In Review: Rigor Mortis (Geung Si) (2013)

by Maryann O'Connor on 30/04/2015


Rigor Mortis, a horror homage set in a sort of apocalyptic urban wasteland, puzzles laboriously, wrong-foots and confounds but still somehow manages to charm. Fallen from grace star (Siu-Ho Chin) moves into a desolate Hong Kong apartment block having split from his wife and son; he is in a fragile state of mind but soon realises that his is the smallest drama to be had in that particular locale.

Festooned with ghosts, spurting blood, violently broken bones, shadowy necromantic rituals and virgin sacrifice, Juno Mak’s Rigor Mortis does not rely on scare tactics. Instead, it settles for good old disgust and mournful anticipation with a smattering of shallowly explored eccentric characters to provide an ongoing interest in getting to the conclusion of the story.

The parts of the story that remain with you are not the showy, bloody scenes but the acknowledgment of the dead and their continued presence in our lives through their horrifyingly tangible presence in the lives of these apartment block dwellers. Death is presented as both a gift and a curse, something which if not faced can lead to the re-calling of a vampire hunter who thought he had been gracefully retired. Action switches quickly between the impossible and the baffling, with a quick detour for some sorrow and relatable human pain. In that sense it is hard to reconcile the film as a whole.

At times the showy elements far outweigh the substance, dropping crumbs of information here and there but withholding something nameless but important. The tragic aspect of everyone’s lives is discussed but not really anything else, which provides a superficial connection to our imperilled tenement dwellers but nothing about the gore or martial-arts deploying vampire does a good job in making up for that. The most intriguing character, vampire hunter/restaurant runner Lau, feels quite alone in the attention paid to his role. Everything, however farfetched, ties together by the end but the resolution feels quite ramshackle and unsatisfying.

Entertaining but equal parts baffling, Rigor Mortis would be a good filler for a horror marathon, a palate cleanser, but could never be the main event.

Maryann has awarded Rigor Mortis (Geung Si) two Torches of Truth


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