DVD. Cine Du Monde.
The Pang Brothers can be infuriatingly inconsistent – on
the one hand capable of quality supernatural horror like The
Eye and n the other, responsible for fairly throwaway
efforts like Omen. Re-Cycle,
made in 2006 but only now hitting UK DVD, is one of their more
interesting efforts – though parts of it left a rather bad
taste in my mouth.
Angelica Lee stars as romantic novelist Chu Xun, who is struggling
with her latest novel, a supernatural thriller. This is unsurprising,
as – at least in the English subtitles – her writing
is frankly terrible and her story, complete with longhaired female
ghosts, rather clichéd. But as her work and her private
life start to get on top of her, she begins to notice some strange
ghostly events in her home, often relating to her own story. Before
long, she exits a lift and finds herself through the rabbit hole
and into a strange world of decaying buildings, zombies and ghosts
– a world of the discarded, where people, places and even
thoughts long abandoned end up. Helped by a little girl, she makes
her way through this world searching for a way out before she
is trapped forever.
Visually impressive – the CGI effects are first rate and
thankfully not over-played – the film seems like a cross
between a video game, moving through various levels with puzzles
to solve, and a rather warped Alice in Wonderland story. It’s
short on plot, instead allowing a series of unconnected incidents
to push the story along, but the set-pieces are very well done,
and the denizens of this strange world seem both pathetic and
But there’s a central point in the story that made me a
little uncomfortable. At one point, Chu Xan finds herself in a
tunnel full of foetuses and babies – the unborn children
of women who have had abortions. Without spoiling the end of the
film, this turns out to have a specific connection to our heroine
- and the implication is that these foetuses are victims –
discarded people. It’s the sort of message I imagine right-wing
pro-life groups would applaud, and I found it rather disagreeable.
I may be exaggerating this – certainly, I’ve seen
no evidence of anyone else picking up on it – but I thought
it was blatant and crass.
It’s this that stops me from whole-heartedly recommending
the film. But it shouldn’t stop you from checking it out
yourself – on the whole, this is a bold attempt to do something
fresh with the Asian ghost story tradition, and has much to enjoy
after a fairly slow start.
IT NOW (UK)
IT NOW (USA)