RIGOR MORTIS **** Hong Kong 2014 Dir: Juno Mak. 103 mins
A strikingly effective directorial debut for actor / writer Mak, its tone set by a stunningly beautiful opening sequence. A famous actor moves to a grungy apartment in a public housing tenement, ostensibly to hang himself after his wife leaves him. The other residents save him, but his near-death appears to have unlocked…something and soon black-haired ghostly twins with cracking joints, spectral children and vampire hunters carrying glutinous rice with them at all times are springing out of the woodwork.
Punctuated by blackly comic, deliberately disjointed conversation (“What do vampire hunters do when there are no fucking vampires left? They cook…”) and sporting a suitably episodic structure as different characters unveil their own backstories, this distinctive, stylishly shot movie cannily avoids the clichés we expect while paying rich homage to the Chinese vampire movies of the 80’s. Director Mak surpasses the barely coherent, fragmented narrative with nightmarish images, romanticism, gruesome visuals and a bravura scene of a freshly reborn, ablaze, disfigured, hopping vampire sparking into life.
Review by Steven West