The problem with the dead is that they all wanted someone to listen to them!

shi yi the bride taiwan 2015

To prevent misfortune, families find corpse brides for their deceased sons.

They reinforce female skeletons with metal wires, dress them and bury them next to the man.

Helen Bobat, 2017

Title
Shi Yi  (2015) 
Also known as
 The Bride
Genre
Horror,    Thriller
Written by
Directed by
Country of Origin
Taiwan
Running time
88 minutes

oh! … background

This film is centred around a traditional Chinese practice of marriage to dead people. In Chinese tradition, a ‘ghost marriage’ “pinyin” or “minghun” which literally mean ‘spirit marriage’, is a marriage in which one, or both parties, are deceased.

Chinese ghost marriages are typically set up by the family of the deceased and performed for any number of reasons, such as the death of one of an engaged couple, to secure patrilineage of an unmarried daughter so the family line may continue, or to ensure that no younger son is married before an older brother who died.

While the custom can appear strange to western thinking, ghost marriages have been performed globally (in the past) from countries like Sudan and France. The origins of pinyin and/or minghun are unknown but reports of its practice can still be found today.

oh! … brief

TV producer, Liu Cheng-Hao is living the good life. Busy working on a new production, living well with his fiancée, Chen Yung-Chieh, and excited for his upcoming marriage. The only drawback is he has nightmares.

One day when he is out running, he comes across a red envelope which he picks up.  From that moment, the fate of Liu Cheng-Hao and his fiancée is changed.

oh! … talks film

By comparison to Japan, China, South Korea and Hong Kong, horror films coming out of Taiwan are rare and most unknown. Taiwan’s so-called thrillers are not close to being thrilling, and as an avid horror fan, I had to watch at least one horror flick from Taiwan, so I chose Shi Yi for that purpose.

The screenplay written by Lingo Hsieh and Teng-Kuei incorporates authentic local myth and symbolism and that resonated well with me. I think, given this is the first screenplay and directing gig Lingo Hsieh has performed, she did a good job. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t as bad as I believed it would be. Perhaps her co-writer Teng-Kuei helped significantly, I don’t know, I cannot find any background on the guy!

A significant fault, in my opinion, was the writing of character development. The characters came off as being very one-dimensional, a little stiff, perhaps this was an interpretation of the script, but I suspect had more to do with the writing.

One good aspect of the writing of the screenplay is the misleading suggestion that the woman you initially see the lead with is, in fact, his fiancée. You only later find out this is the ghost bride and those initial interactions are imaginings. Nicely done! His real fiancée’s corpse is rotting away in the bathtub.

As a director, the production came together nicely. The cinematography was not award winning by any stretch of the imagination, but, it was better than just good. The opening scene, the dream, was beautifully shot and Kang Ren Wu’s interpretation of this scene was mesmerising in a scary sort of way.

The costumes were appropriate. The sound effects, however, were strange. Noises that didn’t seem to fit could be heard in scary parts. It was odd at times. But, if anything succeeded, it was the horror aspects and the built-up thrilling components. There, I must admit, was the success of this film, along with a phenomenal cast that did their best with what they had been given.

Kang Ren Wu who was cast as Liu Cheng-Hao did a great job of portraying a happy, if somewhat troubled, man. The initial interactions his shares with his supposed fiancée are touching and tender, especially the love scene. Kang Ren Wu painted a seamless picture of almost matrimonial bliss.

The interactions Kang Ren Wu shared with Nikki Hsieh, who played Chen Yung-Chieh, the ghost bride, were endearing to start with and later when the truth is revealed, somewhat eerie and frightening. The chemistry was genuine, the emotions obvious and the love scene tender.

Nikki Hsieh’s portrayal of the ghost bride in human form was exceptional. She did an awesome job in convincing the audience that she was, in fact, Liu Cheng-Hao’s fiancée. As the vengeful ghost, she was believable in her interpretation of the screenplay. I was impressed. And she is very pretty. The two leads complemented each other physically.

Reina Ikehata who played Liu Cheng-Hao’s true fiancée had a very minor but significant role. She too returns as a ghost and frightens the neighbour’s daughter who is ghost sensitive and who eventually tied all the clues together and saves the day! Reina Ikehata’s performance was scary at times but solid.

Vera Yen who played Lin Yin-Yin was incredible. It’s a scary role to portray someone who can see ghosts, especially if those ghosts are malevolent. She did a good job!

oh! … that’s a wrap

If you understand the ghost marriage practice, it will give you a greater appreciation of this film. Yes, it was horrific. It wasn’t as thrilling or as mind-bending as it could have been, but it was well-written, the cinematography was good and the actors were remarkable in their own roles. Kang Ren Wu was especially good seeing as this was his first attempt at a horror flick. I enjoyed it. The right balance of macabre and not too much gore. Will I watch it a third time? Not likely! But the two times I have watched this were entertaining.

oh! … tidbits

Shi Yi has been called a terrifying Taiwanese horror film of the decade. That’s not to believe seeing as there are rarely horror flicks coming out of Taiwan.

The release of the film occurred the night before the beginning of the “Ghost Month.” Director Lingo Hsieh, producer Takashige Ichise, and main cast members Wu Kang-ren, Nikki Hsieh, Chie Tanaka, Andrew Chen, Vera Yen, ad Reina Ikehata were at the premiere to promote the film. The event opened with a suspenseful “ghost bride” ceremony.

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailer

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