Netflix A-Z: Missing (2008)

Next up in the Netflix A-Z is the M selection! We’re taking a look at Hong Kong 2008 horror/drama called Missing. Many of you know that I do enjoy watching Angelica Lee especially after seeing her in The Eye. While her movies are never bad, they have a hard time measuring up to the fear in The Eye. I guess the only other one I’ve reviewed here is Sleepwalker and that was average. You can find the review HERE.  The one that comes closest so far would have to be Re-Cycle and that one still needs a full review here. On another note, its kind of a surprising coincidence that I was just mentioning Hark Tsui in the review of The Mermaid and look here, he is the director.

Lets see how Missing is! 🙂

Missing (2008)

Missing 2008

Director (and writer): Hark Tsui

Cast: Angelica Lee, Chen Chang, Isabella Leong, Xiaodong Guo, Tony Ka Fai Leung, Chen-Yue Chang

After her husband is killed in a mysterious accident, a widow is haunted by images of things she has never seen or experienced.-IMDB

 An hour 58 minutes…. Give me a sec while I let that run time sink in for a sec.

Okay…I felt like this was endless.  I think I took about 4 breaks in between and went off to chat with my husband, play with my cat and check out Facebook and probably paused and played a Youtube video in between. I mean, Missing has some great ideas but right from the opening credits panning across the cliffs and waves crashing on it and the cast and crew’s name blurrily showing up on the rocks, I kind of had an idea that this wasn’t going to be great.  But you know, don’t judge a book by its cover, right? So, I trudged on. I think what the problem here is the core of why I think Hong Kong has a hard time making good horror movies.  Missing is promoted as a horror movie and yet, it starts off as a romance, mystery, suspense, then flips over to horror for a good chunk in the middle and boom…surprise twist, then drama and romance to wrap it up. Okay, maybe I didn’t see the twist or I just didn’t care enough to think about where this movie was going except for wondering how many turns I had left before it would just get to the point and just end.

Missing 2008

Let me rant one more paragraph before we get to some pros of the movie because you know I try my darnedest to find some good points in any movie, or what would be the movie in fighting through it, right? Acting and dialogue, my friends.  I never think too much about overacting but does Missing ever overact. All the time! The reactions are ridiculous! The dialogue is so clunky and unengaging.  Its a little crazy that this was written and made by Hark Tsui that has made great movies in the past.  I mean, he made Once Upon a Time in China.  On a more recent note, he made Time and Tide which wasn’t amazing but it still was entertaining to watch. Angelica Lee is decent in this and so is the small supporting role of Tony Ka Fai Leung, although I can’t get behind the hair style they gave his character.  Even Isabella Leong was good, especially since she had quite a fluctuation in her character and she handled it all well. Talking about coincidences, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny did come out recently and you know the young dude in that one, he is in here.  Chen Chang is in this one and he does quite good also as the character Simon. Sure there’s overacting but the cast can only do so much with what the script offers, right?

Missing 2008

Like I said before, there is a little bit of merit here. While its predictable and full of horror tropes, in his horror portion in the middle chunk somewhere, it does have a few good horror moments.  It might be just because they build the mood well and Isabella Leong does well at creeping me out and Angelica Lee has these great scared reactions.  And the ghosties are kind of scary and I mean, one in particular. The atmosphere was there.  If they had built it around that portion and expanded on that and took out all that other mess, it could’ve been a decent movie.

There is no crime in sticking to one genre. There isn’t! I wish some directors would realize that.  Missing had a tiny bit of potential of being good but it was lost rather quickly.  The movie was slow and pretty messy and pointless for the most part.  While the acting was okay despite the overacting probably because of the script itself, it fell a lot short of what I’d expect from a Hark Tsui production. Missing is really not worth the 2 hours you’ll take to go through this one which might make you feel like its 3 hours long.

Have you seen Missing? What are your thoughts?

Next up for Netflix A-Z is N! I got double feature in store for you…kind of. Can you guess what it is?

