Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 12th, 2014
BluRay released: July 8th, 2014
Approximate running time: 105 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Cantonese, Dolby Digital Stereo Cantonese, DTS-HD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
BluRay Release: Well Go USA
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $29.98
It has been far too long since I saw a really good Chinese made Horror film. Where martial arts themed films or historical epics seem to be the two types of films that are most in vogue in Chinese cinema at this moment, while Horror themed films are far and few in-between. Then comes along a film like Rigor Mortis which reminds us that all is not lost when come to Horror cinema in China, more specifically Hong Kong.
Content wise Rigor Mortis can best be described as a tribute 1980’s Horror cinema from Hong Kong which hailed such films like Encounters of the Spooky Kind and it’ sequel, Vampire Vs. Vampire, Mr. Vampire and its sequels. And though all of these listed films make fall within the Horror genre, they are all also linked as being part of genre of films known as jiangshi films. In more recent years this genre has had made a slight comeback with films like The Era of Vampires and The Twins Effect.
The main difference between many of these new jiangshi films is that they focus more on the bloodletting and they lack the humor that was this genre of films most durable asset. And in this regard Rigor Mortis is also lacking as there is nothing remotely funny that occurs in this film as they moments of Macabre on screen are meant to be frightening and at times grotesque. With that being said, what does occur onscreen more than makes up for any lack of humor.
Rigor Mortis was directed by actor, turned first time filmmaker Juno Mak (Revenge: A Love Story) who creates a world that is utterly tangible with his solid direction. Also the film’s visuals are strong throughout and lend a tremendous amount of atmosphere to the impending dread the looming around every corner. This film’s most disturbing moment involves the death of a child and though said death occurs off-screen, the way in which it is shoot is never the less potent.
Narrative wise this film does not take the most conventional of paths and the best way to experience this film is to not take things at face value. Paying attention to details is of the utmost importance. In other area of the production pacing is never an issue, the film’s special effects and marital arts sequences are well executed.
Performance wise the cast are very good in their respective roles. With this film’s strongest performance coming from Anthony Chan (Mr. Vampire) in the role of the landlord who also just happens to be an expert in black magic and martial arts. Another performance of note Kara Hui (My Young Auntie) in the role of a distraught woman who uses to live in the apartment the protagonist now lives before her husband murder two twins girls there.
Where the majority of Horror films wrap things up neatly and suffer from their own predictability. Every now and then comes along a film like Rigor Mortis that challenges us to look beyond what is on the surface and dig deeper for the truth. And though this film can be thoroughly enjoyed in one viewing. To fully digest all this film is trying express multiple viewings are recommended.
Rigor Mortis comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Details looks razor sharp, colors and flesh tones look accurate, black and contrast levels look solid throughout. There are no issues with compression of DNR.
This release comes with four audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in Cantonese, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Cantonese, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. All four audio mixes sounds clean, clear and balanced. Of course the two DTS-HD 5.1 mixes offer a more engrossing audio experience as they does a superb job with the more ambient noises and make sure things are robust when they need to be. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles.
Extras for this release are limited to a trailer for the film and trailers for other titles also available from Well Go USA. Overall Rigor Mortis gets a first rate audio / video presentation from Well Go USA.
Note: This film is also being released by Well Go USA on DVD.