BINDING SOULS (2019) short review

p2568663031After the middling exorcism film Daughter, director Chan Pang Chun returns to the horror genre and reunites with Kara Hui with Binding Souls, a mind-bogglingly laughable and cheap exercise in regurgitating the lamest, most overused horror tropes. Get a load of this plot: a group of college students (there’s the horny one, the bookish one, the sexy one, the scaredy one…) decide to spend a few days in an abandoned school that was once used by the Japanese army as a place to torture, rape and conduct experiments on Chinese prisoners. While the school has been closed for almost a decade, its old principal (Yuen Cheung Yan) still hangs around, as does a troubled janitor (Kara Hui), whose daughter disappeared years ago at the school, and who keeps hoping she’ll turn up. The youngsters plan to have some fun, but soon they’re plagued with visions of hostile ghosts. Over the course of the film’s skimpy yet overlong 88 minutes, there’s simply not a single fresh idea and not the least bit of suspense. The ghosts are standard-issue white-clad, black-hair-over-the-face, standing-at-the-back-of-a-corridor clichés. Ridiculousness – without any self-awareness of course – is omnipresent, from 33 years-old Carlos Chan cringingly playing a college student (one of the worst performances in a theatrically-released film this year, no doubt), to some very, very sad CGI. There’s no sense of atmosphere and the final twists arrive very late after any awake audience member saw them coming; only the first scene, a very nasty scene of wartime Japanese horror, raises the pulse somewhat, but it’s an ugly an exploitative sight. Kara Hui pops up from time to time, a sight for sore eyes made heavy by the blissful temptation of sleep. no stars

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