HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Rigor Mortis
HTS Overall Score:74
When I saw the description of “Rigor Mortis” I knew I had to check this one out. I mean, I love vampire films, and by love I mean I ADORE vampire films. I’ll watch them whether it’s creepy and gory, full of non-stop stupid action, or a plain drama based on vampire lore. I will admit I love a good action vampire film, but “Rigor Mortis” seemed more the creep fest style of vampire movie. I guessed right as “Rigor Mortis” is creeeeeeeeepy as all get out, with a mix of the old “Mr. Vampire” and “Ju-on” (the original “Ring”) mixed into one. While the movie has a lot going for it, with two of the main characters BEING from the original “Mr. Vampire” themselves, but it also falls apart in the 2nd act with too many competing sub plots and a story that doesn’t really get going till the last ½ an hour.
Siu-Ho Chin (played BY Siu-Ho Chin) is a crumbling actor whose life has fallen apart. His wife and kids seem to be dead from flashbacks and he decides to move into a decrepit old public housing apartment complex with suicide on his agenda. As he hangs himself in apartment 2442 he’s possessed by the spirit of a ghost who empowers him with superhuman strength. Before any harm can come to himself or anyone else he attracts the attention of Yau (Anthony Chan) who appears to be the handler of spirit issues in the complex. Exorcising the demon with speed Yau saves Siu-Ho’s life. Everyone in the complex is standing around the door with wide eyes just looking on as this happens, like it’s an everyday experience (kind of a creepy “welcome to the neighborhood”). Yau and Siu-Ho become sort of odd friends and Yau confides in the actor that he’s living out his life in this old complex after spending decades as a vampire hunter. With Vampires gone from the world, he’s got nothing better to do than watch over this haunted building.
This is where the film gets weird real fast. We’ve got the twin ghosts of two sisters that died in the complex as a result of an assault, the wife of the assaulter who’s gone crazy, a black sorcerer, AND a woman who’s just lost her husband. It seems that this woman just won’t let go over her dead husband. Enlisting the aid of the black sorcerer she endeavors to bring his spirit back so she can have a little more time with him. Unfortunately the black sorcerer has an ulterior motive. He most certainly is helping her bring back her husband’s spirit, but just not in the way that she’s expecting. Soon enough her greed and refusal to let go is going to bring a reign of destruction on the whole complex as something unholy is resurrected in her husband’s place. Now it’s up to a down and out actor and a worn out old vampire hunter to stop this reign of terror.
I really wanted to love “Rigor Mortis”, and it does have some great things about it to love. The film is epically creepy as only Chinese horror can do. The film starts out with a bang as we see Yau in action, but that moment is very brief and the story tends to wallow in its own back story and foreshadowing. Siu-Ho actually feels really wasted most of the time and almost like he shouldn’t even be in the story. We’ve got a myriad of sub plots to deal with and that’s where the film really falters. We spend all but the last 30 minutes of the film listening to the old lady sob about her husband, watch Yau and the sorcerer trap a pair of ghosts and listen to the crazy lady who just might know more than people thinks she does. I want to say that it all comes together and solidifies in the end, but that’s only partially right.
The film is just saturated with creepy images and lots of gore, but the last 30 minutes are where the good old Chinese action comes to play as Yau and Siu-Ho go into protector mode on the evil that’s been brought about. It almost seems too little too late, if you know what I mean. With an hour and 10 minutes on the clock already I was starting to lose interest and wind down, and the fight scene is only a few minutes long. Lastly I have to say that they went really horror fest on this one, but then turned the final fight into the old fashioned mystical fights, which felt a bit forced. The real kicker to the film is the last 2 minute “twist” on the ending. I won’t give anything away, but it’s a doozy and totally explains the last hour and 30 minutes. Easily the best part of the film. The only problem is that the middle of the film had lost my interest and that great twist just couldn’t make up for the boredom I was experiencing at that time.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=21962[/img]“Rigor Mortis” carries a very unusually graded 2.39:1 AVC encode as the film looks like it’s covered in ash most of the time. The colors palette is very desaturated, giving it a very grey and sallow look during most scenes. When the film gets REALLY creepy the movie shifts to a glowing red color tone that looks like the pits of hell are upon you, which does add some nice creepiness to the viewing. Detail is quite good, despite the wildly desaturated colors and when you see close up everything is perfectly replicated. Pores and individual hairs can be seen perfectly and even the decorative clothing of the sorcerer looks resplendent. Black levels are INKY black, as the film takes place just bathed in darkness. I know there’s maybe one or TWO scenes in the film that aren’t in pitch black, or just barely lit. For sure it’s going to test your TV’s black level abilities. The only downsides to the picture are the colors and there is some softness to the wider shots, not a lot, but with the lack of colors it makes the film look a little less detailed than it actually is.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=21970[/img]Now the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track are the highlight of the film, as both the Cantonese and English tracks ripple with power. The LFE channel plays a very big role in the film as it constantly throbs and pulsates to the tone of the movie. Much of the bass is really low frequency as well, because many times I could feel things more than I could actually hear that gut wrenching mid bass. The surrounds are constantly active and make you feel right in the middle of the horror, bombarding you with creaking doors, crashing vases and the eerie score. Dialogue is crisp and as clear as one could wish for, locked right in that middle channel with some very good panning effects in the front soundstage. Very eerie, and very powerfully done, the audio is by far the best part of the whole package.
“Rigor Mortis” has a lot of promise and a lot of good going for it, but unfortunately it has just as much bad going for it as well, which makes me feel very torn on the movie. On one hand I really like the horror aspect of the film, the ambience was simply incredible. However, the inclusion of too many sub plots and not enough direction that really hampered the movie. It was a weird “sandwich”, so to speak, with the 1st and last act being good, but the middle act being so boring and aimless that it kind of counterbalances the effects. I have to say that for those of you who like twist endings, the ending really put a smile on my face. I have to say that his one is worth checking out as a rental just for curiosity’s sake, but It’s not something that I’d watch again. Rental.
Starring: Siu-Ho Chin, Anthony Chan, Kara Hui
Directed by: Juno Mak
Written by: Philip Yung, Lai-Yin Leung
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Cantonese: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Cantonese DD2.0, English DD2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 8th, 2014
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