Tue 18 Jul 2006
Yet another anthology from the East Black Night consists of 3 short horror films from Hong Kong, Japan, and Thailand using the same formula previously seen in Three…Extremes.
Next Door: Self centered rock chick Jane (Annie Liu) returns from Taiwan to patch things up with on/off boyfriend Joe (Dylan Kuo). Unfortunately Joe shacked up with Hosie (Race Wong) the girl next door while she was away which unbeknown to him has triggered off a deadly love triangle that manifests itself with spooky consequences for those involved.
Shot by Hong Kong director Patrick Leung Next Door never really gets off the ground due to an under written relationship between the two leads which is what the ‘horror’ element justifies itself on. It’s not helped by the fact that neither Jane nor Joe are particularly well thought out characters - Jane is self-obsessed and compulsive, Joe shifts between apartments seemingly with no sense of loyalty to either female companion. When the supernatural elements are introduced (far too early on) they lack any real emotional impact or originality consisting of the same old formulas like random puddles and ghostly children.
Dark Hole: Yuki (Asaka Seto) is haunted by re-occurring nightmares so reluctantly hires psychiatrist Dr. Kawai (Tomorowo Taguchi) to try and find out where the bad dreams are coming from. It doesn’t take long to uncover a series of buried memories deep in Yuki’s subconscious from 15 years previous. Could these subconscious memories explain why a ghostly child in a yellow jumper keeps following her?
Dark Hole is from Japanese director Takihiko Akiyama and noticeably inferior to the previous film in the series. With the visual appearance of a soap opera and a ridiculously absurd plot, even taking into account this is horror fiction, Dark Hole is by far the weakest out of the anthology. You could skip straight to the third film in the series and you really wouldn’t be missing much.
Lost Memory: Young single mother Prang (Pitchanart Sakhakorn) is trying to repatch her life back together following a recent car crash resulting in memory loss whilst still parenting her son. Her vulnerable condition induces intermittent heightened states of paranoia not helped by the local media coverage of a child kidnapper gang still on the loose.
Directed by Thanit Jitnukul this Thai entry is by far the strongest in the anthology. Containing very little in the way of obvious shock tactics Lost Memories is more a portrayal of emotional grief under pined by some super natural imagery. Unlike the previous two films Jitnukul has put some real thought into art direction and cinematography. He’s also the only director to provide a likable central character who the audience can care about.
If you must purchase Black Night then bare in mind it’s only really the third film which is worthy of your money. Even Asian horror completists would have a hard time justifying the purchase. You’re better off watching Three…Extremes and waiting for a UK distributor to pick up Black Night so you can give it a rental.