• Geung Si / Rigor Mortis (2013) - Asian mythology meets stunning visual effects in an atmospheric, detailed and slow-paced horror movie - 9/10 (15/12/14)

    Geung Si / Rigor Mortis (2013)


    "Rigor Mortis" is a slow-paced but intriguing atmospheric horror movie that honours both classic supernatural Hongkong cinema from the eighties and nineties and Japanese horror cinema of the nineties and the early years of the new millennium. The movie uses mythological elements from both cultures. To dig all these elements, it's suggested to get informed about the mythological background and watch this movie multiple times. You will realize that each character in the movie represents a different kind of ghost from Chinese mythology for example. You might also realize that the strange tall people with the umbrellas that seem to have a random cameo appearance in this movie are actually soul collectors using their umbrellas as traps. You could also see that the cook and the priest are both Taoist priests but while one uses his powers to help people and fight demons, the other uses the same powers for his own selfish acts and helps to awake and strengthen the demons. As you can see, this movie is filled with many lovely little details. If you are looking for explicit gore or an extremely creepy experience, you are at the wrong address.

    Something that largely contributes to the atmosphere is the use of lights and shades, camera angles varying from wide angels to claustrophobic short cuts and many special effects that especially use colours very well. The CGI effects never look out of place and aren't overused as in many other contemporary Chinese films, especially action movies. In his directional debut, Juno Mak manages to keep the basis of solid traditional horror movies based on an atmospheric use of lights and sounds, on creepy settings in a dirty public housing tower with old- fashioned apartments and on a menacing score and more contemporary elements such as the use of vivid flashy colours contrasting with the dark settings, computer-animated demons that sometimes look exotically supernatural and at other times disturbingly realistic and slow-motion camera sequences that add a nightmarish touch to the movie.

    Apart of its detailed background and its consistent gloomy atmosphere, the movie can actually convince with some interesting characters. Each important character in this movie has a tragic tale to tell and some sort of development. Some of the background stories are actually quite touching and mostly deal with loss in one way or the other. The acting is calm, grounded and actually realistic and a welcome change if compared to the usual hysterically screaming teenagers. There is not really one outstanding acting performance but each actor and actress does an above average effort in this film.

    It's hard to talk about the plot itself as several individual fates and different stories end up leading to something bigger and a fatal last fight between some courageous apartment tenants and some evil creatures. The movie also contains some sort of twist or alternate story if you want to which is revealed in the last three minutes. This twist is nothing really surprising after all and maybe the only real weak point in here but you have to understand that what matters in this movie is not really the outcome of it but the way things unfold. The way between start and finish is much more intriguing than the short overture and the grand finale themselves.

    Now, if you care for atmospheric, mythological and slow-paced Asian horror cinema where you have to use your brain a little bit, this is definitely one of the most original movies in many years. If you are expecting the usual graphic shocker or scary supernatural film that solely wants to entertain, then you might actually dislike this film. Make sure to be familiar with Asian horror cinema before checking this movie out and you might enjoy your overall experience even more.




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