find meaning in a hard life. Our lead character Chin, Siu-Ho (Siu-Ho, Chin) has come to this place to live. Once a successful movie actor his life has taken a turn down and he has come to this bleak place to die. More succinctly to hang himself. What follows is an adventure into the gap between life and death. An exercise in the struggle for a soul that has given up but still has a spark of goodness glimmering inside. In an early scene we seen our lead ready to die, he sees his former family, attractive wife, young son and we sense from the scenes of horror that they are no longer with him. He is grieving the loss and wants his life to end without them.
As much as the film is about Chin it is also about his new neighbors and about death and the need to let go of the past to move on from loss. As Chin, Siu-Ho hangs from the fan in his grimy apartment we see his life leaving him, but there is also a supernatural presence that is not him. It takes control of the dying man and only the intervention of neighbor Yau (Anthony Chan) not only casts out the spirit but saves the life of the actor. We are quickly introduced to the other residents, The unstable woman Yeung Feng (Kara Hui) who wanders the halls of the complex and has a history in Chin's apartment numbered 2442. She is crazy leading her albino child around and scavenging for food. Her story is a sad back story that explains the angry spirits in Chin's apartment. Yau the former vampire hunter and provider of rice for many of the residents of the building. He practices a magic of good and protects those he lives around. Countering him is the black magician Master Gau who always wanted to have more than just the good magic. Auntie Mui (Hee Ching Paw) kind old woman who reaches out to Chin after his suicide attempt. She and her husband the gruff Uncle Tung (Richard Ng) live a quiet life that will be changed forever through circumstances of the most unfortunate manner. There is also security guard the kind Uncle Yin (Hoi-Pang Lo). All the characters are well drawn and there is a personality to the group that lets us look into the life of this struggling community that tries to take care of itself.
Gau with the promise to bring back the dead Tung to Auntie Mui starts a process theat he says will do what he says. Unfortunately his darker secret is that he secretly wants to make Tung into a Vampire. His penalty for doing such dark magic is apparent in the suffering he must endure, While this storyline goes on in the background we also learn the back story of apartment 2442. It is a sad tale of rape and murder that leaves the angry ghosts of two sisters seeking a way to enter the living and do harm. The scenes are graphic and just a bit gory. Spirits and magic are a part of this world and Chin learns the sad story. The first and second acts do a nice job of developing this world and there are several creepy scenes set to appropriate scary music to get the viewer involved and just a bit on edge. An American audience may struggle a bit with the early pacing but it is worth it to get to the third act.
When the third act starts an shit hits the fan we get to follow Yau as he and Gau go head to head. Like in the film Black Magic recently reviewed in this blog one is drawn to the darks side and the other has to counter him. It is actually a strength of this film that the sides are not black and white. The spirit world is present and there are both happy and sad spirits in it. Both Gau and Yau fight the evil ones at times together, but they do not agree and the methods to do that which leads ultimately to confrontation. They are both capable in their own way but black magic is about obtaining power and counter to white magic. We get to see Chin join on the side of good as the Vampire who was Tung is possessed by the spirits of the dead girls. There is some very cool and frightening scenes of fighting this spirit. This is more the hopping Chinese vampire, a living dead creature who will feed on the living but without the glamour of western vampires. The film is so very much worth watching to get to this third act. It is action packed and powerful with cool effects and surprising outcome. When all the story is told it, even with the twist ending that was not necessarily needed, it is a tale worth recommending. The Writers Lai-yin Leung and Philip Yung should be commended for the story and Director Juno Mak and Cinematographer Man-ching Ng have created a very cool look and feel for the film. So recommendations all around for this one.