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3 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Inner Senses
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Brian McKay

"I see dead people . . . or do I?"
4 stars

Although I was intrigued by the premise of the Hong Kong horror flick INNER SENSES, I was more than a little worried, too. It sounded rather derivative of another Hong Kong horror film, THE EYE (Which, while well-made, was in turn fairly derivative of THE SIXTH SENSE and RINGU). However, I won this throw of the "film festival picks" dice, because INNER SENSES was a refreshingly different take on the whole "I see dead people" chestnut.

Yan (Kar Yan Lam) is a pretty but withdrawn young woman with a troubled past. She hasn't done all that well with past boyfriends, has cut up her wrists a few times, and to top it all off . . . yup, you guessed it, she sees dead people. And she keeps on seeing them even after moving into a new apartment, which used to be inhabited by the landlord downstairs. But while most people would have run screaming from the place, she simply screams at the ghosts to be quiet and tries to get on with the business of living. But when she begins to receive visitations from the dead wife and son of her landlord, she takes the advice of her cousin, and goes to visit a specialist.

Jim (Leslie Cheung), her new psychiatrist, isn't exactly a poster boy for mental health either. Though skilled and knowledgeable in his field, he works obsessively hard, takes a medicine cabinet full of pills, and also suffers from the same insomnia that plagues Yan. Feeling sympathetic towards her (and perhaps more than a little attracted), he agrees to help her.

But as his attempts at therapy start getting results, and Yan actually begins to show improvement, he begins his own mental downward slide. First the insomnia becomes somnambulism, and then he begins having his own visions of a mysterious dead girl. Is Yan's "gift" beginning to rub off on him? Perhaps, since the more she improves, the worse he gets. Once she stops attending therapy, and they begin dating, Yan notices his increasingly strange behavior but feels powerless to help him, until she enlists the aid of her cousin's husband, who is Jim's fellow therapist and best friend.

Despite a few scenes in the third act that are melodramatic almost to the point of being maudlin, Lam and Cheung each give gripping performances (the scene where Yan confronts the parents who practically abandoned her as a teen is particularly strong). The film also uses flashbacks sparingly but effectively, and nicely juxtaposes Yan's newfound happiness with Jim's increasing dementia. The scary scenes (or as we erudite film critics sometimes like to call them, the "money shots") are also used to good effect, although perhaps overused just a bit near the film's climax. However, the earlier visitations Yan receives are the creepiest thing I've seen since that girl climbed out of the TV in Ringu

Inner Senses works just as deeply on a psychological level as it does on an emotional or supernatural one. And, as with the best horror stories, whether the ghostly visitors are real manifestations or merely the externalizations of a traumatized psyche are left entirely up to the interpretation of you, the humble viewer.

There is one other thing that INNER SENSES is noteworthy for - it is the last film that venerated Hong Kong actor Leslie Cheung made before his suicide. And in a very eerie way, certain events in the film are very reminiscent of the circumstances surrounding that suicide. Sadly, sometimes life does imitate art.

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originally posted: 03/25/04 12:12:38
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 San Francisco Horror Film Festival. For more in the 2004 San Francisco Horror Festival series, click here.

User Comments

6/14/05 K. Sear A little saccharine at the end but still a well done film. 4 stars
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  DVD: 21-Oct-2003



Directed by
  Chi-Leung Law

Written by
  Chi-Leung Law

  Leslie Cheung
  Kar Yan Lam
  Waise Lee
  Valerie Chow
  Norman Chu

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