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異塚 (2007)
The Closet

Reviewed by: AkiraRus
Date: 12/30/2007
Summary: Terrible

Truly terrible movie with abysmal script, which started as a horror, but ended with nothing supernatural in the sight. Not even so-bad-its-good variety, just a big mess.

Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: palplathune
Date: 05/28/2007

It has been almost 10 years since the cult Japanese horror flick The Ring shook the box office in all Asia and still the trend continue to endure in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, the subsequent movies which followed in the Pearl of Asia in trying to promote real horror chills have almost all fallen short. For one interesting work as Horror Hotline Big Head Monster, audiences had to deal with many inferior features as The Eye franchise or The Park, just to name a few. Sad to say, this Closet is not going to improve the status of Hong Kong horror movie.

The main culprit is easy to find: The script! Most of the good horror films have relied on solid scripts which were able to root the feelings of fear in very real human emotions. In the 1980’s Stanley Kubrick, The Shinning, fear comes from the dislocation of the small family cell and the rising claustrophobia/anxiety of Jack. Other classics such as The Innocents (61), Candyman (92) and, of course, The Ring apply the same, very efficient, techniques. Local filmmakers understood the need of such palpable emotions to give birth to fear during the little horror trend of the end of the 70ies/beginning of the 80ies (the 2 Possessed, Rape and Die…).
At first glance, The Closet’s scriptwriter seems to use the same formula. In less than 5 minutes, we are introduced to the trauma Francis Ng’s character is experiencing toward his authoritarian father. Logically, this clue should be an important plot point which would lead the film’s main story. But logic is absent from this script… And instead of developing the elements he has introduced at first, the scriptwriter constantly throws new side stories (the strange personality of the host of our main characters, the crazy neighbour’s wife, the mysterious voices emanating from the house…). With so many different plots, how can the scriptwriter make a satisfying conclusion able to explain and link everything as a whole? The answer is simple: He doesn’t. And judging from the last minutes of the film, he didn’t even try to! What’s the interest to tell a story without any decent conclusion? A question the producers should have asked before green lighting such an inept script…

Seemingly unaware of the weakness of his script, director Cho Kin Nam (far from being the best filmmaker in Hong Kong history) chooses to film it as seriously as possible. Playing with the specially designed environment of the place of the action (a house full of strange sculptures), overusing the sound effects for any moves of a character and declining all the camera tricks possible to create a heavy mood and make the audience jump in their seats. To be honest, Cho is quite successful in the beginning, when things around our “heroic” couple are still unfamiliar. But once we realise the story is getting nowhere, all the efforts of Cho are useless. Their endless repetition becomes even tiring and boring towards the end of the feature.
Given the weak material they have to deal with, there isn’t much the actors can do. Still, Francis Ng is as professional as usual. His partner, Yang Zhi Fei, is a very cute newcomer but lacks a bit of experience and suffers from a very obvious dubbing, harming her performance. Eddie Cheung is very convincing as the weird neighbour but, as much of the cast, is betrayed by the lack of sufficient development in his character. Same can be said of Michelle Yip. All in all, the cast is doing a good job. Too bad they didn’t get a good script to work on.

Because of this lack of sufficient work in pre production, The Closet ends as a complete failure, like a big compilation of horror clichés accumulated without any sense. It lets the viewer with the very frustrating feeling of having lost 1h30 for nothing… Time is precious, no reason to waste it with such an empty feature.