Image Entertainment // 2008 // 109 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 26th, 2008
"You created us and then discarded us!"
The Pang brothers, directors of The Eye, up the ante with a startling horror movie.
A successful writer named Chu Xun (Lee Sinje) is working on her next blockbuster novel. It's called "Recycle" and has to do with the supernatural. As soon as she starts writing it, she's besieged by disturbing visions and mysterious happenings. Can it be that as she writes, a door to another dimension is opening? Yes it can. It is exactly like that.
But that's not the only craziness that will befall our hapless heroine. She'll eventually get sucked into that alternate dimension, a place where her abandoned ideas dwell, along with some creepy looking dead people with long necks. Can she make it out before the "recycling" (a.k.a. The Nothing) takes her away forever?
This is a c-r-r-r-r-r-razy one. Crazy like that guy from the '80s selling discount console television sets. The Pang brothers have reached deep into their tricked-out psyches to pull out some of the most creative imagery you will ever see in a horror movie -- or any movie for that matter.
Whether you think Re-cycle succeeds or fails as a horror film -- I think it succeeds -- you're going to have to give the Pangs due credit for crafting an unparalleled visual experience.
Things start out in typical J-horror (or C-horror, as this was Hong Kong-produced) fashion: a woman hanging out in an apartment is suddenly freaked out by weird noises and shocking visions of ghost women. Eerie music, drawn out scenes punctuated by jump scares and creepy little girls. Then, about 30 or so minutes into the runtime, the film changes drastically. Chu enters a fantasy world and begins on a journey to get out before she evaporates into the ether. The Pangs have populated this world with a variety of memorable creations and set them against some intensely creative backgrounds.
Hey, let's run down the Weird Sh*t Roster!
Weird Sh*t That Goes Down in Re-cycle
* A fleshy cavern of screaming fetuses!
* A small girl with a ghoulish mask riding a giant wooden horse!
* A woman with no face that floats and points her finger in an eerie manner!
* A walkway over a bottomless abyss populated by dead guys with faces like the underside of an overcooked hamburger!
* A cemetery full of zombies that can be bought off with some "Hell money"!
* A group of guys with long giraffe necks that can open their jaws, like, two feet!
• And much more!
As much eye-candy there is to enjoy, visuals alone wouldn't make the film a success. Re-cycle works because of the tension the Pang boys have generated. Why is Chu in this world? Who are the other creators the old man alludes to? And who's the little girl? These questions follow Chu through her adventure and the answers are delivered as massive, satisfying plot twists. And, without giving away too much, prepare yourself for a shocking statement on the social issue of our time.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen looks good, despite some grain here and there. This is a very dark film but the detailing is strong and the Pangs' visual flair is transmitted well. A 5.1 Cantonese digital mix doesn't too much except when The Nothing shows up and the wind blows through your living room. Extras are numerous: a making-of featurette, interviews with cast, deleted scenes, CGI comparison shots, footage from the film's premiere, deleted scenes and the trailer.
It's not just a stunning treat for your eyeballs -- Re-cycle packs a narrative wallop too.
Not guilty. Run Atreyu, run!
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Cantonese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Cantonese)
Running Time: 109 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Making-of Featurette
* Deleted Scenes
* CGI Comparisons
* Premiere Footage
* Deleted Scenes