Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Film Review: Rigor Mortis (2013)

Rigor Mortis (Review)
China/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Deltamac HK)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"Rigor Mortis is elegantly terrifying..."

Chin Siu-ho (Chin Siu-ho), a washed up actor at the end of his career, moves into apartment 2440 in a public housing apartment complex where his attempted suicide is disrupted by the supernatural...

Rigor Mortis continues as Chin Siu-ho gets familiar with the building and the other tenants. Although he doesn't believe in the supernatural, the other tenants do and some have a history with such a subject. For example, the former tenant of 2440 has been haunted by the room since her husband, who was a tutor, attacked his twin students... which lead to bloody consequences. At the same time, a seemingly honest and likable tenant seems to be messing with black magic to revive the dead. Although he's not technically a vampire hunter, Siu-ho harnesses his movie skills and teams up with a fellow vampire hunter to cleanse the haunted building. The ending of the film is ambiguous yet haunting -- it may not automatically click with the audience, but I really enjoyed the sense of ambiguity.

Rigor Mortis is a very effective horror film. Based on Chinese folklore and blended with elements of Japanese horror, Rigor Mortis is an intriguing and insightful horror film. There are a few effective jump-scares and plenty of tension, but this film excels more at using its stunning visuals to horrify. Rigor Mortis is elegantly terrifying, where every scene is absolutely beautiful yet haunting; the vampire and ghosts/spirits are creepy and ominous, and their movements are mesmerizing. I really haven't seen a horror film reach this level of beauty. It's a slow-burn film, but it is also moderately paced -- I felt like it ended quickly as I was hooked from beginning to end. The plot focuses on character, including the building, and reaches some unexpected emotional depths. Oddly enough, Rigor Mortis feels like a very effective throwback to 80s and 90s horror much like The White Storm, which I also loved, was for 80s and 90s action.

Chin Siu-ho is apparently playing himself in this film, and he does a fantastic job with a powerful and believable performance -- never hitting too high or too low. The rest of the cast is on par. The cinematography and camerawork is beautiful; the film is absolutely stunning with elegant visuals of terror; the use of vivid, colorful lighting was also wonderful. The set designs are also beautifully crafted with great attention to detail. Rigor Mortis is pure eye candy, so sweet you may get diabetes of the eyes. There is quite a bit slow-motion, but it works well for the film and the visuals. The score is fantastic and well-fitted for the genre, its music I wouldn't mind listening to without the film. Director Juno Mak is a true visionary -- he carefully and elegantly crafts a mesmerizing horror film, going back to the old days without completely sacrificing contemporary characteristics.

Overall, Rigor Mortis is a masterpiece from debut director Juno Mak. It's a beautiful horror film that will be unbelievably attractive to fans of the culture and the folklore, and even to those who are simply interested -- this film will satisfy this interest tenfold. Don't miss this film, it's a gem.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some gore, and a brief rape scene. (the scene lasts a minute and consists of thrusting; not graphic, but you can definitely see what's going on.)

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