haunted by a ghost that looks like Amber Kuo does not sound so bad. In fact, it
is rather pleasant. So much so, moving on will be an issue for both the spirit
of Cherr and Wong Wing-fatt, the gritty exorcist she “haunts” (for lack of a
better term). However, hastening the departure of a very angry vengeance-seeking
ghost will take priority over personal karma issues in Nick Cheung’s Keeper of Darkness (trailer here), which screens during
the 2016 New York Asian Film Festival.
lives on the margins of society, largely maintaining nocturnal hours. He will
accept exorcism gigs, but he also seems to have an ambiguous affiliation with a
local triad. After video of his latest ghost-busting goes viral, aspiring
writer Fong Zi-ling approaches the mystery man, hoping for some sensational
dish. She will get way, way more than she bargained for.
vaguely Lurch looking Hark has been seeking out psychics, demanding they find
the man responsible for the brutal murder of his family and killing them when
their dubious gifts are exposed. Recognizing Wong is the real deal (The Force
is strong in this one), Hark gives him a three-day deadline. With Fong’s research
assistance, Wong delves into the 1969 murders, but he intends to disperse Hark
rather than facilitate his revenge. However, the clock is also ticking with
respect to his relationship with Cher. After years spent lingering on our
plane, she is finally due to reincarnate in the days to come. Yet, she worries
about leaving Wong alone.
there is plenty of spooky Hong Kong ghost movie atmospherics going on in Keeper, it builds towards a surprisingly
poignant climax, in the tradition of Richard Matheson’s relationship-driven
films and novels (such as What Dreams May
Come). The pseudo-love triangle-ish kind of thing that develops between
Wong, Cherr, and Fong is emotionally intelligent and totally credibly (given
the fantastical circumstances). Frankly, Keeper
packs a wallop when it fully reveals Wong and Cherr’s backstory.
his second directorial outing, HK superstar Nick Cheung creates a rather messy
world, but there is an eerie logic to it. We have seen plenty of ghost films
before, but he and screenwriter Yeung Sin-ling give the genre at least three or
four fresh twists. He also looks massively weird with bleach blond hair.
the ghostess with the mostess, Kuo puts the Demi Moore movie to shame with her
sensitive, downright ethereal performance. Newcomer Sisley Choi plays Fong with
an appropriate blend of moxie and skittishness. Former Shaolin monk Xing Yu
(a.k.a. Shi Yanneng) unleashes a death stare for Hark that makes potted plants
and small animals wither and die. Plus, there are at least half a dozen big
name stars making appearances in various states of death or possession.
Arguably, Cheung drags things out five or ten
minutes past the point the end titles should have been rolling, but it is still
a nifty supernatural thriller. There are some genuinely creepy sequences, but
it is character that really powers the film. Highly recommended for fans of Cheung
and genre-bending horror films, Keeper of
Darkness screens this Saturday (7/9) at the SVA Theatre, as part of this
Labels: Amber Kuo, Ghost movies, Hong Kong Cinema, Horror Movies, Nick Cheung, NYAFF '16, Xing Yu