Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
What's it about
A talented young art student develops a strange fascination with taking photos of death. Then she loses her marbles and starts a downward spiral.
Is it good movie?
Hereís yet another film from the Pang brothers that features yet another disturbed girl who has another strange adventure. Just as their previous effort The Eye had a bit of eye trouble, it shouldnít be too surprising that Ab-Normal Beauty has an eye of different sorts, this time a girl with an eye for photos, death photos that is. Now that in itself is a great set-up for a thriller/horror, because we all know death leads to bad, bad things. And for the most part, Ab-Normal Beauty follows up on that promise. The psychotic, hot, sexually confused girls donít hurt either. But what really enhances the film are the visuals, which at times I found stunning. The Pang brothers do more with the camera with meaningful gyrations and fades that actually add something to the character than do most modern American directors (I looking at those music video guys). Here, the effects exist for more than an affect; itís about the main character Jiney, and placing the viewer in her mindset. The cameras seem much influenced by Se7en, which isnít surprising. The fast cuts, the moody lights, the techno sound, they all reek of the David Fincher influence. But I digress; itís time to point out the not-so-good. The main problem is the utter lack of plot. Sure, you have a basic plot of a talented art student who becomes fascinated with taking pictures of death. Then she goes nuts. Thatís the story that sustains over an hour. Whatever happened to the B plot? While Jineyís story is mostly engaging and interesting, the idea here is so razor thin that I kept thinking this would have been an excellent Masterís of Horror episode. As a feature of this kind where with a disturbed point-of-view, think of Taxi Driver. No film has ever been as effective in placing the audience in the mindset of a character. And how many story lines did it contain? How effective was it?
Another complaint comes from the staleness of the characters. They all seem past their expiration date as no one stood out. No uniqueness. No reason to be remembered. Well, I shouldnít say that because one character in particular did stand out, but seeing how they didnít appear until the end of the third act, I wonít spoil. But letís just say a character appears that makes the movie; a villain impossible to shake from your brain. Up to that point, the film had lost steam and my miniscule attention span. But then, with little anticipation (there is a thing called foreshadowing thatís helpful in movies), Ab-Normal Beauty smackís you senseless. If you were bored or were hoping something wild might occur, it does not disappoint. The ending is a provocative, disturbing, frightening and painful finale that makes it worth the wait. Is it a good movie? Despite all my complaints, I dug it.
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS Surround Sound 5.1
The Making of Ab-Normal Beauty: Pretty standard stuff with interviews of the cast and crew, outlining the story and Pang's ideas for visuals.
Deleted Scenes: Seven total scenes, but nothing too outstanding here. Mostly seemed like extended scenes. Was hoping to find a deleted B plot, but no luck.
It's hit and miss, but the Pang brothers have delievered another bizarre film ripe with disturbing images and hot female leads. Not completely successful, but photo paper thin close.