Shiver (2003)
Reviewed by: wyeeso on 2012-03-31
Summary: The real shiver behind "Shiver"
[Plot: 2/5]
I'm not too sure when did the phenomenon actually start, but I realize a lot of HK films (especially those from the past decade) are becoming "Hollywoodized". Oh, allow me to be a little more clear on the term "Hollywoodized". The exact words to describe most HK films from the past decade or so are glitzy and superficial. To be even more clear, what I'm trying to say is that films like "Shiver" only care to deliver their audience the shivers while the plot is full of potholes!
You see, the storyline for "Shiver" is not that bad, and that is, if you judge it from the surface. But once you dig deeper into the story and pay attention to the details, which you should when you're looking for clues in this mystery thriller, you'll be tempted to pick up the flaws along the way.
From the surface, it sounds appealing as soon as the audiences learn that while Sammi Mok (played by Athena Chu) is recovering from a head injury that she has received during a shootout from the opening scene, she begins to have experiences with an apparition and receives visions of serial homicide. Meanwhile, her indifferent husband, Chan Kwok-Ming (played by Francis Ng), is investigating the very same serial homicide that she has been visualizing.
Right after we learn what the protagonists have to deal with, the story starts to build up the suspense and give away clues that may have caused the events. However, none of them really have to do with anything in the story. For example, we are led to assume that Sammi is having paranormal experiences because of her decreasing eyesight, and that she has been told by Dr. Ko Chun (played by Nick Cheung) to wear reading glasses. Yet, we never see her wearing reading glasses throughout the whole movie. In fact, her eyesight seems perfectly normal! Then, for the serial homicide, we see the victims are being dismantled after their death, and we are, again, led to assume that the common point between the victims is their sin. Again, that's not the story. They are merely killed and dismantled because they are "the cures" who could have saved Sammi from bleeding to death at the end! Finally, we are also led to believe that Sammi will bleed to death since all her "cures" are dead, but despite of his revenge for his deceased fiancee Kitty Chow (played by Tiffany), Ko Chun suddenly gives out hint that he's the "last cure" and saves Sammi. And yet, it makes us wonder why he even bother hypnotizing Sammi to make her go nuts, killing off her "cures" and putting her in jeopardy in the first place when he decides to give out the hint to save her.
A lot of things are also left untold in the story. For instance, just when we are ready to find out why Kwok-Ming is being so cold to his wife and what really happened during those 3 years of marriage, the film just ends with the couple being merry again. Same goes to the love between Ko Chun and Kitty, their story is a bit too empty, which makes it harder for the audiences to agree with Ko Chun's motive for the serial murder.
The flaws from this story are endless. The characters are not assigned with logical reasons to justify their actions and behaviors. Perhaps, the only logical reason that can justify the killer's action and behavior is the mystery thriller just needs an aberrant killer to thrill the audiences. And the fact gives me a shiver.

[Actors: 4/5]
Two thumbs up for Athena Chu's outstanding performance, even though her character seems to be a little too average. And it isn't the sturdy wife she played in the beginning that makes her performance outstanding, it's the helpless, frightening, and lonely wife she played that confirms her to be a great actress. At one scene, her character becomes extremely frightened when she sees the photo of Kitty, and as she trembles, her body totally freezes with the frightening look on her face. At that time, her eyes, her body language, and her emotions just speak it all out for her character's mental state. Also, Athena has made an attempt to get rid of her sex-appealing profile and appeared before the audiences without make-up, which further convinces the audience of her frightened character.
Francis Ng has also made a great performance as a husband who acts so indifferently towards his wife and always expresses his tiredness and frustration when she needs him. He could also express his anger well towards his subordinates and the killer. However, no doubt his performance, along with Nick's and Tiffany's, could be easily overlooked when comparing to Athena's.
I want to make a final note on Benz Hui and Patrick Tang, with the former played Kwok-Ming's superior and latter played his subordinate. Both of them are given the roles to be comic relief by producing humors in their acts and dialogues, but only the former was successful with his experienced acting skill while the latter acted unnaturally for being inexperienced.

[The Production Crew:]
I appreciate how Billy Chung was doing a good job in delivering shivers in this film, but Paul Chung really needed to work on the script a lot more than just having a killer in a mystery thriller. Other than that, great job on the ghost scenes and the props for the dismantled corpses (or are they real person with special make-up?).

[Memorable scene(s):]
Most ghost scenes promise to give the audiences shivers, and they did to some extent. One that sure freaks me out is Sammi's drawing of the ghost on the wall.
The scene where Sammi becomes extremely frightened and freezes is also priceless.

[Worth Watching A Second Time?]
You can watch it over and over again if you wanna find more flaws in this film, or if you feel like getting a shiver. Otherwise, don't waste your time and move on to something else.
Reviewer Score: 6