Review Thriller : INSANITY (NC16) - Lau compelling as schizophrenic in insanely bizarre thriller

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Fan (Sean Lau Ching Wan) suffers a schizophrenic attack and kills his wife (Michelle Ye Xuan) by accident. After he receives treatment at a mental institute, Dr Chow (Huang Xiaoming), who becomes his friend, eventually deems him fit to return to society, even though other doctors disagree. When it appears that Fan has killed another person upon his release, Dr Chow decides to help him cover up the truth to protect his own reputation.

Meditative drama or creepy horror flick?

The film flip-flops between the two extremes so often and so unnaturally that it suffers from the split personality disorder it portrays.

At times, the movie attempts a serious discussion about mental disorders and their place in society and it succeeds in making some valid points about the unfair prejudices sufferers face.

Then it demolishes all that good work when it employs every obvious horror movie trope there is, including amping up a painfully screechy soundtrack and having creepy-looking characters pop out at random.

Fan's vengeful mother-in-law (veteran actress Paw Hee Ching) appears so suddenly in several scenes, it is as if she were an angry ghost (although there are really no supernatural elements at play here).

Perhaps, director David Lee got a little confused and thought he was still working on his better-reviewed debut flick Yes, I Can See Dead People (2008), a straight-up teen horror.

What saves this insanely bizarre work is lead actor Lau's compelling turn as a deeply troubled schizophrenic.

Ditching histrionics, he delivers a layered and controlled performance, exposing all of Fan's insecurities as he is released from the mental institute and sent back into society.

Eaten away by guilt for causing his wife's death, he has the potential to be unhinged again and audiences will be guessing till the very end whether he has indeed been cured.

With Huang's portrayal of a doctor with a dark secret, however, no guesswork is needed - every time his character is distressed, he opens his eyes as wide as possible and screams non-stop.

In the movie, he plays mentor to Lau. In real life, the China actor should look to the veteran star for acting tips.

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