Watching the trailer for this Chinese horror film, the stand out element was the incredible imagery-a Nosferatu-like man-beast swimming in slo-mo towards the camera, the ghostly twins gliding with smoke-like tentacles surrounding them, the fight sequences. This looked like a film that had to be seen.
Rigor Mortis plays out with a sombre, slow pace so when the set pieces come along they manage to lift it but make no mistake, this is arthouse horror.
Having done a bit of research after viewing, what became evident was the amount of references to the Chinese vampire films of the 1980’s, especially Mr Vampire with which Rigor Mortis shares two lead actors.
This is a film about regret and choices, although never explicitly explaining, it is definitely heavily inferred.
Ho-Sui Chin plays a version of himself (same name) as a man who is at the end of his tether and moves into a tenement to finish off his days. There, he meets Yau (Anthony Chan), a former Vampire hunter who now owns the restaurant in the building.
Hee Ching Paw is Auntie Mui married to Uncle Tung (Richard Ng), an old couple who also live there. When Uncle Tung has an accident she seeks the help of Uncle Yin (Hoi-Pang Loi) who we discover is involved with the dark arts.
It’s clear from the off that this building has its fair share of otherworldly entities and so our story begins.
The cinematography is beautiful; all grey and blue hues and the music is suitably eerie.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t that scary, unsettling a touch maybe, but lacking in the fear department.
Again, we are in the territory of how, and if, we empathise with the characters and although they are well fleshed out, there is still something missing.
Directed by record/film producer and Hong Kong singer Juno Mak, here he shows promise with his first film and from what I’ve read it is a film that benefits from knowledge of Chinese culture.