Director: Fruit Chan, Fung Chih Chiang, Hoi Ip Sang, Wesley
Cast: Jerry Lamb, Cecilia So, Cherry Chung, Yeung Wai Lun, Monnie Li, Richie Ren, Sofiee Ng, Peter Chan, Paul Che, Baby Bo, Cherry Ngan, Ng Wing Sze, Kelvin Kwan, Van Chan
Runtime: 1 hr 51 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Mature Content & Violence)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Opening Day: 15 September 2022
Synopsis: Fear lives inside everyone’s hearts. Do you think you’re immune? You just haven’t found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time... Produced by John Chong and Mathew Tang, Tales from the Occult features three eerie stories about spooky happenings in tight spaces: Dead Mall by Fruit Chan, The Tenement by Fung Chih Chiang and The Chink by Hoi Ip Sang, Wesley. They will take you into a terrifying world in which human nature is driven to extremes by twisted environments. Do you have the guts to go inside?
Remember a time when we were spoilt (and scared silly) by movies like The Eye (2002), Three…Extremes (2004) and more recently, Rigor Mortis (2013)? Seeing ghosts after a cornea transplant operation, stuffing aborted fetuses in dumplings to achieve eternal youth, and spirits possessing a human’s body after a failed suicide attempt – these are the concepts behind these truly chilling horror flicks.
In this reported first instalment of Hong Kong production company and film distributor Media Asia’s new omnibus series, we are treated to three stories which remind us of the chills derived from the good ol’ Hong Kong horror genre.
The first segment directed by newcomer Weley Hoi tells the story of a pop singer (Cherry Ngan) who experiences scary events in her new apartment. We learn that she came face to face with a rotting corpse when she was a teenager. Are the creepy things she’s experiencing a result of the unsettling episode she went through as a young girl? Elsewhere, her uncle (the ever reliable Lawrence Cheng) is the psychiatrist trying to calm the terrified celebrity down.
Titled “The Chink”, this tale sets the tone for the 111 minute feature film. There is an unsettling atmosphere throughout, and there seems to be a repressed plot development waiting somewhere. You anticipate an outrageous twist, so when the segment ends on a straightforward note, you can’t help but wish there was something else cleverer instead. But on another level, the ending reflects a dread that traumatised individuals have to live with for the rest of their lives.
Fruit Chan, whom many of us are familiar with, is on form with the second segment “Dead Mall”. People are facing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, where the economy is in the dumps. We are introduced to an online influencer (Jerry Lamb) who hosts the popular “The Gate To Wealth” series. He is in a mall that seems to be thriving with business – until the camera pulls back and we realise the crowd is made up of paid actors. Retail spaces are empty, and business is non existent. Things get interesting when another online influencer and a mysterious figure show up in the mall.
This story boasts the strongest concepts, and we are not surprised because it is helmed by the critically acclaimed Chan. There is plenty to think about as the handheld camera shots assault the senses. Everything seems to be in a mess, yet poignant themes such as consumerism, greed, pandemic panic and real estate scams are constantly being explored.
The last segment directed by Fung Chih Chiang has the most structured story. Five strangers come together after a water ghost appears in the dilapidated building they stay in. Richie Ren and Sofiee Ng headline this tale that scores in entertainment value, with Ren delivering an unexpectedly hilarious performance as a gangster who had seen better days.
"The Tenement" is the easiest tale to follow. You’ll be kept intrigued as the characters share their back stories, face their fears to confront the water ghost, and scramble to get rid of a corpse. The plot thickens and you’ll be pulled into a murder mystery before the episode ends on a disturbing note. We can't wait for the second instalment of the series to hit the big screens.
(The spooky tales in this Hong Kong horror omnibus are competently told and provide old school scares)
Review by John Li