Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In short: The Occupant (1984)

aka The Tenant

Canadian Chinese grad student Angie (Sally Yeh) comes to Hong Kong to study Chinese superstitions. Her budget for her trip isn't much to speak of, and so she's quite happy that she's able to get a ridiculously cheap furnished apartment instead of an overpriced hotel room.

There's a good reason for her new place's low prize, though - it is haunted. What begins harmless enough with a little table moving and ghostly singing rises to threats of ghostly possession. The ghost of singer Lisa Law (Mak Git-Man) seems obsessed with repeating the murder suicide that cost her life through Angie.

Fortunately two creepy stalker guys - the cop Valentino (Chow Yun-Fat) and the "funny" used car dealer Hansome Wong (Raymond Wong) - have fallen in love with Angie and are willing to help her out with her problem. Valentino even has an ex-cop friend (Lo Lieh) turned priest who can do a little exorcising.

The Occupant is an early work in the long and complicated career of director Ronny Yu. It's more a comedy than a horror film, but it doesn't succeed all that well as either horror or comedy.

The comedy bits are less inane and slapsticky than typical for Hong Kong comedies, so they should be easier to stomach for someone with as little tolerance for these things as I have, but what is on screen often just isn't all that funny. I mean, making fun of Raymond Wong's character can only get us that far.

The horror part of the film on the other hand isn't very exciting either. The usual child-friendly ghosting is present, but fails to excite or interest much.

Still, watching it isn't all that painful an experience. There's nothing really bad about the film, the problem is that there isn't anything really good about it either, leading to a film that's just somehow there to while away 90 minutes without making much of an impression.


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