Black Night
Hong Kong Japan Thailand 2006
Directed by Patrick Leung, Takahiko Akiyama, Thanit Jitnukul.

After the success of THREE and THREE: EXTREMES, it was only a matter of time before other studios had a go at the horror "triptych" using the same box office generating conceit of featuring directors and actors from several asian countries within a single film. The only surprise is that it took so long -- further evidence of the lack of vitality of the Hong Kong film industry. Still, at least it wasn't a complete hack job, BLACK NIGHT is a perfectly acceptable anthology film, and while there are no very strong stories, there are no complete flops, either.

NEXT DOOR is the Hong Kong entry, directed by Patrick Leung. Taiwanese Jane (Annie Liu) comes home to her boyfriend, a police officer (Dylan Kuo), who has been having an affair with Hosie (Race Wong), the mainland girl in the apartment next door. Unfortunately a little handcuff play got out of hand, and now true love is the only thing standing in the way of a vengeful ghost. Annie Liu is a standout in the cast, and good things are undoubtably in her future. Thematically, one can't help but notice the nationality of the characters: Hong Kong dates Taiwan, Taiwan leaves for a while and Hong Kong beds down with China, and then tries to sit on the fence between the two, and that's when all hell breaks loose.

DARK HOLE, from Japanese director Takahiko Akiyama, is about Yuki (Asaka Seto), a woman who raised an indescribable creature she named "Hyu" when she was a child, and who now goes about killing people. Or perhaps, her therapist suspects she has multiple personalities. (Cue appearance of creature here). Takahiko Akiyama, the promising new director of 2005's HINOKIO, appears to be shooting on video, and overuses a variety of cheap video effects (blur, frame-jumping, etc) to no good effect.

THE LOST MEMORY is from Thai director Thanit Jitnukul, about a love triangle gone wrong, and a child stuck in the middle. One of them is already dead, though, and wants the rest to join him on the other side.

The anthology would have better been called DARK WATER if the name hadn't already been taken, as water is what that ties the three films together. Fear of water, drowning, things in the water, rainstorms. Another through line between the films is medical treatment for the female protagonists. In both the first and third stories the main concern the men in their lives have is whether they are off their meds, while in the second, she is seeing a therapist. But the strongest connection between the three films is the sensibility; they are like nothing so much as the old 1950's TALES FROM THE CRYPT comics, which were filled with dead lovers jilted by cheating husbands, who emerge from the sea, decaying and covered in seaweed, to take their revenge. In the words of the writers of those old tales, GOOD LORD choke!

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on September 23, 2006.

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