Director: Marco Mak, Bowie Lau, Not a Woman
Cast: Karen Mok, Stephen Fung, Jordan Chan, Shu Qi
Without doubt the horror genre is reviving in Hong Kong this year. Films like Inner Senses, Eye, The and Three are all significant achievements. Especially for Three, the employment of three short stories reminds me of the popular Troublesome Night series (the first few episodes, not the DV series afterwards) a few years ago. The advantage of short story is that the pace of the story is much faster and it can capture the attention of the audience easier, particularly in the case when the plot is not that rich.
By the introduction above, I do not mean the story of Haunted Office is very weak, on the contrary, I do think the directors have successfully utilized the advantage of short story and created a frantic and horrific atmosphere for the film. The three short stories are connected wisely. Although there is not any kind of chain reaction, they do intertwine and the transition from one story to another is presented smoothly.
All three short stories are quite entertaining. They contain elements that shock you, make you laugh and are touching. However, don't expect any surprising ideas, the logic of certain part of the plot also has some problems. The first story The Last Block shows clear influence of Japanese horror film. The use of camera angle, mise-en scene and sound effect are very effective, the only problem is that the plot is not intact enough. It lacks tension and creativity. The second story Work on time is the most entertaining among the three. Actually I would say it is the most humorous one instead of entertaining. The style of this story is quite different from the rest. It seems that the director does not intend to make us laugh, but certain scenes are just too funny and hilarious. As the climax of the film, Choice follows the successful formula of Hollywood blockbuster Sixth Sense, The. The twist at the end is the biggest surprise of this story, yet, similar to its predecessor, the plot has some flaws that allow us to predict what is going to happen in the end way before the mystery is uncovered. Anyway, a piece of advice is, don't read the synopsis before you watch this film, the synopsis discloses a lot of the twists that are very discouraging to those who haven't seen it yet.
Perhaps Haunted Office is not as creative as Eye, The or Three, nevertheless, it is absolutely not an insignificant work. All in all, with this medium size budget, the directors have already tried their best to provide 90 minutes of entertainment that is of acceptable quality.
VCD (US version) - It seems that Taiseng VCD always suffers from poor image quality. In this VCD, the image is not as bad as before, but still, the price and the quality of the VCD are not balanced (for the same price you can probably get a DVD of the same film in Hong Kong).
Reviewed by: Kantorates