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Shiver
Chinese: 心寒
Athena Chu freaks out in Shiver
Year: 2003
Director: Billy Chung Siu-Hung
Producer: Daniel Lam Siu-Ming
Cast: Francis Ng Chun-Yu, Athena Chu Yan, Nick Cheung Ka-Fai, Tiffany Lee Lung-Yi, Patrick Tang Kin-Won, Hui Siu-Hung, Gloria Wong, Ben Cheung Ka-Lun, Viann Leung Wai-Ka, Felix Lok Ying-Kwan
The Skinny: Decent horror-thriller which defies a few expectations and delivers an interesting time. Sure direction and some surprising acting make up for the film's ultimate inconsequence and predictability.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Francis Ng is Chan Kwok-Ming, a hard boiled cop who's on the verge of losing his neglected wife Sammi (Athena Chu). With their marriage on the brink, and the two caught in their car during a traffic jam, an armed robbery erupts near them. Ming exits the car to stop the thieves, but there's a price: during the ensuing shootout, Sammi gets a bullet to the head. She lives, but her recovery is a difficult one. Not only is she dependent on her husband—who loves her but still neglects her for his work—but she also suffers from visions of violent crimes. Even more, she starts seeing a pale, mortally wounded woman wandering around her apartment. She fears she's become possessed, but all Ming can do is leave her in the care of Dr. Ko (a taciturn Nick Cheung). Ming has his own issues: a series of grisly murders have begun to appear. Each victim possesses a mysterious wound on their neck—a wound which Ming happens to find particularly familiar. Even more, Sammi's violent visions are picture-perfect retellings of the current series of murders. What gives? Is Sammi clairvoyant? Or is she being haunted? And what's with the neck wounds?

Shiver was directed by Billy Chung, who has turned in some competent work despite the exploitation littering his filmography. Chung follows through here, giving the film spare style, effective pacing, and a thoughtful attention to detail. The hows and whys of Shiver are doled out with opaque finesse; the pieces of the mystery come to light with regular, but quietly earned efficiency. Though the characters and incidents are not entirely explained, enough is shown to make them understandable and even affecting. Adding to this are the actors, who turn in effective and sometimes surprising performances. Francis Ng is dependably intense, and Athena Chu is convincingly distraught—when she's not obviously overacting. Nick Cheung turns in an against-type performance as a non-wacky doctor whose quiet nature belies hidden emotions. Even the cinematography is a step above average. For what's essentially a run-of-the-mill horror thriller, Shiver is surprisingly well made.

With that in mind, it's easier to forgive the film when it reaches its shockingly benign climax. Shiver conjures up some uncomfortable situations and chilling emotions—which is why it feels like such a rip off when everything gets tied up so incredibly neatly. When the film hits overdrive, it becomes all too apparent who's responsible for the grisly shenanigans, and though the motives are deeply felt, the methods to the killer's madness are both far-fetched and even a little silly. Not only are all the facts explained in easy-to-understand connect-the-dots fashion, but the solutions to the ultimate problems are jarringly convenient. You'd think that a film with difficult emotions would provide difficult solutions, but the screenwriters went the easy route and made everything mucho easy. Characters provide easy ephiphanies, bad guys hand over easy solutions, and the film ends with a throwaway moment which serves absolutely no purpose considering all the drama which came before. It's almost enough to make Shiver feel like a total waste, but it really isn't. When you take average stuff and spruce it up so well, some amount of credit should be given. (Kozo 2004)

 
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
 
image courtesy of Universe Laser and Video Co., Ltd.
   
 
 
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