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The Hong Kong film masters the Pang Brothers have revolutionized modern horror cinema over the past decade. Their acclaimed movies such as THE EYE, which has been remade countless times within several different cultures by filmmakers desperate to recapture the pure terror of the original film, have transformed the way the horror industry approaches the development of new screenplays. Indeed the face of cinema as a whole, whether it be fantasy, science fiction or horror has been irrefutably altered as directors have attempted to mimic the edgy surreal effects the Pang Brothers use in their films to wreak havoc on the audience’s innate sense of fear. It is a style that is unmistakable and, though many may try, impossible to duplicate.

This is more than evident in the 2006 horror-fantasy film RE-CYCLE (Gwai Wik), the tale of a female horror novelist by the name of Tsui Ting-Yin (Angelica Lee), struggling to begin a new supernatural love story, who accidentally brings to life a terrifying world where old ideas and forgotten promises are discarded by the world. With the release of an indie film based on her first three best-selling love stories, Ting-Yin is under the pressure from the film directors and her publisher to produce a new novel quickly. She delves deep into her own subconscious pain and anguish in order to pull forth a compelling new story and in the process slips over the edge into a bizarre world of quickly disintegrating dreams and trapped angry ghosts from which she might not ever escape.

From the open credits on, the Pang Brothers eerie fingerprints are obviously deeply embedded within this tale of otherworldly redemption and reincarnation of identity. Launching headlong into the plot, RE-CYCLE is unrelenting and merciless with one masterfully crafted moment of suspense after another clutching at the viewer’s heart and soul with icy fingers. One cannot look away for more than a moment or lest they miss out on another spectacularly directed instance of surreal horror. This film is not merely another ghost story, however, nor is it another tale of a writer in search of a muse. RE-CYCLE takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride through the artistic subconscious, each bend and drop revealing a more demented and twisted aspect to the main character’s own desire to not only find the inspiration that has left her writing, but also make peace with her personal demons she has not yet been able to acknowledge.

The concept of an otherworld where dreams and ideas go to die is not a new one, but the way the Pang Brothers bring it to life on the screen is completely original and breathtaking. Indeed, the film made me, in a very strange and distant way, think of Wolfgang Petersen’s fantasy film THE NEVERENDING STORY which dealt with the death of the world of the imaginary. In THE NEVERENDING STORY the young boy is transported into this world and must fight to save it even as he watches it being destroyed by a lack of belief back in the waking world. However, this is where the similarities end with the Pang Brothers’ film for RE-CYCLE takes a far more devious and twisted path complete with hordes of zombies, vengeful ghosts, strange wombs lined with deformed aborted fetuses and other bizarre and disturbing visions.

The one, what I would call a criticism, I have of this film is the anti-abortion statement it is trying to make towards the end, which, made me a bit uncomfortable by its over the top obviousness. I tried to dismiss this in light of the picture as a whole, for the movie in general is simply brilliant. Perhaps the Pang Brothers felt the need to insert this personal political statement at the end for one reason or another, which is their every right as the filmmakers. However, I feel it truly detracts from the film for it lessens the impact of the rest of movie with a rather anti climatic ending. But this is a minor detail when you are considering whether or not to rent this DVD. Even as the staunch pro-choice advocate I am, I highly recommend seeing this film for its overall cinematic genius. I will be curious to see if filmmakers around the world attempt to recreate this one as they have THE EYE? It would be quite a remarkable feat to undertake if they do.

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