Halloween Marathon: Sleepwalker (2011)

Moving right along with the review, last night wasn’t quite as productive as I wanted it to be but I did manage to get one movie done and its the one I was looking forward to. With Oxide Pang at the helm and Angelica Lee as the main actress, I was pretty excited to check out Sleepwalker.  My all time favorite horror is The Eye (the original one) and very much in to the top ones are Re-cycle (which is more of a fantasy horror).  I’ve never written a full review of either but I remember those movies like I watched it yesterday.  Fully engraved in my mind.  Of course, he has a few flicks that I’m not too excited about either and some I still look forward to watch but a few weeks ago, Sleepwalker landed in my recommended list on Netflix and I added it right away and made a note to watch it before the month is through.  After all, whats a little horror marathon without touching some Hong Kong films, right? I mean, I always pop one  in every little while and its been a while I haven’t watched one.

Lets check this out!

sleepwalkerDirector: Oxide Pang Chun

Cast: Angelica Lee, Siyan Huo, Charlie Yeung, Hee Ching Paw, Kent Cheng

Yi (Angelica Lee) wakes up from the same dream every night and it feels extremely real and eerie.  Not long after, she is suspected to be related to the disappearance of her ex-husband.  Its then she realizes that she may be sleepwalking after various events link together.  It makes her wonder if she has been killing in her sleep.

Seriously, nowhere has a good description of this movie.  Not Netflix, not IMDB…its really hard to sum up this movie because there are two stories going on at the same time.  Its essentially a kidnapping case where a mom (played by Charlie Yeung) is looking for her boy thats been kidnapped for 3 months and the kidnapper never returned even after ransom was paid.  On the other hand, you have Yi, played by Angelica Lee who is learning that she sleepwalks and as she starts suspecting that she’s doing something questionable during her sleepwalking experience, she is being suspected of murder also.

sleepwalker

Sleepwalker was a bit of a disappointment. I understand that its hard for a director to be equally efficient in many movies.  Except I can’t really put it on the same scale when its the Pang brothers versus just Oxide Pang himself. There is a lot to like in this one though.  There are some slow parts and some weird moments and a whole lot of building up the mood and atmosphere but the story behind it is a good one.  They even add a pretty nice twist to it.  I didn’t figure it out so extra points for that. From the start, it has this creepy feeling to the whole thing.  The main scares are trying to use abrupt sounds and movements and increasingly loud background music to create it.  Maybe that works for you, maybe it doesn’t.  I guess that depends on the person.  For me, it worked alright.  Except at the end, I started feeling like the story wasn’t much of a thriller and turned into a mystery drama.  But, I like the ending because it kind of takes the audience in a full circle and gets back to that nagging way that it started and wondering why that beginning was there. If you’ve seen this I don’t mean the ending ending but like the way the mystery unfolds.

sleepwalker

Angelica Lee is amazing in these thriller/horror/fantasy/drama.  That sort of thing really works for her.  I think that some actors are great with a certain type of director and she is fantastic with Oxide Pang.  Any faults in this movie doesn’t relate to her role in being Yi.  I liked the girl who played the cop.  For a newer actress (to me), she did pretty well, even if at times, I felt she was a little too rigid.  I always wish that Charlie Yeung (actress above) had more on screen time because she was once a really good actress and she can still do it more mature roles now.  The one person I didn’t like and might cause me to not watch this again was one of the guys.  I’ve never seen him before and he played  the friend of Angelica Lee and he did really bad in what he had.  I felt his character wasn’t hiding what he was supposed to hide too much and it turned out that it completely helped me guess part of the twist.

sleepwalker

I’m going to keep this short because I really don’t have much to say.  Oxide Pang and his Pang brothers directing effort in Re-cycle and The Eye is amazing. Sleepwalker has a good premise and creates a creepy atmosphere successfully. As always, Angelica Lee is great as the main lead.  There are other factors that make this not so effective as a thriller and it had the potential to be better and thats why I’m a bit disappointed.  I still think its worth a watch 🙂

Halloween special going up by midnight! I’m not even sure what I’m doing for it yet but I’ll figure it out by then 🙂

Happy Halloween! 🙂

Part 3: INTENSE Horror Movies

First of all, let me apologize for this list being late.  I wanted it to be posted up by the end of the weekend but I hadn’t finished watching it.  Its completely my fault though.  I needed a day off halfway through to clear my mind a bit and catch back a lot of lost sleep.

As I promised, here is the list for intense horror movies.  Its definitely built up to this point.  For these ones, my boyfriend helped me as mentioned last time.  The reason is that I haven’t seen ANY new horror movies after The Haunting in Connecticut in 2009.  Some of you may think I’m crazy and even my boyfriend doesn’t understand why it just made me scared to that point that I wouldn’t watch another one.  Honestly, I don’t know either but, for you, this week I’m exploring horror movies.  Some I’ve seen, some I haven’t but my boyfriend,Eric and I will do this movie marathon together (for the most part).  He was the one that chose 80% of the movies.  I only contributed the other 20% because I wanted him to see those.

