MIDNIGHT BEATING (2010) short review

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The marketing for Zhang Jiabei’s Midnight Beating called it the first real horror film made in Mainland China, no small feat in itself considering Chinese censorship’s ‘no ghosts, no gore’ directives. The film ultimately plays by these rules, but the fact that it’s so un-scary and indeed, boring, cannot be solely attributed to content restrictions. It is quite simply direly written and limply directed, its story – about a hospital that is haunted by a murdering ghost, and whose grieving doctor (Simon Yam) and philandering psychologist (Francis Ng) hold pivotal secrets – unfolding with little to no urgency or atmosphere. Simon Yam’s poignant performance and Yasuda Fumio’s classy score stick out in a swamp of TV-grade production values, tired jump scares, deadening exposition and shrill emotional displays, not to mention Francis Ng’s bored face and a staggeringly stupid scene involving a website that allows visitors to watch their own memories of departed loved ones as videos. *

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