15 February 2006 | gusand
Could have been so much better.
I saw this during the Gotenburg Film Festival. Apparently horror films are not really permitted in mainland China so Bingjian Zhang tries to get around this by making a horror film which is not really a horror film at all, rather a Freudian fantasy where you really don't know where the dreams end and reality begins. Sounds weird? Well, you'll get it :)
Visually it's a very beautiful film with stunning images although it's a little too obvious the underwater scenes are shot in a pool. But none the less it's filled with impressive scenes with lots of water, rain and dramatically lit fog.
Unfortunately the film fails miserably being a horror film (or as the poster claimed "Chinas first psycho movie"). It is, by western standards, not even remotely scary. The few scenes that actually gave me any real "gut feeling" were to few and too far apart to create any real atmosphere in the film. And without that you cant really care for the characters and their feelings either.
Maybe I should blame the Chinese censorship instead of the director. But no matter what the cause this films weakest point is that it's way too tame. If it would have had that paranoid feeling like for example "the Machinist" had and succeeded in giving the audience a real taste of the characters fears and paranoia it would have been an instant 9 but without that key ingredient I can't give it more than 6/10.