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Chinese language cinema

Film review: Daughter – Yanny Chan possessed by a demon in Hong Kong chiller

Exorcism drama marks a return to form for the horror genre in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 2:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 November, 2015, 2:18pm

Hong Kong horror ends a dry spell with Daughter, a decent exorcism drama that, ironically, looks certain to become a box-office flop. More tense and unnerving than any local ghost movie in recent memory, this respectable genre outing by first-time director Chan Pang-chun – who co-scripted the story with producer Shirley Yung Sau-lan (Angel Whispers) – probably deserves to find its audience.

 

Sharon (Kara Wai Ying-hung) is a noted psychiatrist whose material ambition has turned her into a neglectful mother. But once her daughter Jenny (Yanny Chan Wing-yan) develops seriously nutty behaviour – and ghostly sightings begin to plague their spacious mansion – Sharon loses her grips on reality, eventually turning to a Catholic priest/exorcist (Kenny Wong Tak-bun) for help.

SEE ALSO: Film review: Angel Whispers - locked-room mystery falls flat

Allegedly shot in a Bangkok haunted house where a family of five lost their lives, the film has benefitted significantly from the compelling performances of its two leads. While Wai distantly channels her distressed single-mum character in 2009’s At the End of Daybreak, newcomer Chan – of the five-piece girl group Super Girls – proves a minor revelation in the role of the possessed daughter.

As the atheist Sharon sinks deeper into her spiritual crisis, and her daughter fluctuates between the cute and the utterly creepy, this atmospheric movie effectively pictures the vicious consequences of parental abandonment, while leaving little prospect of respite for its increasingly despairing characters. Daughter is a derivative but effective tale of terror, and it doesn’t let up.

Daughter opens on November 19