I’m picking up all my courage to do this and jumping back into the horror world.

So no more babble, lets get down to business! INTENSE horror movie marathon begins NOW!!

1) Candyman (1992)

Director: Bernard Rose

Cast: Virgina Madsen (The Haunting of Connecticut, Number 23), Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass, Taken), Tony Todd (Final Destination 1,2,3,5)

Plot: A university student Helen (Virginia Madsen) is doing a paper on urban legends.  She has heard about the Candyman legend in Cambrini Green and she goes off with her friend (and classmate) to seek out the truth behind it.  Candyman is a man who was tortured to death because of his love for a woman he was not supposed to be with.  She tries to summon him and things go really bad.

This is a slow-paced horror movie which packs in some startling moments.  It can be gory and bloody at times.  It is quite suspenseful at other times as we don’t know if Candyman actually exists.  Its about beliefs and doubts in the entities around us which is exactly what the Candyman thrives and lives on.  To me, its the perfect way to start off this marathon.  It wasn’t exactly intense horror but it did have its scary factors.  On top of that it was written by Clive Barker and well, thats my boyfriend’s favorite horror author.

2) Three Extremes (2004)

Director: Fruit Chan, Chan-Wook Park, Takashi Miike

Cast:

Dumplings: Miriam Yeung, Bai Ling, Tony Ka-Fai Leung

Cut: Byung-Hun Lee (Hero, The Good, The Bad and The Weird, G.I. Joe Retaliation), Won-Hie Lim, Hye-Jeong Kang

Box: Kyoko Hasegawa, Atsuro Watabe (The Flowers of War), Mai Suzuki, Yuu Suzuki

Plot: A compilation of 3 shorts starting with “Dumplings”, the Hong Kong horror short (which also has a full-length feature) about a fallen actress and wife of a rich man(Miriam Yeung) who goes to find a woman (Bai Ling) who is renowned for her dumplings that help rejuvenate.  The second short is from Korea-“Cut”.  A reknowned director (Byung-Hun Lee) comes home and gets knocked out.  When he wakes up he is tied up and there is a stranger (Won-hie Lim), who was an extra, in his movies at his house.  The third short is of Japan’s feature-“Box”.  This is about Kyoko, a girl who wakes up from the same dream of two young sisters who are contortionist and their relationship with their ringmaster.

This selection is pretty much three shorts and I couldn’t really give a big description because if you haven’t seen it, then it would be just spoiling the fun.  Part of the horror is in not completely knowing whats going on and just watching disturbing and twisted mentalities weave us these three different stories.  I can understand and be a bit more scared of the Hong Kong one as there is a belief in Hong Kong that makes that concept just a bit more disgusting and even more twisted than the plot itself shows.  Its as the title calls it. Its extremities in the psychologically disturbed and the mentally unstable and the twisted ideas magnified.

3) 28 Days Later (2002)

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: Cilian Murphy (Batman Begins, Dark Knight Rises), Naomie Harris, Christopher Eccleston (The Others)

Plot: An infection has spread and the main symptom is rage.  28 days after it was spread, England has been evacuated but it was too late.  Jim (Cilian Murphy) wakes up to find that he is in an empty hospital and goes out in search for someone who can help him figure out what is going on.  As he walks around the city, he encounters the infected and are saved by two survivors, Selena and Mark.  The only way for them now is to stay alive.

This one could have possibly been the first horror movie I saw in theatres.  Watching it again now, I realized that I’m not as scared as I used to be, but I still think its a really good horror movie.  The story itself is pretty solid and well-shot.  Its all really well put together for a horror movie.  It packed in some eerie scenes and some crazy scenes.  It had some blood and death and zombies (aka the infected, in this case).  It had parts which made me feel endangered for the characters and parts where it was startling and I held my breath. I think it qualifies as a pretty good zombie movie.  Plus, in any horror list, you have to add at least one, right? I have another one lined up as you’ll see further in the marathon.

