You know you've got somewhat of an instant classic on your hands when your horror anthology has a segment that compels one to say something along the lines of: "I never want to eat, see, and devour a dumpling ever again". This horror anthology by some top-notch Asian directors is sick, brutal, disturbing, twisted, and a pretty good example of how to make a genre picture such as this work. The film draws horror rather ingeniously. It doesn't only scare because of gore; it scares out of the horrors of every-day life. And...maybe a little bit of gore too.
Fruit Chan exercises his twisted brilliance with the first of the three segments, "Dumplings". To me, this is the best segment. The story follows an aging actress in search of re-claiming her good old young self as she starts to meet with a woman who makes special dumplings just for such a problem. However, this woman has a secret ingredient; which is the ingredient which makes these dumplings work their magic. Her secret is just a touch of fetus. Isn't that grand? I note this as the best segment of the three because, as I said, it makes me never want to eat another dumpling ever again. A sickening, twisted little fantasy; "Dumplings" is original and daring. Ling Bai also gives an exceptionally haunting performance as the crazy dumpling lady.
Park Chan-Wook, director of "Oldboy" (which is an awesome-freaking-movie, see it now), crafts "Cut". This is the middle child in this anthology; so it might have some problems, as only middle children do. But that doesn't mean I can't like it. This story concerns a film/television director as he is kidnapped and psychologically tortured by a madman who has acted as an "extra" in several of the man's past films. The mad kidnapper intends on cutting off every single one of the man's wife's fingers, one-by-one. Yes, he has kidnapped her to. A clever, violent/disturbing, but somewhat moving piece. Well-made on all accounts.
"Box" is the final installment in this anthology, and it is directed by Takashi Miike; king of the creepy (for the most part). A woman has nightmares that she is being buried in a box. As the story goes on, we discover that maybe- just maybe- this isn't just a dream after all. Good story, some say it's the best of the three. Manages to hold our interest no matter what it's doing, and has some admirably bizarre moments/imagery that only a weirdo like me could love.
There aren't many horror movies out there like this one. It's one of the best horror anthologies, and I admired everything about it. There's nothing that you just can't like about it, to tell the truth. Each story tells its own tale, with the taut direction of each master. This may be new ground for at least one of them, but it's good to see new faces in new territory from time-to-time.
I was shocked by how well-made this film was. From the opening shots, all the way to the end, the film is beautifully shot, photographed, and even conceived. The imagery is surreal and bizarre; just the way I like it. There's also some clever writing going on, but you'll only see it if you can distant yourself from the vomit that may very well be resting somewhere in your stomach. Some will not enjoy this film for its violence, and that's OK. But any true horror fan should see it. It does not seek to merely provoke out of gore; but also out of real scares. It makes us think about the horror. It makes us bathe in it. And when we're done absorbing it all, we get to have one last breath. And then the film starts back up again, scaring us like hell. In short, it's a smart movie; a very smart movie. Not just for its genre, but as a film overall. If you want a good horror anthology, then here's one to ponder watching. I can't imagine it being rejected by many, but the question is, will it stick? Perhaps it will, perhaps it won't. Does it matter? Again, probably not. But what does matter is good horror movies, and the fact that they can still be made. In a world where few of these genre pieces succeed, take the fruit and cherish its beauty and taste. As long as you don't see it as "bad taste".