Ab-normal Beauty

Starring: 2R (Race, Rosanne) and Anson Leung
Tartan Asia Extreme
RRP: 19.99
TVD 3588
Certificate: 18
Available 27 March 2006

Jiney is a gifted award-winning art student who specialises in photography. Tired of mundane subject matter, she seeks a new angle. When a vehicle accident occurs outside her apartment block Jiney nervously takes pictures of the dying driver. The resulting developed pictures convince her she can see the point of death. Subsequently, she becomes obsessed with capturing death on film, but the consequences begin to take their toll as she spirals into a pit of madness and despair - not helped by constant flashbacks of her abuse as a child. Only her best friend Jas can bring her back to the fun-loving woman she used to be. However, someone knows about her fascination of death and is sending her anomalous torture snuff movies. As if that isn't bad enough, the victim of the next snuff video is Jas. Jiney realises she might be about to experience the ultimate death - her own...

I had very high expectations for Ab-Normal Beauty. My favourite subtitled foreign film is The Eye (yes, I've mentioned it again). This movie is also made by the Pang Brothers, and is also set both in Hong Kong and Thailand. I suppose it was to be expected that the Pangs' next project would be somewhat different in its format - even more so than The Eye 2 was to the original. This time they've elected to go for realism in its horror, rather than the supernatural. The first half of the plot explores Jiney's characterisation and her plummet into depression, whereas the last scenes metamorphose Ab-Normal Beauty into a serial killer whodunit.

Call me a hypocrite if you like; I enjoy my meat but find nothing entertaining about the slitting of chicken necks just to show them bleeding on camera. Even if it was achieved in this case with film trickery, it still seeks the same purpose; to me this is not horror, it's simply crude and unsavoury - even if it's a necessity of life. The whole subject matter is morbid and not particularly to my liking, affecting my score accordingly. Nevertheless, this is a well- made movie, competently acted, and with good use of music to heighten the shocks (there are no real scares). It can be believed that anyone this preoccupied with death would take a similar slide into mental sickness and depression as Jiney, and this gives the film further credence.

Ty Power

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