New Blood (2002)

Directed by
Essential viewing if you like horror films
Reviewed by Simon on 2005-10-13

Soi Cheang first got significant recognition for Horror Hotline: Big Head Monster, which has a silly name but ironically was most notable for being a HK horror film that actually tried to be scary without mixing in comedy, and was pretty successful. His follow-up, NEW BLOOD, continues this approach and improves on it with a better script and higher production values.

Three people meet in a hospital when they're called upon to denote blood in an emergency, to save the lives of a young couple who made a suicide pact because one of them was dying of cancer. Their blood has a 50% success rate, leaving the man in a coma but the girl dead. Soon after, the three begin experiencing mysterious and unsettling visions - it rapidly becomes apparent that the dead girl hasn't taken too kindly to their interference. As the saying goes, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions".

From the very start, NEW BLOOD impresses with the stylish and atmospheric visuals, with blood being a recurring theme. The film wastes absolutely no time trying to create a happy world to shatter, and the mood from the start is bleak and haunting. Like most horror films, the atmosphere and the scares are created almost entirely from the visual and especially the sound design - both of which are expertly realised in this film.

The lead roles belong to Bernard Chow, who doesn't appear to have any other films to his name, and Soi Cheang regular Niki Chow. Bernard does a good job, but it is Niki who really shines - a gorgeous and talented actress who deserves success (and incidentally, is welcome to marry me any time she likes).

The one objection I had to the film really was the "twist" at the end, which was a bit too obvious and reduced the emotional involvement with the rest of the story. Apparently it's compulsory to have at least one twist at the end of your horror films though (I blame Hitchcock), and NEW BLOOD does manage to keep things ambiguous enough that the twist doesn't completely negate the entire film that preceded it, as has been the case with some horror films I've seen (personally, I feel cheated when I spend 99 minutes getting involved in one story, then have the film-makers take 60 seconds at the end to say "Ha, that's not what happened at all, it was this totally different thing").

As regular viewers will know, I'm not a horror fan, but I found plenty to like in NEW BLOOD. It's miles ahead of THE EYE and the infinite RING clones, yet hasn't had nearly the same success or a Hollywood remake, which is curious. Can it be that people actually don't like intelligence and coherency in their horror films? Or is it just that they can't recognise it?