Ab-normal Beauty

Ab-normal Beauty

Rating: 7/10
Year: 2004
Genre: Thriller
Director: Oxide Pang
Cast: 2R, Anson Leung

Attention: Possible spoiler below!

Another new horror-thriller entry from the Pang Brothers with new beauty faces of 2R and young kid Anson Leung. On the whole, the movie can be seen as organized into 3 parts: (1) Race's obsession with photographing the dead & deceased; (2) Psychological recovery of Race from dead art obsession; & (3) incoming a snuff film psycho-killer & the final confrontation with Race.

The film excels in the stylistic editing of the Pang Brothers & the cool cinematography and art direction team coming from an exclusive Thai crew. However, the cinematic images are too filled up with ideas borrowed directly from Georges Franju's Eyes Without A Face & Blood of the Beasts. The third part of the film narative also takes full advantage of Alejandro Amenabar's debut, Tesis. Though the last part is also the most violent one, the mystery element of whodunit fails to build up the necessary tension & the resolution looks too laughably naive and unconvincing.

The first part of the story is, imo, very effectively delivered. Race, a single child raised by her enterprising single mother, is an art student with an obsessive desire toward things (human dead bodies and animal dead) dead and deceased. Animal lovers should be warned beforehand as Oxide Pang shoots this part with ideas borrowed from Georges Franju's short, Blood of the Beasts. Race's obsession with things dead has led to the development of a delusional character while wearing a face mask (another image taken directly from Franju's Eyes Without A Face). In her love romance, Race is a lesbian, a story plot that, again, imo, should have its full exploitation by injecting strong erotic images of love scene between Race & her lover in the movie, Rosanne (who happens to be the twin sister of Race in real life).

The second part begins to unravel once Race's character begins a natural state of uncontrollable chaos & self-destruction. The love hunt by Anson Leung of Race brings more harm than good to the girl. Rosanne remains the only one that could have helped Race. Here the movie begins to lose steam and energy because one could not see how & why Race could have recovered so easily without any psychiatric treatment. The boredom is somewhat compensated by Pang's creative imagery & Race's likeable act of a sickly lunatic beauty.

The third part is most problematic and detaches somewhat from a creepy psycho-horror to that of a Euro-graphic horror. Upon Race's recovery, she soon receives anonymous mails of a VHS copy that invites her to participate in a visual horror of a deadly snuff film. Soon after this, Race's lesbian lover is being kidnapped and appeared live in another VHS copy. Race is imminently in danger of becoming the next victim. ...

Pang's shift to Euro-horror has a chance of success if only his script collaboration with Curran Pang has been more creative in seeking out the best Italian giallo elements instead of the now completed whodunit product that looks so unnecessary and inconsistent. The violence contained in this part exceeds the one shot in Tesis but never attains the level found in Evil Dead Trap.

Having said this, the movie is well worth a watch as a rare HK product with images that look more Euro-cult than the standard Hollywood-style. It would be too good if the Pang Brothers can work out a better script by keep up the hybrid of Euro-horror elements & a unique Asian setting.

Cool guy(s) - Race

Reviewed by: Sebastian Tse