Thursday, June 29, 2006



Be careful what you wish for, because sometimes, they just might come true, whether you like it to or not. A writer's inspiration can also be adapted from real life events, with a dash of dramatic license added to spice things up for the reader. And an environmental message which is worked quite effortlessly into the narrative, makes one wonder in awe too.

Re-Cycle is the latest horror thriller from the acclaimed Pang Brothers, whose Bangkok Dangerous I had enjoyed tremendously. Perhaps an Asian answer to Hollywood's Wachowski Brothers with their flair for interesting visuals and stories which thread on many levels, Oxide and Danny Pang's latest movie stars Angelica Lee (or Lee Sin-Je if you prefer), already having her fair share of spook fests in her filmography.

Ting Yin (Lee) is a successful writer whose love stories are literary blockbusters. Infusing elements of her life into her stories, she gets troubled as she attempts to break genre and work on horror instead. And it is this introductory act that things really go bump in the dark, incorporating the Asian dark mood and eerie atmosphere which have become staples of horror movies this part of the world. Familiar scenes like long hair (The Wig?), water (Ju-On?), and dark frightening shadows make their necessary appearance, coupled with extremely loud music and screams and the right moments, I admit my heart skipped.

But Re-Cycle took a different path thereafter. Gone are the horrific elements used to shock. and in comes a whole lot of atmosphere and computer generated graphics, designed to awe. The centre piece of a slum-like deserted street and dilapidated buildings, with its silently deserted streets, and then plenty of zombies, reminded me of yet another moody horror movie Silent Hill, with its fair share of graphics enhancement. Initially I thought that from the trailer, it looked like a carbon copy of Constantine's Hell sequence, but I was wrong, and I'm still amazed by Thailand's advancement in post production and computer wizardry competency - simply awesome.

Stunning effects aside, the story progressed more into the thriller and mystery realms, tracking Ting Yin's desperation to escape from this unreal world, back to her own. It's like Alice in Wonderland, except that this is no childlike fantasy world with danger lurking at every corner. For those who have enjoyed Neil Gaiman's Mirrormask, this movie's story threads along the same lines in having the protagonist seeking an escape, while going from scene to scene, and place to place, encountering weird surreal locations, and different, out of this world characters. For those who disliked or found the narrative style of Mirrormask wanting, you might feel the same about Re-Cycle too.

However, there is a strong, rational theme unifying these seeming disparate scenes and events. They're not just pretty for the sake of being pretty to look at, but ring home the obvious message on abandonment, through the plot device of re-cycling. Many strange scenes are crafted from this message, while at the same time, bringing a sense of familiarity for an audience to identify with. Therein lies the strength of this movie.

Angelica Lee had plenty of room to showcase her acting skills - being frightened to her wits end, sharing emotional scenes, smelling of desperation or be it in a state of bewilderment, she carries the movie forward aptly, despite slower moments during certain sequences.

My initial thoughts about the movie were not flattering, choosing to harp on the nicely done, yet familiar special effects, and scenes which were somewhat familiar in some other movies. But having pondered a little more into the storyline, I thought it was quite neat, and if not for the spooky introduction, I might just want to watch this movie again.

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