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Silk (2006)

DVD Cover (Tartan Video)
Director:
Chao-Bin Su Chao-Bin Su
Starring:
Chen Chang Chen Chang
Yôsuke Eguchi Yôsuke Eguchi
Kar Yan Lam Kar Yan Lam
Barbie Hsu Barbie Hsu
Bo-lin Chen Bo-lin Chen

6.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Haunted House Film, Horror, Sci-Fi Horror, Science Fiction, Supernatural Horror
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Review by Chad
Added: June 27, 2007
How do you make Asian ghost stories entertaining again? It's certainly no easy task, especially considering the very foundation of these stories - that being the ghosts themselves, naturally - have more than worn out their welcome over the last couple of years thanks to the endless flood of long-haired women and spooky children. There's been some gems to be found amidst this flood, but the vast majority of these clones have left me with the "been there, seen that" feeling when the credits started to roll. So, again I ask: how do you make the genre entertaining again? Well, if your name happens to be Chao-Bin Su, you take the basics and inject a little bit of sci-fi, a small dash of action, and a whole lot of scientific ideas and theories which probably wouldn't hold water in the real world but sound perfectly plausible in the film.

The storyline for this outing is surprisingly straightforward for an Asian horror film, but at the same time, there's a lot of depth to it as well. I'm going to run down the basics of it in this review, but those of you considering this film should keep in mind that there's a lot more to it than what I'm going to let on. Got it? Great, on with the synopsis.

Hashimoto (Yosuke Eguchi) is our leading man for the film, and he just so happens to be a scientist who has created what may turn out to be one of the single most important inventions of our time: an anti-gravity device known as the Menger Sponge, which is basically a collection of energy particles loosely formed into a solid shape not unlike a certain infamous box. This box and the particles forming it also have an added functionality that probably wasn't anticipated upon its creation: it interacts extremely well with the supernatural world. In liquid form, one can spray this into their eyes and see ghosts, while coating a room in it will trap the spirit within. Hashimoto and his scientist friends eventually shift gears in their research, and it doesn't take long before they have themselves a genuine ghost locked up in a tiny room for research purposes.

This eventually leads Hashimoto to Tung (Chen Chang), a man with an uncanny eye for detail who has been hired to track down the origins of this ghost, find out what happened to him in his past life, and most importantly, find out where his body is buried. What Tung discovers is surprising to say the least, and the eventual ramifications for screwing with the supernatural world are even more shocking.

In a way, it could be argued that this is nothing more than the same old tripe served up with a pretty bow to distract us from the obvious similarities to hundreds of other films. While this is true to a certain extent - after all, we're dealing with a ghostly kid and leading men who must figure out how he came to be that way and how to stop him - it's the execution of things that made this film work out so well in my eyes. For starters, I was reminded of The Matrix a lot as the storyline progressed. Now, the storyline is completely different here, as there's no virtual universe, we're not comatose and imagining everything, and there are no alien beings pulling the strings. However, the information is presented in such a way so as to sound completely plausible; while watching this film and listening to the scientists explain everything, you'll realize that it more than likely has no basis in reality, but when you listen to the ideas discussed within the running time, it sounds completely logical. It takes a damned fine writer to successfully achieve that, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was pulled off to perfection here.

Even with that aside, I still enjoyed the film as I found that it told a damned good ghost story in the traditional sense of the genre, but at the same time, there were more than enough surprises to keep it interesting. I particularly enjoyed how the writers decided to incorporate various Asian clichés into the storyline, but then turned around and did something that (as far as I know) no other film has done before: explain exactly how said cliché worked. For example, we all saw that teenage girl get scared to death in the opening scene of The Ring, but how did the ghost do that? Granted, it'd be a bit disturbing to see a grotesque ghost pop up in your room, but that isn't exactly the sort of thing that would literally scare you to death... so what happened? This and many more clichés are touched on throughout the film, and I'll more than likely always reference this film in my head when seeing these ideas presented elsewhere.

So, do I recommend the film? I think it goes without saying to all but those who skip down here to the final paragraph, but definitely. This is a great way to get introduced to honest-to-goodness Asian horror for those who haven't done so already, and even those who have long since gotten burnt out on the genre will enjoy the hell out of it. 9/10.
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