aunted Office", a 2002 offering from Hong Kong,
is a horror anthology consisting of 3 episodes set in the same haunted office
building. Unlike other anthologies, there isn't a middleman (e.g. the Crypt
Keeper) to "tell" the stories, but instead the writers have
interweaved three separate stories that, in the end, merge to form one story. To
help continuity, characters from the 3 separate episodes appear in the
background of other episodes. It all works out in the end, with that inevitable
twist ending that all movie anthologies are required to have nowadays.
First up is the appealing Karen Mok ("So
Close") as a financial advisor who gets moved to the night shift, where
she is stalked by a haunted bathroom stall. Second up is Jordan Chan ("Sleeping
with the Dead") as a greedy boss who plots to lay off a kindly and
elderly employee so he won't have to fork up her hefty pension. The third story,
which actually shows up most often in the background of the movie, stars Qi Shu
as an office worker who has to cope with a sexually harassing boss as well as a
ghostly woman in white.
As with Chan's "Sleeping
with the Dead", the Pang brothers horror film "The
Eye" and the Leslie Cheung vehicle "Inner
Senses", Qi Shu's episode in "Haunted" features Shu as a
woman who can "see the dead". As you can probably guess by now, 2002
was a banner year for Chinese people who can see dead people. If one were to
open the dictionary to the phrase "jump on the bandwagon", I wonder if
Hong Kong cinema would show up underneath it.
Cheap shots at the Hong Kong film industry aside,
"Haunted Office" is, I can safely say, as scary as watching Jim
Carrey's "Dumb and Dumber" -- which is to say it's not scary at all,
unless you're a big fan of good taste, natch. The first episode, with the lovely
Karen Mok being stalked by a haunted bathroom stall, is a laugher. The second
episode, with Jordan Chan hamming it up as a boss with sticky fingers and a
horny disposition, is all screwball comedy. The episode with Qi Shu and Stephen
might have been the best of the bunch, only it didn't last long enough to prove
Of all the horror films that have cashed in on the horror
trend of 2002, "Haunted" has to be the least scary entry of the bunch.
Even Chan's lackluster "Sleeping
with the Dead" offered up better mood and atmosphere, if not a better
story. The three directors behind "Haunted" tries some neat camera
tricks, but I was more intrigued by the name of one of the directors -- the one
listed as "Not a Woman" -- than I was by the movie itself. Now why
would someone call himself or herself "Not a Woman"? What's
he/she/it/them trying to hide?
Although far from being even mildly scary, "Haunted
Office" nevertheless has some good points. It's a blast to see Karen Mok
and Qi Shu in the same movie again, even though their characters never really
interacted. (The two last appeared together in Corey Yuen's action thriller
Jordan Chan goes all goofy on us, while Stephen Fung gets the pleasure to
romance Qi Shu. The film also moves well enough that it never bores, so that's
always a plus.
As for the film's twist ending, I must admit that I didn't
see it coming, even though the movie left some -- but not an over abundance of
-- hints for us. Although I have to wonder -- toward the end of the movie, when
the ghosts disappear, why do they look like video game characters going on the
fritz? You would think being a ghost would appear less electronica-ish.