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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Film Review - Rigor Mortis

By Adam Ruhl

Rigor Mortis opens in limited release this Friday June 6th. It’s a Hong Kong horror film but I would be hard pressed to squeeze it into any one category of the genre. Much like Cabin in the Woods, we are getting just about every horror trope and monster shoved into one movie. I actually saw this film from the first time almost a year ago at the 2013 Fantastic Fest, but I was attending so many films that a few got over looked and Rigor Mortis was one of them. Now that I have had another chance to see it I would like to correct the oversight.

Siu-Ho Chin plays himself as an actor whose career and family life has collapsed and he is forced to move into a tenement building in the poor village he grew up in. His first act upon arriving is to try to hang himself. In a sign of things to come, he is simultaneously possessed by an evil spirit and his neighbor has to cut the rope/ exorcise the spirit (the spirit reminds me of some of the effects of the Grudge movies and then I noticed the director of the Grudge was the producer of this film).

The tenement is old and filthy, like a building from Seven, and is filled with elderly people. At least the mortal tenants are elderly; the immortal tenants include ghosts, demons, crazy people, and eventually, vampires which form our primary antagonist. An elderly man falls down the stairs and dies. His wife, not wanting to be without him, commences bringing him back as the undead (side note: one of the interesting things I learned from Rigor Mortis is that Glutinous Rice works the same as Garlic).

Overall it’s a good film, it feels a little scattered with wildly disparate elements and stories going off in their own directions. They don’t quite all tie back together but that’s okay because a lot of the fun is wondering through this dark, dank apartment complex. The characters are rich and their stories interesting. Much like Cabin, the film doesn't take itself too seriously (the vampire hops) and I feel like I would understand more of the dark humor in it with more cultural context. Some of the film is just outrightly dark and those are the parts that in my opinion worked best. 

Opening Friday, JUNE 6-
Released by WELL GO USA

STARRING: Anthony Chan, Siu-Ho Chin, Kara Hui, Richard Ng, Hoi-Pang Lo, Hee Chang Paw
DIRECTED BY: Juno Mak   
PRODUCED BY: Takashi Shimizu and Juno Mak

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