A friend once said that Netflix is the equivalent of opening the fridge and finding nothing good to eat, but selecting something anyways because you’re hungry. I find this to be true about 99% of the time. Once in a blue moon you might find something worth sinking your teeth into; most times, you settle for stuff like Out of the Dark because you’re starved for entertainment.
Mrs. Li (Suk-Mui Tam) is dead and her ghost haunts an apartment complex. Enter Leon (Stephen Chow), an asylum inmate who has no fear – and happens to be a ghost hunter. While investigating, Leon discovers that Mrs. Li was murdered by her son and daughter-in-law. Instead of facing the authorities, the two hurl themselves off a building – with some accidental help from Leon. Having died while wearing red, they are to return in seven days as vicious poltergeists and seek revenge. Will Leon be able to train a ragtag group to have no fear and face the ghosts?
Yup, we’ve got another horror/comedy on our hands folks. And, like most horror/comedies, this isn’t very good. While the film does contain a maniac energy, the execution is more concerned with comedic set-pieces than with a flowing narrative. This style could have worked for a half-hour short or TV show episode, but stretching it to nearly 80 minutes dooms it to failure. While the comedic elements do deliver a few laughs – mostly guffaws -, the humor grows thin and annoying as the films goes on. Numerous times I found myself checking the remaining runtime to see how much longer my boredom and annoyance would last.
However, the banter between Captain Lu (Hung Lu) and his fellow security guards prevents Out of the Dark from being a total write-off. Hell, they should have just made a movie about them. Hell, make a TV show about them. I’d tune in every week! One scene involves one of them, drunkenly and unknowingly, getting it on with a headless ghost. Brilliant!
Like most horror/comedies, Out of the Dark resorts to parody – and Leon: The Professional is their target. Um, why? I understand the Poltergeist parodies, but why parody an action/drama unless you’re making a parody of those types of movies? Some might say it’s “post-modern,” but it’s really just stupid and unfunny. The parody only extends to a few outfits and the fact that he carries a plant around with him, as well as Leon’s introduction in Leon: The Professional. Thrilling.
Out of the Dark is one of those movies you’ll find yourself watching only when you are desperate for entertainment – and, like an alcoholic sold water and told it is vodka, you’ll find yourself desperate for entertainment after it finishes. The comedy will hardly make you laugh, the ghosts will hardly creep you out, the film will hardly entertain. Take my advice: only watch if someone offers you hard cash. Or if you’re completely desperate. Or if you wanna listen to the banter of the security guards.