Hong Kong, 2010, colour, 1.85:1, 88 mins.
Director: Luo Shouyao 罗守耀 [Dennis Law].
Haunted-foetus horror movie has some squirmy moments but is shackled by a confused script.
Hong Kong, the present day. Shen Lvping (Lv Huiyi), a hostess at a club run by Madame Joyce (Shao Meiqi), finds she’s three months’ pregnant but miscarries after visiting a hospital doctor. Guo Shaofang (Zhou Xiuna), a nurse at the same hospital, is having an affaire with Shen Lvping’s husband, Li Yixiang (Li Nuoyi), a doctor, and has been having increasingly horrific visions involving a young girl ghost. Guo Shaofang’s father, Guo Le (Lin Xue), runs a sorcery business from his home in the New Territories, where he uses placenta stolen by Guo Shaofang from her hospital to “feed” a young boy ghost, Fei (Wang Zhengkuan), whom he uses to haunt people and thus engender business. His latest client is Singaporean Fangling (Lu Songzhi), who also works at Madame Joyce’s with her friend Fiona (Zhou Shuhui).
Property developer-cum-filmmaker Luo Shouyao 罗守耀 [Dennis Law] – who worked with both Du Qifeng 杜琪峰 [Johnnie To], whose Milkyway Image he bought into in 2003, and Qiu Litao 邱礼涛 [Herman Yau] – has come a long way in seven features from his directing debut with the charmingly fluffy The Unusual Youth 非常青春期 (2005) to horror exploitationers like this one. The good news is that Womb Ghosts 恶胎 tries to reincarnate the spirit of Category III movies from the late 1980s/early 1990s; the bad news is that Luo can’t achieve the sheer over-the-top trashiness that Qiu can be so good at and doesn’t have the atmospheric skills that a younger genre director like Zheng Baorui 郑保瑞 [Soi Cheang] showed in his early movies like Horror Hotline…Big Head Monster 恐怖热线之大头怪婴 (2001).
Production values – especially photography by Feng Yuanwen 冯远文 [Edmond Fung] – are smooth, and the effects are OK, with a few genuine shocks; but Luo’s script is jerkily developed, with little idea how to handle its many characters. Part of the confusion is explained by the script’s central time-trick and giant red herring, but in the end the movie is mostly a series of horror incidents, with no overall dramatic arc to really hook the audience.
Presented by Point Of View Movie Production (HK). Produced by Point of View Movie Production (HK).
Script: Luo Shouyao [Dennis Law]. Photography: Feng Yuanwen [Edmond Fung]. Editing: Qiu Zhiwei [Yau Chi-wai]. Music: Wei Qiliang [Tommy Wai]. Art direction: Mo Shaozong [Alex Mok]. Costume design: Ye Shuhua [Sukie Yip]. Sound: Tan Derong, Wang Qingsheng. Action: Huang Weiliang [Jack Wong]. Visual effects: Lin Hongfeng, Li Wenjun (Free-D Workshop).
Cast: Zhou Xiuna (Guo Shaofang/Zoe), Lv Huiyi (Shen Lvping/Winnie), Lin Xue [Lam Suet] (Guo Le), Li Nuoyi (Li Yixiang/Joseph), Shao Meiqi [Maggie Shiu] (Madame Joyce), Gu Zulin [Jo Kuk] (He Zhiting/Miss T), Deng Shangwen (Jay), Lu Songzhi (Fangling/Joey/Jena), Pei Yin (Nancy), Chen Yuxi (Meizhi/Mildred), Wang Zhengkuan (Fei), Xie Yuxin, Kanoochi Hana, Lin Tingxin, Su Junjie (womb ghosts), Zhou Shuhui (Fiona), Liang Bo’en (Simon, doctor), Ou Xuanwei (Tim Wong), He Guonan (Cai, restaurant owner), Li Zhiwei (Boby), Chen Hong (Wen), Zeng Yujuan (Lin), Wu Kaiying, Tan Zixin (nurses), Xu Minghui (doctor), Ye Yunqiang (anaesthetist), Liu Yuying, Zhao Zhihui, Xue Weiru, Liang Daqiang (nurses), Wang Wenjun, Guo Yuqiang, Huang Guohua, Dai Yaohui (policemen), Li Weicheng (security guard).
Release: Hong Kong, 18 Mar 2010.
(Review originally published on Film Business Asia, 12 Aug 2010.)