Thursday, October 20, 2011

Visible Secret- 幽靈人間 (2001)

Below, check out this review I wrote once upon a time and posted over at my old stomping grounds,  CityOnFire.Com.  And when you're done snickering at my amateur writing, click on over to Podcast Without Honor and Humanity and check out the mellifluous voice of the podcast-o-sphere's one man gang, Jake 'The Snake', as he yakety yaks (and no one talks back) about Ann Hui's 2001 moody horror piece, and topic of this post, VISIBLE SECRET.  Oh, and take a gander at my mini poster as well!
The possible proof of Visible Secret's existence is the box office success of The Sixth Sense. The later film lends more than just a ghost story to it's HK counterpart. While there isn't a blond haired, blue-eyed kid freaking people out, there's Shu Qi. She takes over as the creepy mortal with a link to the afterlife. Popular female art-house director Ann Hui returns to haunted territory; she also directed The Secret (1979) and The Spooky Bunch (1980), and gorgeously saturates the proceedings with the genres spooky green and blue hues. As the story is told, Eason Chan plays Peter, an out of work hair stylist who meets the enigmatic June, Shu Qi, in a nightclub. Their encounter is more than kismet. June is a free 'spirit' haunted by a memory from the past. With her she brings the tormented baggage of a 15 year old malignant spirit, bent on revenge, into Peter's life. This culminates in the death of Peter's father. June's mysterious character is as unsettling as the atmosphere that permeates the film. All sorts of ghastly goings on turn the ghost story into the arcane, and Hui's arty background prevents the film from becoming too exploitative. Exploitation, though, might have been in order. The film doesn't illicit much edge of your seat chills for the genre it employs. The film becomes a head scratcher and nothing is offered in the way of explanation until the final frames,a surprise ending nod to The Sixth Sense, which in itself is ponderous. Lending support to the two leads are Wayne Lai, Sam Lee, Cheung Tat-ming, and an unforgettable, albeit brief, appearance by Anthony Wong. The eerie milieu of Visible Secret is one of the most beautiful sights I've seen in a HK film in recent memory.  From it's beautiful deep hue of color, to it's creepy deserted nighttime landscapes, to it's characters and story steeped in spiritual Chinese lore. As complicated as the film turns out, the satisfaction of watching a film worthy of it's superstitious convictions is as rich as it's haunting cinematography.

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