Juno Mak’s ‘Rigor Mortis’ a disorienting Hong Kong horror flick
Co-produced by “The Grudge” director Takashi Shimizu, the unmistakable graphite palette and atmospheric dread of Japanese horror films loom over the Hong Kong import “Rigor Mortis.” But typical of Hong Kong cinema, the film goes for broke with its pastiche of influences, including Tsui Hark, David Lynch, David Fincher and M. Night Shyamalan.
A washed-up actor (Chin Siu-ho) moves into one of those oppressively mammoth Hong Kong apartment complexes that could pass for a prison. Given that it’s unusually quiet, gloomy and dilapidated, the fact that it’s also haunted should come as a shock to no one. The complex even boasts its own resident exorcist (Anthony Chan), who runs a bistro in the high rise.
Perhaps as a nod to Shimizu, vengeful contortionist female spirits and creepy kids often lurk in the background, as if playing hide and seek. But inexplicably, the ghosts bust out Hong Kong chopsocky when confronted.
The film supplies a succession of hyper-stylized and potent set pieces without ever establishing any sort of internal logic. Even those who know the drill of H.K. horror will be disoriented by the various filmmaking vocabularies, since each subplot seems to follow its own set of thematic and stylistic rules. Director Juno Mak might have pulled off this potpourri if it weren’t for a cop-out ending.
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes.
Playing: At AMC Atlantic Times Square 14, Monterey Park. Also on VOD.
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