The film began with Auntie Mui (Nina Paw Hee-Ching/鲍起静) lying in a pool of blood and the camera pans to the injured Yau (Anthony Chan/陈友) leaning against a crumbling wall.
Nearby, the dying Chin (钱小豪) flips to his back weakly, stares into the sky and his flashback begins.
Chin - the protagonist of the movie - plays himself, a has-been movie actor moving into a very old apartment apparently to end his life.
With a rope round his neck, he listens to the voice mails left by his beloved son and reminisce about life with his wife and son during happier times.
There is no mention of what happened to his family but in his flashback, they were seen walking away from him with their eyes turning white which I interpret as they are dead?
He finally kicked away the stool he was standing on.
Grasping for air, supernatural forces in the house manifests itself to take over his life but Chin was saved in the nick of time by Yau, the descendant of a vampire hunter turned food stall owner.
After his failed suicide attempt, Chin met some other people who lived in the building: Auntie Mui, a helpful seamstress; Fung (Kara Wai Ying-Hung/惠英红), a mysterious woman who eats offerings for the dead that is left outside people's front doors; and her son Siu Pak, a white-haired boy who roams the corridor.
When Auntie Mui's husband, Uncle Tung (Richard Ng Yiu-Hon/吴耀汉) dies in a seemingly freak accident, she seeks the help of Uncle Gau (Chung Fat/鍾发), a scheming priest, to bring her companion back to life.
Unfortunately, Uncle Gau has other plans on his mind. Things started to go awry and calamity awaits those who lived there...
Rigor Mortis (Latin: rigor "stiffness", mortis "of death") is a somewhat sombre and dark movie that could be hard to swallow. There are certain parts which left me hanging without answers as it does not make any sense logically.
In the scene when Chin first arrives at the estate, he enters a lift which looked strangely like a service lift. How would an aged public housing in Hong Kong have such a spacious lift?
Meanwhile in another scene, when the vampire pushes Fung through the wall, why did she end up at the basement on the top of an escalator? Same reasoning as the previous point, what is an escalator doing at the basement of a residential building?
To add on, when the vampire kills Uncle Gau, there is blood everywhere on the walls, window, furniture and floor. How could there be so much blood from a single victim?
In fact, if you were expecting some serious blood sucking action from the vampire, you would be disappointed. There is no scene of the vampire sinking its fangs into anyone's neck and sucking the life out of them.
The vampire seem more interested in tearing its victims apart and smashing them into walls instead of drinking their blood.
And... this vampire does not hop or jump with its arms outstretched in front of him like normal chinese vampires do; it glides its way around.
This vampire is so un-vampirish he reminded me of Lord Voldemort more than anything else.
As if that is not mind boggling enough, the ending scene confuses me even more.
In the last scene, we are brought back to the very first scene where Yau and Chin lay injured on the ground after defeating the vampire.
As she collapsed, we were brought back in a flashback through Chin's eyes to the first day when he moved into his apartment:
The caretaker, Uncle Yin (Lo Hoi-Pang/卢海鹏) was napping in his office; Fung and Siu Pak were in the lift with Chin except Fung who was deranged isn't deranged anymore and is on her way home to cook Pork Chops for her son.
As he make his way towards his apartment, he passed by Auntie Mui's house who appeared to be a widow (Uncle Tung's black and white photo was on the altar).
The next scene shows the already lifeless Chin hanging from the ceiling fan in his apartment with Yau rushing in and calling the neighbors for help. The scene is then moved to the morgue where a tag with Chin's name is attached to a corpse' toe.
The mortician in the morgue turns out to be Uncle Gau (he is now called Dr Choy) and someone claiming to be Chin's son turned up to identify his body...
*Pat Pat* I feel you, bro...
Are you as lost as I am?
I can only come up with two possible scenarios:
When Chin first hang himself at the beginning of the movie, he did not survive at all. The subsequent happenings were all conjured in his subconscious mind before he stopped breathing.
Chin was indeed saved by Yau and the subsequent story did happen. The ending flashback is perhaps what he is hoping to be the real ending - that everyone is well and alive... and his biggest wish of reuniting with his son.
With the director of Ju-On co-directing this film, I can't tell for sure if it is a good or bad move. Audiences came to watch a chinese vampire movie expecting to see chinese vampires and perhaps a chinese ghost or two however, what I see is a chinese vampire that does not behave like one while ghosts have a Japanese element to it (eg. crawling on walls in slow motion, etc).
Anyway, the unit number of Chin's apartment is 2442. Sounds pretty much like "Easy to die, Dying is easy" in Cantonese.
Although the storyline is quite complex, I still have to give due credits to the cinematography and CGI effects.
Also, I am delighted to see some veteran Hong Kong actors/actresses making a comeback in this film especially Chin Siu Hou, Chan Yau, Chung Fatt and Lau Nam Kwong (樓南光) who were in the earlier 1980s Mr Vampire series.
If you had paid due attention, you would have noticed the photo of Lam Ching Ying (林正英) and Ricky Hui (许冠英) making a brief appearance among Chin's belongings.
*This movie pays homage to the chinese vampire genre movies from the early 1980s and was dedicated to Lam Ching Ying and Ricky Hui in the end credits.
I, in particularly liked the opening song which actually appears in the very first Mr. Vampire movie (1985) when the ghost bride played by Wong Siu Fung (王小凤) fell in love with Chin Siu Hou's (钱小豪) character "秋生".
fb page: the dead cockroach