Inner Senses (2002)

Rating: C+

Dir: Law Chi-Leung
Star: Leslie Cheung, Karena Lam, Waise Lee, Norman Tsui

When Yan (Lam) moves into her new apartment, she starts to see ghosts; her shrink Dr. Law (Cheung) is a lifelong sceptic, who feels these are mere hallucinations, resulting from a repressed trauma in her youth. And, initially, this seems to be true, with Yan responding to treatment. But then Law starts seeing dead people… Is his scepticism misplaced? Or is the doctor losing his grip on sanity? This was the last film made by Leslie Cheung, which adds an extra, grim level to the rooftop finale, never intended by the makers, when viewed in the light of Cheung’s subsequent real-life suicide from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Prurient interest aside, it’s only in this last 20 minutes that the film gets going, with some nightmarish imagery which is extremely effective. Up until then, the director is painfully, annoyingly fond of loud stings on the soundtrack while something barely startling happens on-screen. Since both main characters do a decent job with their roles, you’re left to lament the usage of these jolts, when a less hysterical approach would pay far greater dividends. However, I really liked how the film never comes down on one side or the other as to whether ghosts exist – whether you view events as a supernatural tale or a study in madness is largely left up to the viewer. It works fine either way, despite all the misguided attempts at cheap shocks.