Movie Reviews 133 – Ab-Normal Beauty (2004)

Ab-normal BeautyBrought to us at the height of their success with the series of “The Eye” movies, the Pang Brothers “Sei mong se jun” (Ab-Normal Beauty) is yet another moody asian flic from Tartan Extreme videos. However the ‘extreme’ doesn’t really apply here as it’s a pretty tame movie compared to not only other Pang Brother productions (this one directed by Oxide Pang), but the parade of asian horror movies of the time.

Jiney (Race Wong), a talented photographer artist is evidently a very private girl who brushes off any friendly conversation from classmate Anson (Anson Leung) who clearly has a crush on her. Her only friend and photography companion is Jas (Rosanne Wong) who jealousy shields her from Anson.

While Jiney and Jas love to go out and photograph both nature and urban settings, Jiney is often left frustrated, conceding that she cannot seem to find what she calls her ‘perfect picture’. But her artistic juices are stirred one day when she witnesses a horrific car crash before her eyes and whips out her camera to capture the carnage. From that point on her photographic subjects become focused on death.

Her morbid fascination is a compensating mechanism for dealing with her distant Mother and a particular sordid episode from her past, where not only did her mother not believe the child Jiney, but one which forced the young Jiney to take matters into her own hands.

Jiney is horrified when she receives an anonymous snuff video depicting the torture and death of another girl. She and Jas try to figure out the source and meaning of the video, but before long Jinney, who’s obviously being stalked, receives another video worse than the first, but even that is only a precursor of what is to come.

The movie plays on both the mystery of Jiney’s past and then the arrival of the snuff videos. The first mystery is slowly unraveled throughout the film while the video segment is really only the second half of the film. As psychological horrors go it is a slightly weaker entry in the field mainly because the two plot mysteries are really disjoint and don’t gel together.

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