Mmmmmm….Saturday morning and I’m NOT at work. (At least, not yet…) So as promised, here’s a review of one of the many DVD’s that arrived recently from my Malaysian source, “Oan Hồn” aka “Spirits”. This one has been out for a while now, but I missed it when the Region 1 disc was available, luckily the Region 3 from Malaysia is now available and I’m ever so glad I grabbed it this time out. You all know how much Neko-chan loves her creepy lil’ ghost stories…. Naturally I had to give it a try…especially since it’s the first Vietnamese DVD in my collection……(haven’t found a really good source yet for the ever important english subtitles that this Catgirl can’t live without….)
But that’s not a problem here. “Oan Hồn” is beautifully subtitled in almost perfect english. So perfect, that I had to do a bit of detective work to find out this one was actually made right here in the US, apparently for the Vietnamese market……go figure. It’s a good bit of work, the film has an all-Vietnamese cast that really do an excellent job of making you believe that this film is a little piece of Vietnam itself….. Naturally, I’ve intrigued you enough to want to “Read On”, so what are you waiting for? Hehehehe!!!
So OK, the synopsis I found for it explains it pretty well: “Set in modern day Vietnam, “SPIRITS” is a fascinating introduction into the spiritual beliefs and mysteries of a culture rarely explored in cinema.
In a series of three interlocking stories, we learn of the fate of a young writer named Loc (Tuan Cuong). In the first episode, “The Visitor”, Loc comes to reside in a remote bungalow on the edge of a sugar cane field. It initially seems abandoned, until he meets its sole occupant, a lovely young woman named Hoa (Kathy Nguyen). She is shy and withdrawn and has touch of sadness to her; but her selfless consideration-matched by Loc’s sweet openness to her-sows the seeds of love between them. However, her story is still a mystery to him. She hides a dark secret, one that will drive Loc to the edge of madness.
In the second episode, “Only Child”, Loc is still inhabiting the old house. He is in the care of a beautiful young psychiatry student named Linh (Kathleen Luong). In him she sees not a madman but a man of talent driven by passion. Through her patient care, Loc returns to reality and their love blossoms. They marry, but Linh cannot bear them a child. She too has a dark secret, which soon comes back to haunt her – with terrible consequences.
Part three, “The Diviner,” takes place many years later. Loc, now a grey-haired hermit, rents out a portion of the house to a traveling spiritualist, LAN (Catherine Thuy Ai). Through her perspective, the story comes full circle when she uncovers the summation of the troubled history contained within the house.” Credit vcdz.fr.online
I liked this one a lot. It’s not a really gory film, like most asian ghost stories seem to be these days. Instead this one relies on atmosphere and a truly interesting interlocking story premise to hold your interest. The acting is subdued, and complements the style well. This is a low budget film, as the limited sets and cast would suggest, but “Oan Hồn” doesn’t feel limited by this. In fact, this actually gives a very claustrophobic feel, empathizing the characters as being trapped by the house and it’s curse. I imagine it wont be everybody’s cup of tea, as it is a slower paced film, without any real bloody horror or conflict, but I think it’s definitely worth a look. I can tell you that I’m looking forward to seeking out more of director Victor Vu’s work. I hear he did another piece, a TV series called “Mysterious World”. If it’s out there on DVD, I’m definitely gonna have to track it down.
All in all, Neko-chan gives this one a firm 4 “Meows” out of 5 for trying something old, and making it into something new.