Rigor Mortis is a very special film that’s hard to describe. It’s the directorial debut of Juno Mak, who decided to revisit the Mr. Vampire universe in a new and twisted way. Not a sequel or even a remake, Rigor Mortis is more of a complete re-imagining/homage of the original franchise. However, several actors that were prominent in that golden era of films make a comeback on the big screen. Anthony Chan, Siu-Ho Chin, and Richard Ng share the screen together in a terrifying and bold story. Is it possible for the dead to rise again, or was this just a desperate man’s daydream for another shot at glory?
While it may not appear so at first, Rigor Mortis is a very layered tale that requires a lot of thinking. I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t know what I was getting into. However, I found myself pulled into the terrifying tale immediately. The plot is a simple one at first glance, and it isn’t until the credits roll that you begin to digest everything that was given to you. Some people will feel betrayed and confused (I know I did) but those emotions will subside and what will remain is a solid story that stays with you long after you’re done watching it.
One of my favorite aspects of this movie is the development of the characters. Everyone you meet has a reason for being there. Nobody feels plugged in or just shoved in for the sake of another face. I loved learning about everyone and diving deeper into their psyche. The most interesting for me was Siu-Ho Chin, who played an alternate version of himself. He shows an amazing level of depth and range as his character goes from the darkest of places to somewhere where he senses redemption. I don’t want to go into the details, but there are some aspects that I wish were explained better. Personally, I think part of the enjoyment comes from discussing the film with friend and others to determine what really went on between these crazy and interesting characters.
It’s probably a stretch to call this an action film, but there are certainly some fights in it. While they are used sparingly, what you do see is an amazing visual feat with great choreography mixed in. From the realistic hits to the grotesque wounds, you never know what you’ll see next. The blend of supernatural and realistic blur with beautiful results, and I never once doubted what I saw unfolding in front of me. Fans of the original Mr. Vampire might be disappointed by the lack of action that takes place, but everyone else will love the battles that occur and feel like everything flowed very well.
Own it, Watch it, Try it, or Skip it?
Rigor Mortis is a film that pays homage to classic vampire films while putting a very dark twist on them. There are plenty of disturbing and sickening moments in the film to please horror fans, yet nothing ever feels like it was added just to scare the viewer. It’s a smartly-written film that takes some time (and maybe research) to fully digest. When all is said and done, Rigor Mortis is an expertly crafted film that horror fans and martial arts fans can appreciate. Definitely worth a watch.