"Asian Girls" Review

Horror short film "Asian Girl" is unsettling and tense. As Asian horror films have begun to gain more a mainstream reputation, particularly after the American remakes of J-horror releases "The Ring" and "The Grudge", there is an newfound anxiety in viewers to feed on because of how significantly those works have permeated the zeitgeist.

Writer and director Hyun Lee accomplishes a respectable amount in just six minutes, through excellent pacing and the use of stillness and quiet. While Western horror films from Hollywood are often heavily reliant on predictable patterns that build up to jump scares, Asian horror films from East Asian filmmakers are typically more understanding of how effective waiting longer to drop scares is in building tension.

There's a clear visual design in mind from not only director of photography Gregoire Liere but costumer designer Judy Lee as the short boasts stylish accents of black and red. It's unclear what the narrative is intending but that only enhances the overall mystery. On the one hand, the short may be addressing the anxiety of an increasingly isolated generation of city dwellers who live alone in cramped apartments, and a lack of socialising with one's neighbours can make them feel more like a potential threat. There's also the possibility that the film is adressing inter-Asian tensions that Western audiences may not pick up on due to a lack of understanding of the social and historical baggage between different Asian countries.

The film's two leads are Rainbow Chan and Stella Leung, both of whom give excellent performances despite having no dialogue. Instead, the pair deliver eerie expressions and peculiar physicality to shake up the audience. They portray a Chinese factory worker and a Japanese office lady, and these professions open up the possibility of some underlying commentary on socioeconomic disparity. What is clear though is that "Asian Girls" makes a bold impression; Hyun Lee has remarkable potential to make big waves in the horror genre.

Watch the "Asian Girls" trailer here:


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