MYSTERY WRITERS (鬼大厦) (2024)

Genre: Horror
Director: Hsieh Chih Wen
Cast: Chen Yu, Huang Ching-Yi, Masha Pan Jun-Lun, Dai Ping-ya, Francesca Kao, Alina Cheng, Helena Hsu, Kuang Tian, Peng Chia-Chia
Runtime: 1 hr 23 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language and Violence)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website:

Opening Day: 25 April 2024

Synopsis: Inspired by Taiwan's famous haunted apartment. Based on a true story. May 28, 1984, a major fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Jin Xin Building, suspected to have been caused by faulty wiring, the residents on the 4th floor were trapped in the fire as the fire exits were blocked, which claimed a total of 19 lives. Pei who possesses psychic abilities, moves into the building, teaming up with Shao, a horror novelist seeking inspiration within the building, they investigate numerous unexplained terrifying events and aim to uncover the truth behind the tragic fire... 

Movie Review:

You must have heard of urban legends where buildings are haunted by spirits. It might be an abandoned block where someone died from an accident during construction. It might be a creepy apartment where the previous owner committed suicide. Or it might be a modern looking complex that is built on a cemetery. The possibilities are endless, and people will always be intrigued and spooked by such tales. If you are fan of this genre, here’s a scary flick supposedly inspired by Taiwan’s infamous haunted apartment.

The movie wastes no time in setting up an eerie atmosphere and we are introduced to a guy named Shao (Masha Pan) who takes on a job as a security guard in a dilapidated looking apartment. We find out that he is penning a collection of ghost stories and wants to experience first hand the reported incidents in the building. It turns out that a fire broke out in the 1980s and took the lives of innocent occupants. Naturally you’d think that these vengeful beings are still lingering around, waiting to terrify whoever comes in their way.

The female protagonist of the movie is Pei (Chen Yu), who happens to be the daughter of the woman who supposedly started the fire by accident. And to move the story along, she has psychic abilities which makes her the perfect person Shao wants to hang out with.

The movie then shows us the supernatural incidents one by one. While there are naturally chilling elements, each of them has a sad back story which attempt to tug at your heartstrings. There is a woman (Francesca Kao) who goes around collecting unwanted cans, bottles and other trash while mourning the death of her son. One scene sees her teaching the spirit of her son how to crush cans, a moment that will make mothers teary eyed. There is also badly burnt man (Chuck You) who has lost his mind after his family perished in the fire. Keeping Pei busy are also other residents whose peace are continually being disturbed by the spirits.

The bulk of the movie is dedicated to the truth behind the horrible accident, where we see two women (Taiwan’s Golden Bell Awards winner Huang Ching-Yi and popular YouTube star Dai Ping-ya) who were working as prostitutes on the fourth floor (yes, it has to be that number because the Mandarin pronunciation is often associated with death) of the building. Their friendship ends on a tragic note when Dai’s character is brutally abused. The sequence is painful to watch as it doesn’t hold back on any subtleties. The violence may make some viewers uncomfortable.

With a runtime of 83 minutes, it is unfortunate that not all stories are fully fleshed out. We wanted to find out more about how the burnt victim has been coping with his life after the accident, or how the writer is affected by all these unfolding of events. The ending feels rushed and while the makeup work done on various characters is commendable, some CGI scenes do seem out of place. That said, this collection of ghostly stories that take place in an allegedly haunted building will may still shivers down your spine the next time you walk past a rundown apartment.

Movie Rating:

(A collection of spooky tales that have sad undertones, especially the tragic story between friends played by Huang Ching-Yi and Dai Ping-ya)

Review by John Li

You might also like:


Movie Stills