Susu – UK, 2017 – reviews

 

‘She found the perfect escape. Others could only try’

Susu is a 2017 British psychological thriller feature film written and directed by Yixi Sun [as Xiaoxiao Sun] and  co-produced by Norman J. Warren (Inseminoid; Terror; Prey; et al). The movie stars Zitong Wu, Frederick Szkoda, Steve Edwin, Zhu Lin and Junjie Mao.

Qi’an and Aimo (Zitong Wu and Lin Zhu) are close friends and students living in London. Having been offered a weekend job as Chinese language translators, they travel to an old English family mansion in the countryside to transcribe the films of a Chinese Kunqu Opera star Susu, who married into the English family.

Though the two girls are intrigued by the mansion’s enormous collection of items from the golden age of cinema, Qi’an and Aimo quickly become unsettled by the strange environment and the mansion’s occupants, hoping to get out of there as soon as possible.

The pair’s exit is delayed, though, with the arrival of the handsome heir to the house, Benjamin; both girls develop an affection for him, leading to a growing tension between the two friends. However, when Aimo goes missing, Qi’an discovers the disturbing secrets that the mansion’s occupants would rather not reveal…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“There is no sense of forward momentum; instead, each scene begets a fresh attempt to move the plot sideways. With Sun’s direction and editing similarly scattershot, there’s not enough sense of consistency to build up tension. The actors are hopelessly out of tune with each other and some of them risk being outperformed by the furniture – which is beautiful, for what it’s worth.” Eye for Film

Susu is a slightly confused movie with a distinct point to make. Whilst not always smoothly or coherently told through the performances and screenplay, the attention to detail in the props, setting and cinematography give the movie a creepy feel somewhat reminiscent of The Shining, though a little less of a polished whole.” Zoe Crombie, Film: Enquiry

Susu‘s stew of dark Freudian undercurrents, mysterious disappearances, and peril that gradually evolves from implied to imminent doesn’t stray very far from what one might expect from such a classical dramatic narrative. Still, even if the story’s ultimate revelations aren’t terribly surprising, the film is gorgeous to look at, its twists are pulled off with obvious aplomb, and the screenplay (also by Sun) is quite satisfying in the way it poses some very intriguing questions early on…” Film Threat

“Although there are too many flashbacks that do not feature Mao, she clearly has a thorough understanding of the British horror tradition. It is just a lot of fun, like watching a stately Jane Eyre adaptation turn into a Giallo. Highly recommended for genre fans…” J.B. Spins

“A clunky narrative with too many empty asides shoehorned in—a buttinski neighbor, a random historian who pops in for no reason—tries to pile on a twisted multi-generational tale, and while it contains zero surprises, it still leaves the audience wondering why. Combined with stilted performances and inconsistent motivations—Qu’an and Aimo turn on each other at various points with little or no prompting—this all ultimately sinks Susu.” The Last Thing I See

“In short, it’s all a mess. Narratively, Susu is like a broken vase taped back together. The rough form of something resembling a coherent story is here, but many of the pieces are mixed up and forced into the wrong place. This starts with the characters, who have little consistency and only exist in this film to connect the dots of the scattershot plot.” Scene Stealers

” …Susu is perhaps something of a clumsy film. It doesn’t quite seem to know what mode its working in – it uses horror tropes, but its story and feel is pure mystery or melodrama, and these things don’t quite gel together in the finished product. It does look lovely, though, and it has an intriguing story that just about holds up.” Warped Perspective

Main cast and characters:

  • Zitong Wu … Qi’an
  • Frederick Szkoda … Benjamin Stuart
  • Steve Edwin … Shirley / Charles Stuart / Antony Stuart
  • Tom Mannion … Dirk Cain
  • Zhu Lin … Aimo
  • Laura June Hudson … Margaret
  • Roslyn Hill … Joia Ross
  • Junjie Mao … Susu
  • Matt Beveridge … Policeman
  • Simon Roberts … Henry

Trivia:

Characters watch scenes from co-producer Norman J. Warren’s Satan’s Slave in a projection room.

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