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  Re-cycle lost in a maze of the mind
Year: 2006
Director: Danny Pang, Oxide Pang Chun
Stars: Angelica Lee, Qiqi Zeng, Lawrence Chou, Siu-Ming Lau, Rain Li, Jetrin Wattanasin
Genre: Horror, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: While Hollywood’s horror hacks obsessively remake the gore movies of the 1970s, Hong Kong cine-siblings Danny Pang and Oxide Pang have been turning the genre inside out. Re-cycle reunites the Pangs with leading lady Angelica Lee, star of their breakthrough hit: The Eye (2002).

Ting-yin (Angelica Lee) is a successful novelist whose public persona masks a troubled past. Following an awkward press conference and an uncomfortable reunion with her ex-boyfriend, she begins work on her new horror novel and is suddenly plagued by terrifying supernatural visions. The Pangs tease us with glimpses of a long-haired ghost stalking Ting-yin’s apartment - suggesting this is going to be yet another, tiresome Ring (1998) knockoff. But the film soars majestically onto another level, as Ting-yin follows the ghost into a bizarre parallel world, far beyond our reality. She journeys across a breathtaking CG wonderland, confronting lost souls, giant killer toys, a cave haunted by aborted foetuses, and hordes of screaming, snake-necked zombies.

This is a rare horror movie that makes successful use of computer graphics, conjuring an eerie, oppressive atmosphere. It is a world haunted by things long forgotten: faded memories, senile ghosts, jaded ideals, discarded toys. Those decayed buildings Ting-yin wanders past struck a chord with Hong Kong audiences, because they are recreations of once-famous landmarks demolished to make way for the economic miracle. As Ting-yin befriends Ting-yu (Qiqi Zeng), a plucky, little ghost girl, whose familiarity holds the key to unlocking a dark secret, the Pangs draw ingenious parallels between their heroine’s suppressed anxieties and Hong Kong’s forgotten past. Their ambitious subtext is given added weight thanks to yet another brittle, sensitive performance from the gifted Angelica Lee, and her remarkable rapport with child actress Qiqi Zeng.

By Re-cycle’s haunting conclusion, both ambiguous and uplifting, we realise the title - and Ting-yin’s journey - reflect an artist’s ability to rework personal trauma into compelling art. The closing shock offers a reminder that, no matter where our imaginations take us, we can never escape our selves. Re-cycle leaves us feeling we’ve journeyed somewhere very special. A remarkable achievement for a horror movie.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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