JANUARY 13, 2008
Now that I’ve seen more than just a couple clunkers, I am starting to appreciate Asian horror a bit more. I don’t find them as particularly terrifying as I am told they are, but the past few I have watched have been engaging and, more importantly, made fucking sense. Silk (aka Guisi) is another that uses storytelling logic, and it is appreciated. In fact, this may be one of the most accessible Asian horror films I have seen yet, especially of the ones dealing with, once again, vengeful ghosts.
This one sort of plays out like a Michael Crichton movie for a while. We have a team of scientists trying to solve some science-y problem, in this case anti-gravity, only all hell breaks loose. The horror elements are actually fairly light until the final 20 minutes or so, as most of the movie is devoted to explaining what they are trying to do and one of them following the little ghost kid around trying to solve his mystery (which, unsurprisingly, involves the usual untraditional burial). I liked this approach; since I don’t find the notion of a little Asian kid making weird sounds to be very scary, a film that uses this device every 5 minutes ends up annoying me. By sticking to the story and saving the scares for when they logically made sense, I ended up being more unsettled by the developments.
For the most part, the movie makes conventional sense, but some things were left a bit confusing. For example, the lead of the film is a cop who the scientists bring in because he can see “faster” than most people. But they all see the ghost, and the damn thing isn’t exactly running around (most of the time he’s just sitting there, in fact), so why do they need his super speedy eyes? Also, they are of the belief that understanding how this kid died will let them solve the mystery of anti-gravity? Sure, why not. I should note that, as always, since the film is subtitled and I like to actually look at the imagery, these things might have been explained in a quick line that I missed, so I dunno.
This film also contains the best use of beef noodles in a movie ever. One of the team says “I want beef noodles.” Later he repeats this desire, and leaves to get them. Then, a few minutes later, an unrelated scene is interrupted by him walking up to a clerk and ordering beef noodles, and once again a few scenes later they cut to him receiving his beef noodles (the waiter refers to them by name). At this point, we have heard the term BEEF NOODLES four times in about 10 minutes. So it comes as no surprise that the ghost climbs out of his bowl of beef noodles and chokes him to death. This results in the cook seeing the guy die (not the ghost), and then yelling “Who ever heard of dying from beef noodles!” It’s fucking delightful, and makes me want to eat beef noodles.
The DVD comes with a few deleted scenes and an alternate ending that provides a sort of Twilight Zone coda for one of the characters. Like The Descent, both endings work fine; one will leave you saying “you did that for nothing” and the other “you shouldn’t have done that!” I think the one you prefer will depend on how much you enjoy the concept of Schadenfreude. These scenes are presented in a variety of aspect ratios, waging war on my HDTV, but at least they’re worth watching. I should note that the subtitles on all the extra features are pretty clumsy, with numerous spelling (bizarre ones like “devivery”) and grammar errors, plus they are way out of sync on the making of featurette (the subs on the film itself are done well).
Strangely, this one has no remake in development, as far as I know. Maybe Hollywood, for once, exercised good judgment, knowing that the film is perfectly accessible as is (hell, the first scene is in English!) and doesn’t need one, but come on. They probably just don’t know what could substitute for beef noodles.
What say you?
(p.s. I thought this one was recommended by a reader, but I couldn’t find it on the recommendation thread. So if you recommended it, thanks!)