4) Event Horizon (1997)

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson

Cast: Laurence Fishburne (Matrix), Sam Neill (Jurassic Park 1 &3), Kathleen Quinlan (The Hills Have Eyes, Apollo 13)

Plot: In 2040, Event Horizon was launched to explore the boundaries of the solar system and then disappeared without a trace.  The movie starts in 2047, where a team is sent out to around Neptune because there was a transmission from Event Horizon, to investigate what has happened.  Dr. Weir (Sam Neill) is the consultant who built the “faster than light” travel that Event Horizon had done before it had vanished and is sent along with this team led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne).  When they reach the ship, they detect life form but unable to pinpoint the location from bio scan and are forced to search the ship manually.  Suddenly, strange things start happening.

I think I’m starting to feel that I like Paul W.S. Anderson’s style.  His movies never seem to be very popular to the general public but for us, we love it.  It was gripping and mysterious.  The tone that it set was dark and creepy.  This is the second time I watched this one and I have to say, I had a few moments that really startled me.  I wonder if its because I started analyzing movies more that I am more aware of the bad dialogue or stupid decisions the plot has set the characters to do.  Still, I stay true that it had its horror moments and some disgusting parts to creep the audience out.  I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

5) Pulse (2006)

Director: Jim Sonzero

Cast: Kristen Bell, Ian Somerhalder

Plot: Two students hack into an unknown frequency and unleash something darkness into the world.  A group of college students attempt to know figure out what it is and how to stop it before it gets worse.  More and more deaths happen unexpectedly and suicide is increased in the city. Mattie (Kristen Bell), whose boyfriend was one of the hackers and had died, tries to move on but gets dragged into whatever has crossed over into the world.  She meets Dexter (Ian Somerhalder) who has coincidentally bought Mattie’s boyfriend’s computer system and he gets involved as well.  They try to stop whatever is wrong before it gets out of hand.

This is my first time watching this movie and I think its about one of the top 10 horrors that I’ve seen.  I know its not saying too much, but this whole marathon thing was a good idea, as it opened my eyes to even more horror genre. I had foreseen a pretty sleepless night already and we’re only halfway there.  So this one was a American remake of a Japanese movie.  It probably was a bad remake, and it was packed with obvious dialogue and retarded acting for the main girl at least, but it did creep me out.  It also the 2nd movie so far that I have seen for the first time.  It definitely makes a good impression.  Plus, Pulse has a 2nd and 3rd part so maybe I’ll give those a whirl when I finally move on from this one.

7) The Eye (2002)

Director: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang

Cast: Angelica Lee (Re-cycle), Chutcha Rujinanon, Lawrence Chou

Plot: A blind girl (Angelica Lee) has the opportunity of undergoing a cornea transplant to regain her vision.  After she gets her transplant, she starts seeing a bit more than the normal.  She starts seeing ghosts.  She starts trying to find out who the cornea belonged to and why she has been seeing all these things that she shouldn’t be.

My boyfriend watched this one by himself.  It is the only one where he did because after pulse I needed a bit of time off from crazy ghost and spirit type of movies.  I still remember this one like yesterday.  It was really really spooky.  The images she had, the story behind it, was all very very good.  I was pleased by how they had made it.  Maybe its because of my Asian roots, I get easily creeped out by more spirits and ghost stories because its part of our beliefs.  This one really is the best horror I have seen.  One that I truly appreciate, so I was disappointed at the American remake which pretty much took the whole story then set it in the States and Mexico instead but didn’t really do as great of a job.

6) Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Mekhi Phifer

Plot: Someone infected has spread it to everyone in the city.  There are a few survivors who take refuge in a big shopping mall.  They are desperately making sure that they are not going to have anyone penetrate the building and need to make sure that whoever that wants to come in are not also infected as to not put themselves in danger.  At the same time, they need to find a solution of how to escape the city and hope to find somewhere that are free from the infected and live in peace.

As much as I really like 28 Days Later, I always seem to enjoy this one just a bit more.  Maybe its the factor that we never really know how it all started and its just action and suspense.  It startles us and at the same time brings us to wonder if there is salvation somewhere else.  The characters themselves are convincing as they all have their own stories and their emotional ties that help move the plot forward a bit more to make you feel a bit more connected with the characters.  I’ve never seen the original Dawn of the Dead but my boyfriend says that this one is better in his opinion because it was higher budget or whatnot.  I just have to say, this was a must in our selections and will probably remain that way.

8) Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

Director: Stever Miner

Cast: Betsy Palmer, Amy Steel, John Furey

Plot: Jason’s mom, Mrs. Voorhees has died and Camp Crystal Lake is closed. A counsellor training camp close by is hosting a group of teenagers there.  They are slowly hunted one by one by an unknown killer.  The sheriff has told them to be careful and to not wander into the Camp Crystal Lake area. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen and triggered the man into a killing frenzy.

Please note that I only had my boyfriend’s recap of the first one and he explained a bit of the events that happened and general plot so I had a better understanding, not that I really needed it. This was a fun slasher flick.  I’m usually not a big fan of these but I really enjoyed this one.  My boyfriend said this was his favorite.  We might probably (eventually) sit down and do the marathon of the complete collection(next Halloween?).  It had a few surprising moments that even though sometimes I guessed what would happen next, it still kept me on edge for most of the movie.  I was really involved in it and thats a really good sign when you see me yelling at the TV.  Definitely very entertaining and if you are into slash flicks, I’m sure its a good pick.

9) Halloween (2007)

Director: Rob Zombie

Cast: Scout Taylor-Compton, Malcolm McDowell, Tyler Mane

Plot: Michael Myers (Adult as Tyler Mane) kills his dad and sister at the age of 10 and gets admitted to a mental institution deemed as a psychopath. There he meets Dr. Samuel Loomis (Malcolm McDowell) who tries to get him to open up and confess.  He ends up staying there for 17 years, 15 of those he doesn’t ever speak.  One night he breaks loose in search of his younger sister, Laurie(Scout Taylor-Compton) who is in Haddonfield.  Anyone in his way has to be careful.

Back to back nights of slasher flicks was alright.  Originally, this was supposed to be the original but my boyfriend couldn’t find the DVD so we replaced it with the remake.  He did enjoy it and I did as well. I had different feelings from watching this than Friday the 13th.  It felt just a bit messy because they emphasized so much on his upbringing and how he was made into a psychopath due to the perfect balance of exterior and interior factors in his childhood.  I really liked that aspect and I did get very involved with the progress of the movie.  Same thing as Friday the 13th, I was worried about the turnouts and when he will just pop out and do more slashing.  First time watching this one also and I’m impressed.  When my boyfriend does find the original, I’ll probably give that one a shot.
image

10) Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence

Plot: Frank is on a search for the extremes and finds the cube which is actually a relic that when solved, opens up the realm between pleasure and pain. It summons the souls of the evil who takes his life. Flash forward, Frank’s brother Larry(Andrew Robinson) decides to move in with his wife, Julia(Clare Higgins), into his family house. What he doesn’t know is that Julia had an affair with Frank and when there was bloodshed, Frank has risen from the dead and needs more blood to become whole again.

We started and concluded with a Clive Barker movie/story. This movie wasn’t actually scary but more disgusting. Even though I was lost throughout most of it, and kept asking my boyfriend what was going on. I would say the ending was probably the best part because it was compelling and had some intense moments. I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite in the marathon but it was original.

 

There you have it: The INTENSE HORROR MARATHON! All of you have to be proud of me. I really doubted being able to get myself through this list and I did watch them all, except for The Eye.  That doesn’t really count though.  I had already seen this two times before and I have vivid memories of it already.  Getting through this list means a lot (and I mean A LOT) of sleepless nights.  I’m living on about 3-4 hours of sleep on average per night.  As much as it seems hopeful that I’ll get back into horror, I’m pretty sure its going to now officially be an annual deal.  I’ve learned that even if I don’t get scared initially, as I walk into dark rooms and that sort of thing, my imagination just goes flying.  Now its like a 10 movies mashup reel, so it will take some time (and many comedies) to move on.

 We’ll jump to the list. A big thank you goes to my boyfriend because he helped me edit and actually sat through all those movies.  Looking at the entire list, we were both pleased with the choices.  We did learn that we don’t technically have the same taste as the general public according IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, but its alright.  I’m still quite proud of myself, what more can I say?

Now that you finally get the whole list.  What do you think? What type of horror movies are you into? We tried to cover a few genres with possession, zombies, slasher, disgust and absurd original concepts.  Which ones are you normally into? What gets you startled or intrigued the most? Do you have any favorites that you’d like to share?

**Just a side note, it’s the first time I’m posting with a tablet. If there are any problems, they will be fixed shortly. I’m trying to learn how to do this reasonably well in the next week before I head off to vacation.**