Silk (2006) Review
Written by: jmh314
In many Asian horror movies, ghosts are a main focal point of the story. These spirts often times haunt and kill the living, but why do they do this? How did they become this way? If we were able to capture and study these ghosts, would we have a better understanding of how the afterlife worked? These types of things are attempted to be solved in the Taiwanese film Silk. Silk provides an interesting twist on your standard ghost story as it attempts teach all it can about a ghost through it's behavioral patterns. It was a very interesting concept, and while it was sometimes a little far fetched, it was a good change of pace from your typical Asian ghost stories.
Silk opens with us learning about a team of ghost hunters who pay a freelance camera man to photograph places looking for paranormal activity. From the sounds of things, previous attempts have been unsuccessful. The camera man is taking his pictures and this time captures a picture of a boy in a seemingly empty room. The team of ghost hunters are thrilled and take it upon themselves to further investigate.
We come to learn the ghost hunting team is actually a team of scientists. Their research wasnt always to hunt ghosts but to discover the secret of anti-gravity and how to float or walk on the ceiling. Lead scientist Hasimoto creates an element called Menger Sponge. The menger sponge is bunch of material that can trap types of electromagnetic energy, such as a spirit. He has learned to use this menger sponge to entrap the young ghost boy in the room they found him in by surrounding the room in this material. Hasimoto traps the boy because he wants to study him and learn why ghosts exist. In order to be able to see and study the ghost, Hasimoto develops a spray form of the menger sponge that can be applied to the eyes. Once applied to the eyes, the ghost and all his actions are visible.
Learning everything about the boy proves to be difficult. He moves his lips like he is talking but they cant figure out what he is saying. Everyday at 430pm, he stands by the door and tries to leave the room but the menger sponge surrounding the door will not let him leave. As a result of these problems, Hasimoto hires the best detective he knows of; one who can read lips and has a "special" ability to see things that most people overlook. His name is Tung and he is very reluctant to join the team. When Hasimoto mentions this may help better understand how to help save Tung's sick mother, Tung reluctantly joins the team.
Tung realizes this isnt going to be an easy assignment after seeing how violent the ghost boy can be. He studies the body of one dead victim from before he joined the team. He also witnesses one scientist get killed because she tried to help the boy escape and instead got trapped in the room and killed. Realizing this is a dangerous yet puzzling mystery, Tung does everything Hasimoto asks him to. He reads the lips of what the boy is saying to provide insight into the thoughts of a ghost. One day when the boy goes to the door at 430 like usual, despite knowing he is dangerous they let him out. Tung follows the boy everywhere to see where he goes and get clues as to who he is and how he died.
As Tung begins to gather these clues and unravel the mystery of our young ghost, Hasimoto draws ever closer to discovering how people become ghosts and what drives their actions. But as the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place, is Hasimoto properly assessing the facts or is he blinded because he has an illness and is looking to become a ghost as a form of immortality.
After an unfortunate accident, Hasimoto's studies are ordered to be shut down by his financer. With Hasimoto believeing he has discovered the mystery of the boy, he decides to let the boy go. Where will the boy go and how dangerous is he? With the secret of the ghost seemingly figured out, will Hasimoto be able to use reason and recapture the ghost before people die or will Tung have to find a way to stop the ghost on his own?
I thought Silk was a very great supernatural/horror/mystery movie until the last portion of the movie. The first three quarters of the movie was one of the most intelligent and origional ideas for a ghost story I had ever seen, but it really unravels and takes some strange turns in the end. It is a shame that the bottom dropped out at the end because it was so good at the beginning.
The acting was quite good, as the actors were able to add depth to their characters. Chen Chang was very good as Tung and played the compasionate yet strong detective very well. Hasimoto was played by Yosuke Eguchi who did a great job in giving his character a passion for his studies and showing his quiet rage boiling within. Director Chao-Bin Su had a very stylized approach to the story and did a good job having his actors keep an emotional feel to their actions. The cinematography was very crisp and the film had a good use of colors and space.
The special effects that existed were on par with most Asian horror films. Not much blood effects, but there were some scenes with the ghost boy going inside of people's bodies that looked pretty good. The few times the menger sponge was highlighted and given some time, they did some interesting effects on screen with this including making it levitate and having it multiply hundreds of times and absorb the ghost. Nothing was over the top and everything used fit into the film very well. There was a good special effect scene in which one character walks on a ceiling talking to someone who is laying on a bed below.
Silk is definately one of the more interesting takes on a ghost story I have seen in a while. This is really a story driven by characters and storylines, as it is more than you typical ghost story. It touches on emotional themes like family and existence, and utilizes emotions of love and hatred to help explain why ghosts exist. My biggest problem is the last 20 minutes or so of the film as it spins out of control. They tried too hard to give the story a twist after doing a great job setting up the story at the beginning. If the ending would have been a little less chaotic and forced, this may have turned out to be one of my all time favorite Asian horror films. I still highly recommend this film but wished it wouldnt have fallen apart in the end. If it wasnt for the ending, this may have been one of the most intelligent ghost stories ever created.