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Ab-Normal Beauty

Hong Kong/Thailand 2004
produced by
The Pang Brothers (Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun) for Magic Head
directed by Oxide Pang Chun
starring 2r (= Race Wong & Rosanne Wong), Anson Leung, Michelle Mei Suet (= Michelle Mee)
written by Oxide Pang Chun

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Looking for new, fresh motives for her pictures, photography student Jin (Race Wong) suddenly finds a strange fascination in the macabre when she happens upon a car crash and knows nothing better to do than take photos of the dead victim.

Soon she sees herself drawn more & more into the world of macabre, even violent images, & occasionally even starts seeing things, much to the concern of her girlfriend Jas (her real life sister Rosanne Wong). It is only when Jin almost throws herself off a high building that Jas learns why her friend is acting rather weird lately: when she was about 5 years old, she was raped by her only slightly older cousin, but when she told her mother (Michelle Mei Suet), she didn't believe her ... & since has rather neglected her daughter.

Jin doesn't jump off the building after all, but the next day, when she sees another girl hurling herself off a building to her death, she photographs every detail quite immediately.

Later a suiter, Anson (Anson Leung), who has been long following her with his DV-cam, & who can't come to terms with the fact that Jin just isn't interested, tops by her house, & she knows nothing better to do than to cover him in fake blood & take pictures of him, which pretty much freaks him out a bit ...

Soon Jin realizes that she loses grip with reality more & more, & calls on Jas to help her, save her ... & Jas figures the only way to get better is to call her mother (who is on a business trip far far away) & tell her again about the rape (when Jin was around 6), & try to conince her ... which works beautifully, as after that, Jin is normal again ... until a videotape is lieing on her doorstep that shows a girl chained to a chair, & being brutally beaten up, then killed.

At first, Jin & Jas think this is a fake made by Anson as a clumsy attempt to win Jin over after all, but he convinces them it was none of his doing ...

The next day, another tape lies on Jin's doorstep, & this time Jas is chained to the chair, is brutally beaten up, then killed. But when Jin wants to call the police, she has to realize whoever-it-is is already in the room, & he knocks her out ...

... when Jin comes to again, she finds herself chained to the chair from the video, surrounded by film & photo cameras, & a hooded stranger brutally beats her up ... but before he can kill Jin, she can, thanks to her former condition, get into his mind, & persuade him to give her a kiss before dieing ... to which occasion the killer foolishly enough puts his heae into a noose, which gives Jin enough time to partially free herself, & suddenly the tables are turned, & while the killer's head is caught in the noose, Jin is soon free & beats him up, eventually kills him.

Then she unmasks him, and it is ... someone who was seen in the film only briefly before & had no meaning to the earlier story (by the way, it was not Jin's rapist cousin, whom she has pushed down some stairs to his death years ago) ...

But it seems, the relationship between jin & her mother is healed at long last.

 

Even it the movie seems to have a emotionally involving story full of psychological abysses, style definitely triumphs over substance here, & not to the best of results ...

All macabre and/or violent images are shown with sufficient gloss & panache, Jin's almost-descent into madness has an almost triplike quality, but once storytelling sets in it seems that director Oxide Pang Chun loses all interest in the script he has written himself ... best example is when jin's life gets more & more out of hand, this is accompanied by cool (if sometimes too perfect images), beu once she calls her mother (as a sort of self-therapy), the camera juist fades out & the next day she is cured.

Same when Jin has to face the killer (who doesn't enter the story until late in the film & then he neters rather apruptly): his violence, & hsi fetishistic costume & gadgets are shown in a way so appealing  that you almost want to sit in the chair instead of Jin (ok, probably not, but I think you get the point), when he's finally unmasked though, the film couldn't care less about any kind of explanation (other than that he was standing around in the film as an extra before).

Rather a pity, all that, because the story could have had potential.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD