I suppose technically I should have tried to squeeze this one into last month's Scarelicious Movie Series but I just wasn't able to get to it in time. A horror anthology of three short films from different acclaimed Asian directors, Three ... Extremes is a well-put together package.
"Dumplings" is the first film, by Fruit Chan. Ching Li, an aging actress, who is losing the attention of her husband to much younger women, seeks the help of Auntie Mei (played fairly straight by the kooky Bai Ling, almost unrecognizable with a minimum of makeup). Auntie Mei makes special dumplings which will rejuvenate the women who eat them. The filling in those dumplings is horrifying and the sound effects as Mei assembles the dumplings and then again as Li slurps them down are positively grisly. I liked this short film the best of the bunch: it was the most straight-forward and easy to follow, despite not being for those of squeamish stomachs.
Park Chan-wook's "Cut" is the second installment about a movie director who is kidnapped and tortured by a deranged extra, forcing him to choose between strangling a child and watching his pianist wife's fingers get chopped off one by one. I found this one to be way too long and also confusing: the movie director's set was built to resemble his own home but when the kidnapper takes the director and his wife, he ties them up in another identical set? It can't be the same movie set because people would walk in on the goings-on; it couldn't be the director's home (despite dialogue to the contrary, although that could be the fault of the subtitling) because lighting is clearly visible up above the walls.
The third and final short is "The Box," by Takashi Miike. A young woman, a former circus contortionist, is haunted by her identical twin sister who died under tragic circumstances when they were ten years old. "The Box" is quite beautiful and stylish; the actresses are gorgeous; the stark whites and deep colors are striking. Miike's film is formal and psychologically scary, not overtly violent or gruesome. I also found the pacing a touch slow - but I was getting sleepy towards the end of it and that probably impacted my perception.
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