by Del Harvey
This DVD is available for purchase at HKFlix.com.
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Hong Kong cop Chan Kwok-Ming (Francis Ng) and his wife Yee (Athena Chu) are on the brink of divorce. While stuck in rush hour traffic, Chan goes into action to stop an ongoing robbery. In the ensuing shoot-out, Yee is hit and ends up in a coma, only to awaken 3 weeks later with recurring visions of murders by a serial killer whom her husband is tracking.
Unfortunately, Shiver is as contrived as they come. Not satisfied to attempt making a decent horror film, director Billy Chung makes the inept mistake of adding a murder mystery to the mix. The result is a stilted and pretentious piece of brown material that is laughable for its storyline as much as the inefficient subtitling.
The really confusing thing is, director Billy Chung is experienced in the horror genre. His previous works include Esprit D’Amour and Possessed, which may not be commercial hits, but are nevertheless considered by many as fine cult efforts. This weak effort seems to have been manifested by a nightmare of dullest proportions. When Sam-yee (Athena Chu) is recovered from a head injury, she begins to “see” frightening visions related to a serial murder case which her hubby is working on. Hubby, however, ignores her explanations as hallucinations, falling back on his standard excuse, “I’m busy.” He’s a workaholic whose dedication eventually leads to series of tragedies.
Francis Ng (Big Bullet, 2000 A.D., Bullets Over Summer) has done much better work. Here he seems bored and really not even interested in being a part of the film. Seeing an actor of his ability rely on one-dimensional characterization tells a lot about the filmmaker’s choices. Though the script is weak and falls back on a hackneyed ending, a good director will most often utilize the talents of quality actors to elevate a story. Chung fails to do so here.
In some ways the small horror offered here is merely a slightly altered ripoff from the recent and far superior The Eye. And, since there are few characters in this film, the identity of the murderer is not too hard to guess. Viewers with moderate intelligence should be able to predict the plot after the first twenty minutes of the film. Even though Athena Chu as the vision-seeing wife does her best, she cannot save this film.
My advice is, if you see Shiver on the local video shelf, ignore it. Run from it, if you have to. But, whatever you do, don’t rent it. You’ll be sorry…
Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly, a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.
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