PHANTOM OF THE THEATRE (2016) Reviews plus new ‘We Love Asian Horror’ YouTube review

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Phantom of the Theatre is a 2016 Chinese mystery horror film directed by Raymond Yip [Wai Man Yip] (The House That Never Does; Blood Stained Shoes; Till Death Do Us Laugh) from a screenplay written by Jingling Li, Manfred Wong and Mei Yuan Yang.

The movie stars Ruby Lin, Tony Yo-ning Yang, Simon Yam and Gangshan Jing.

1930s Shanghai: An allegedly haunted theatre is filled with the vengeful spirits of a tragically-trapped performance troupe murdered in a fire thirteen years ago.

Novice filmmaker Gu Wei Bang (Tony Yo-ning Yang) decides to shoot a supernatural love story in the theatre. He casts attractive starlet Si Fan (Ruby Lin) and himself in the lead male role…

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:
“In Phantom of the Theatre, gothic romance and Grand Guignol horror are diluted by Chinese censorship and flawed writing, but still executed with visually delightful and enjoyably macabre aplomb.” LP Hugo, Asian Film Strike

“Fans of cheesier Chinese films will certainly enjoy bits and pieces of what Phantom of the Theatre has to offer, but it’s a rough ride at times. It feels like a film that might earn its cult audience down the road, just on the sheer absurdity of some of its story and visual elements…” Reifschneider, Blood Brothers

” …more of a romantic mystery with nods to The Phantom of the Opera, Jing Gang Shan’s scarred, cloaked villain lurking around and making use of chandeliers, secret passages and the like. The film does actually have quite a high body count, and Yip packs in plenty of thrills and ghoulish action, keeping things moving along briskly, if chaotically.” Eastern Kicks

“Loaded with spooky trappings, Phantom looks great. With its nostalgic heart and little on-screen violence to speak of, it would be an appropriate Halloween selection to view with older parents (but the scenes establishing the acrobats’ fate might be too intense for young children). Recommended for fans of tragic gothic romance and 1930s style…” J.B. Spins

“The Phantom is a relatively peripheral character. He is facially disfigured and wears a mask but much of the plotting in the second half involves he and the equivalent of Christine engaged in an elaborate scam […] Thus Phantom has now been contorted into not a romance but an elaborate revenge scheme that has almost nothing to do with the original story.” Moria

“Genre fans may be disappointed as the tone shifts from supernatural to Pirandellian to bittersweetly romantic. But the carefully stylized performances by Lin and Yang go a long way toward making the transitions smooth and, in the final scenes, surprisingly satisfying.” Joe Leydon, Variety

“Cecil Cheng’s visual effects are truly a highlight of the film, showcasing the apparent ghosts of the doomed acrobatic troupe whom now plague the theater. However, the titular phantom is actually a human and when their identity is revealed, Cheng did quite a nice job with the make-up effects of this phantom.” World Film Geek

“Filmed entirely on sets, Phantom glories in its own artifice. The movie is carried by sweeping widescreen images, dynamic camera movements, impressive special effects and a color scheme that contrasts icy blues against fiery reds. There may not be any actual ghosts in that theater, but the CGI is uncanny.” The Washington Post

More Chinese horror


Cast and characters:
Ruby Lin … Meng Si Fan/Kong jin/Kong Lan
Tony Yo-ning Yang … Gu Wei Bang
Simon Yam … Gu Ming Shan
Gangshan Jing … Kong Shen
Huan Huang … Fei Li Si
Jiangguo Lin … Tang Shi Rao
Ming Hu … The Adjutant
Natalie Yao Meng … Pan Ru Yu
Xudong Wu … Liu Kang
Patricia Ha … Wei Bang’s Mother
Zhi Han … The Butler
Zifeng Zhang … Kong Lan (young)
Xiaochuan Li … Ma Ru Long
Tian Jiao Luo … Xiao Mei
Chang Rui Du … Actress
Jia Xuan Li … Actress
Ching Li … Master of Ceremony
Yunwei He … Master of Ceremony
Yang Li … The Thief

Technical details:
1 hour 44 minutes

Original title:
Mo Gong Mei Ying

Phantom of the Theatre was released on DVD by Well Go USA on October 11, 2016. It is also available to rent or buy via Amazon Prime Video

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