Interesting Shaw Bros horror flick - watch it for the last 15 mins.
Hex follows an uneasy menage a trois in a traditional Chinese mansion where fear, paranoia, and violence consume everyone unfortunate enough to come near. "Tanny" Tien Ni plays Madam Chan, a woman dying of consumption. Her abusive alcoholic husband, Yeung, played by Wang Jung divides his time between drinking and abusing her and the help, which shortly consists of just Yi Wah (Chen Szu Chia), a newly-arrived family friend from the country. When murder comes to mind as a way out of this claustrophobic situation, the characters stir up more evil than they can cope with.
I've not seen Diabolique, which this film supposedly borrows heavily from, but I think that Hex owes a lot to the Hammer films of the 60s and 70s. Lonely house, check; interpersonal problems, check; plot twists, check check; little exposition bits done in voice-over, check check check! This film could do with 15-20 minutes being snipped out of it, and it relies on a lot of techniques that now look very hackneyed - the mirror there-but-not-there thing, the soundtrack bumps... Still, one of the final scenes - which it is no spoiler to say is a kind of exorcism - is weird, wonderful, erotic, creepy and very surprising. The penultimate scene is also genuinely quite disturbing. Tanny gives a good performance, as do the other two. For what is a pretty standard horror flick, a consistent message runs through the various twists and character developments: that fear and violence come from within as much as from without, and that vengeance is often too easily taken. Ultimately, no one can claim the moral high ground.
Overall, this is a flawed but interesting horror that saves its imagination for its last 15 minutes. It has been nicely restored by Celestial Pictures for their Shaw Bros rerelease programme.
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