Directed by Chung Mong-hong
Official Selection, 2013 Toronto International Film Festival
Best Narrative Feature, 2013 Taipei Film Festival
Sushi chef Ah-Chuan collapses. The reason isn’t immediately clear, but when he’s taken back to his 70-year-old father’s cabin in the woods, we begin to wonder if it might be ghostly possession that’s stricken him. Soon, lacerating violence explodes out of the hypnotized Ah-Chuan, played with ominous quiet by Joseph Chang (GF*BF, SDAFF 2012). And then there’s the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu (The One-Armed Swordsman) as his no-nonsense father with secrets and a shovel. Wang unnerves us with his gruff speech and odd timing. He’s the magnetic center of an offbeat thriller that’s constantly shifting around our expectations of crime, family, and the human body itself.
Chung Mong-hong’s films are like cavernous adventures of glowing surfaces and disorienting personalities. They come from a somewhat morbid place, but are full of wonder, rendered in saturated palettes, unusual angles, and unexplainable interactions between people. SOUL is thus the perfect showcase of his skills, employing his sinister tendencies for the telling of a possession story. The high stylization and twisty storytelling of Parking and the grim worldview of The Fourth Portrait combine in the best ways, unleashing a most effective and creepy work of blood-splattered suspense. –Brian Hu