To follow on from the first Three
Extremes release, we have another Tartan Asia
Extreme collection of three horror film shorts. Again, these
are separate and unconnected, showcasing the talents of a
further three directors: Kim Ji-Woon from South Korea, Nonzee
Nimibutr from Thailand, and Peter Ho-Sun Chan of Hong Kong
(who brought us the acclaimed horror film A Tale of Two
Memories (Ji-Woon), a woman regains consciousness on
the street with no inkling of her identity and recent movements.
Meanwhile, her husband sits at home with friends and relatives,
waiting for news. Similarly, he has no idea where she is or
why she left. While the woman wanders the streets, regaining
through flashbacks just enough memory to recall where she
should be, her husband is drawn to the boot of his own car,
where a dismembered body is discovered in a large holdall.
Although this short runs to only 38 minutes, you get the distinct
feeling it could have been comfortably told in half the time.
It takes an age to get going, and then further frustrates
by dragging its heels through a predictable plot. The concept
is good, the performances are solid, if lethargic, but the
pacing is incredibly slow, and it tries to borrow too heavily
Ring in style. I have a problem with the unlikely
premise of both husband and wife separately and simultaneously
suffering amnesia, even if the woman is dead.
Wheel (Nimibutr) follows the realisation of a curse. When
a Puppet Master dies it is said that the puppets are imbued
with the spirit of their master, and that they go with him.
If anyone tries to prevent this happening they are cursed
to suffer a painful death. Instructions are left to drown
the puppets, but instead it is those undertaking the task
who are drowned. When a teacher at a theatrical troupe tries
to steal the valuable puppets for himself, a catalogue of
disasters befalls the entire troupe.
very few special effects to talk of; only deft camera work
and lighting, and an abundance of weird noises from the soundtrack
to keep you on edge - this is a much more effective tale of
greed and disrespect. Although there's a lot of white-faced
ghosts in Japanese horror (particularly young women), I couldn't
help being reminded of the little boy in The Grudge
when the two drowned children make a brief appearance. There's
a nice twist at the end of this one which, you might remember,
was a recurrent plot device in the first Three Extremes.
Going Home (Ho-Sun Chan), a policeman moves into a tenement
building due for demolition with his young son. The boy is
left to his own devices for much of the time when his father
is working. There is only one other apartment occupied. A
strange man, his paralysed wife and their young daughter keep
to themselves, but the little boy is terrified of the girl
for no apparent reason. After being cornered into talking
to her, the boy goes missing. His policeman father bursts
in on the other tenant, to demand what he has done with his
son. What he finds is the strange man caring constantly for
his dead wife, insistent that she will soon awaken.
Now we're talking. This one is worth the money alone; it's
sheer quality merely highlights further the shortcomings of
the first two tales. There's an awful lot crammed into the
short running time, but it never feels rushed. Performances
are powerful and characterisation strong. This one has everything.
It's creepy, it's sad, and conversely it's also strangely
uplifting. Plot strands are uncovered a tantalising piece
at a time, and revelations are both surprising and sensible
(not simply senseless eye candy). Going
Home is this disc's salvation, and gains a extra point
because of it.
Unfortunately, there's no Making Of documentary this
time. It would have been nice to have viewed behind the scenes
on Chang's contribution.