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The Closet
Year: 2007
Francis Ng
Director: Cho Kin-Nam
Cast: Francis Ng Chun-Yu, Yang Zhifei, Eddie Cheung Siu-Fai, Michelle Ye, Zhou Ziyue, Chan Mong-Wah, Johnny Wong
The Skinny: Inexplicable psychological thriller disguised as a horror flick. Decent, but pointless atmosphere and some okay acting don't change the fact that The Closet is one underwhelming film. Francis Ng fans who care little for actual film quality may still be happy, but everyone else may just be bored.
Review
by Kozo:

     Looking for a horror film? Then don't check out The Closet. Though loaded with obvious Asian horror iconography, The Closet is not a horror film. Instead, it's a psychological thriller about magician/artist Fred Lo (Francis Ng), who botches a televised underwater performance and has to be rushed to the hospital. The doctors tell him he needs rests, so he moves to a house in the countryside with his wife Li (Yang Zhifei). The house is entertainingly furnished; it belongs to an unnamed artist pal of Fred's, and is filled with gnarly, borderline creepy sculptures and more white curtains than is humanly necessary. Despite the disturbing nature of their new dwelling, the couple apparently thinks this is the perfect place for Fred to recuperate.
     They're very mistaken. Right away, odd stuff starts to happen. A little girl (Zhou Ziyue) with a distracting red scarf starts appearing on their lawn in the middle of the night, not to mention zipping past the house's windows, usually disturbing Fred and frightening his wife.
Some of the sculptures, including some creepy looking mannequins, start appearing in odd places, and strange shadows always seem to be moving behind the omnipresent white curtains. To make matters worse, their neighbor Ping (Michelle Ye) suddenly appears in their house, acting unbalanced and generally out-to-lunch. Soon, her husband Fung (Eddie Cheung) shows up to act surly and warn his new neighbors that something bad will happen to them if they don't move out soon. Will Fred and Li take the advice, or will they fall prey to whatever spirits are haunting the place?
     Big surprise: they won't, because there aren't any spirits in this film at all. A better title for The Closet would probably be My Neighbors are Insane, because that's really what goes on in the film. The above sentence would probably qualify as a spoiler if the filmmakers were attempting some sort of cleverness through their rampant use of horror film technique. However, I seriously doubt that they were. The Closet has plenty of visual evidence that makes the film seem like a standard Asian horror film. There's a red-garbed, long-haired little girl who shows up from time to time with creepy backlighting and ominous music cues aiding her appearances. Characters skulk around like they're possessed, and appear and disappear in obvious horror movie-like fashion. If someone in the audience was convinced that The Closet is a ghost film, then they should be congratulated for their incredible grasp of the obvious.
     However, all the horror film imagery is pointless and inexplicable. Director Cho Kin-Nam seems to be employing all his horror film clichés simply to get a rise out of his audience, and never overtly indicates that something supernatural is afoot. Even more, the film possesses absolutely zero mystery. Basically, Fred Lo's neighbors are completely disturbed, and the more that's discovered about their psychoses the less it all seems to matter. There's some psychological subtext involving Fred Lo's father complex, and Fung has some work trouble that makes him very stressed out, but the purpose of all these details is unfathomable. Is The Closet some sort of statement on stressed out Hong Kong people, and how they bring their pressure home and torture their neighbors with it? If so, then Cho Kin-Nam never got that message across either. Just what was the purpose of making this film?
     Presumably the idea was entertainment, but The Closet fails handily in that regard, delivering a psychological thriller where nothing really seems to happen besides a few characters acting bipolar. This occurs despite some decent acting from Michelle Ye and Francis Ng, though Ng's performance feels out of place. The Closet ranks among Ng's warmer performances, as he gives Fred Lo a playful humanity that proves endearing. However, he also seems a bit too cuddly, such that the character's potential imbalances never seem dangerous. Had the character of Fred Lo seemed dangerous, it could have added some potential suspense to the narrative. However, that quibble is just one item on a laundry list of possible fixes, and rattling off every little suggestion would probably be incredibly time-consuming, plus it avoids the root of the problem, that the film is simply ill-conceived. To attack that problem head on, here's one thing the filmmakers can do: make better movies. (Kozo 2007)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Deltamac
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable Chinese and English Subtitles

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