Friday, September 12, 2008

SILK (Chao-Bin Su, 2006, Taiwan) Silk examines the preternatural, the scientific quest for knowledge over superstition, as the brilliant scientist Hashimoto captures energy in the Menger sponge, if only in minute quantities. This energy can create anti-gravity…or capture the ether of a lost spirit: such as a dead little boy who haunts an abandoned building. Silk accelerates disparate elements of horror, science fiction, action, and family melodrama and collides these genre nuclei together thus releasing a burst of emotional, intellectual, and downright creepy energy. Hashimoto recruits Tung, a police sniper who can lip-read, for his research team who has captured this seemingly unfriendly ghost. They must spray their eyes with microscopic Menger mist so they can see the spirit and coat the room: the energy inhibits the ghost from interacting with the physical environment and traps it in the room. But the team is in a race against time because Hashimoto must discover the source of the spirit’s energy while his cruel boss wants to cancel the experiment, and Tung must solve the mystery of the boy’s death…and why he is still stalking this Earth. As pseudo-science and the supernatural clash, it is ultimately our divisive human nature, our own human qualities of love and hate, which support the filmic structure and power it’s theme. Hashimoto is driven by hatred for his superiors and crippled condition, and this fosters his belief in the Silk connection. Tung carries the burden of his mother’s illness, the guilt of selfishness because he can’t decide to end her life-support, to cease her enduring pain. As Tung begins to weave this metaphorical fabric into coherence, Hashimoto is seeking revenge and an end to his own suffering: his goal is to return as an eternal spirit. The ghost is kidnapped and its mother’s restless spirit violently stalks the city streets, killing anyone who stands in the way. There are some truly creepy moments but the film is more fascinating than frightening; I was more interested in the human finale than in the next atypical Asian ghost scare. But we learn that the maternal bond does transcend the grave; love indeed conquers the cold vacuum of death. (B-)

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