Geung Si (Rigor Mortis) Review

Posted: April 8, 2014 in Foreign, Horror, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

rigormotis_01Director Juno Mak, in his maiden effort behind the camera, has made an almost spoiler-proof movie. At any point in Geung Si (Rigor Mortis), up to and including the ending, you have no idea what the hell is going on. You might think you know who’s dead or dying or destined to die, but chances are excellent that the next scene or the one after that or certainly the final scene will have you going back over that assumption.

“The twins now possess the vampire,” is a line delivered by a character indicating a key turning point in the movie. Good luck explaining that to someone unfamiliar with jiangshi or the hopping vampire myth. And any recap of the action will include relaying the fact that if a malignant spirit takes over a living soul, the correct approach is to kick its ever-loving evil ass, kung fu style.

Rigor Mortis is absolute nonsense, but it is gorgeous, grotesque nonsense that is visually thrilling, never less than enthralling, over-the-top, must-see Hong Kong horror.

The story centers around a down-on-his-luck actor Yau (Anthony Chan) who is reduced to moving into a decaying public housing project that may or may not be a portal to hell, a halfway house in hell, or just a place that looks like hell. He is given unit number 2442, which turns out to be the worst possible place to spend the night since room 237 in the Overlook Hotel. Rather than contending with a simple rotting corpse hanging out in the bathtub, our hero has to deal with the restless souls of two teenage girls who died in the living room after killing the man who savagely abused them.

You have a feeling from the get-go that Yau is not getting his security deposit back when this one is over.

The surviving members of the original family from 2442 – a mother and son who happens to be a platinum blonde Chinese kid – haunt the hallways of the housing projects as living ghosts, while the newly dead dude downstairs is being brought back to life or at least to undeath by the resident black magic practitioner.

The ensemble cast maintains a dignity and solemnity throughout the film that lends the proceedings a gravitas that would otherwise seem impossible given the surface ridiculousness of the story. The casting is spot on, and the performances are appropriately restrained. The sets are strikingly decrepit. Grey dominates the color palette of the film, but it is a rich, full grey of volcanic ash and storm clouds over raging seas that contrasts so brilliantly with the streams of thick red blood.

Director Mak along with his collaborators, screenwriters Lai-yin Leung and Philip Yung, cinematographer Man-Ching Ng, and visual effects supervisor Enoch Chan, all merit kudos for their work here and bear continued close scrutiny for what their imaginations will let loose on cinema screens in the future.

Three and a half stars.

  1. Mirella McCracken says:

    I love when you say “spoiler-proof movie.”
    Nice review Mr. Karma.

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