Reviews

Movie reviews: The Sleep Curse, Girls Trip double the fun for adults

Horror film The Sleep Curse unleashes gore and more, while comedy Girls Trip presents laugh-a-minute bawdy humour

For some reason - possibly because they work as an antidote to the wholesome The Emoji Movie - two films this week offer the full adult fun package.

Namely, decapitation, disembowelment, cannibalism, zombie sleepwalkers and at least one scene involving simulated sex with a banana and a large citrus fruit. In case it is not clear, the one with the fruit is a comedy.

Hong Kong horror work The Sleep Curse (R21, 101 minutes, opens tomorrow, 3.5/5 stars) is a blood-soaked blast from the past. Actor Anthony Wong, who won a cult following in the 1990s with grindhouse gore (The Eight Immortals Restaurant, 1993, also known as Human Flesh Bun; and Ebola Syndrome, 1996) once more teams up with Herman Yau, the famously efficient director who helmed those cheap, nasty, brilliant pieces of exploitation cinema.

Because of the R21 rating, viewers now get to see the action uncut in the comfort of the cinema rather than on smuggled VHS tapes.

Dr Lam (Wong) is a sleep researcher who is himself plagued by insomnia, spells of which are accompanied by horrific visions.

He is approached by old flame Monique (Malaysian actress Jojo Goh). She is terrified that the curse of sleeplessness, which has driven members of her family insane, will strike her too.

 The Sleep Curse stars Anthony Wong as a sleep researcher and Michelle Wai as a sex slave.
Above: The Sleep Curse stars Anthony Wong as a sleep researcher and Michelle Wai as a sex slave. PHOTO: UIP

In a lengthy flashback to Japanese-occupied Hong Kong, the ancestral root of the problem is shown, one that involves the rescue of a "comfort woman", or sex slave, played by Michelle Wai.

It's a complicated set-up, but it becomes clear that Yau relishes the story's convolutions. There is a level of detail here, especially in the World War II flashbacks, which feel unnecessary, but are worth following for the moral satisfaction they provide when bad people meet grisly ends.

There are a couple of jump scares along the way, but the big bonkers moment is saved for the finale. And what a finale it is. One scene will have men closing their eyes - and crossing their legs - simultaneously.

 Girls Trip stars (from left) Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish.
Above: Girls Trip stars (from left) Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish. PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION

For more fun with a phallic twist, there is Girls Trip (M18, 122 minutes, opens tomorrow, 3.5/5 stars) which contains the banana and grapefruit scene that has made Tiffany Haddish a breakout phenomenon. She throws herself into that scene with an abandon that recalls the When Harry Met Sally (1989) "O-face" restaurant bit that made Meg Ryan a star. Except, here, the raunch is set to maximum. For 2017, anyway.

Four women of a certain age, who have been friends since college, vacation at a music festival in New Orleans. Regina Hall is Ryan, the celebrity with the perfect marriage; Queen Latifah is Sasha, a tabloid journalist; Jada Pinkett Smith is Lisa, the mousy one, and stand-up comedienne Haddish is the all-out hedonist Dina.

There is a loose sequence of events involving yellow rain (it means what you think it means), drugs, male strippers and, yes, fruit-based sex acts. If one joke fails, another will hit in 10 seconds. The plot is secondary and forgettable. Enjoy the vitamin C.

Comedy Brigsby Bear, starring Kate Lyn Sheil and Kyle Mooney, in a furry mascot costume, is quietly charming.
Comedy Brigsby Bear, starring Kate Lyn Sheil and Kyle Mooney, in a furry mascot costume, is quietly charming. PHOTO: THE PROJECTOR

It is telling that Brigsby Bear (NC16, 97 minutes, opens tomorrow, 3.5/5 stars) feels like a children's movie in comparison with the previous two films, though, in reality, it contains scenes of drugs and sex.

This bone-dry comedy concerns James (Kyle Mooney), who was abducted by Ted (Mark Hamill) as an infant and raised in seclusion, watching videotapes of furry mascot Brigsby, invented by his kidnapper to pacify and educate him.

A Sundance hit, this is an unlikely film to emerge from director Dave McCary, who directs segments for satire sketch show Saturday Night Live.

This is a satire- and edginess-free zone; McCary wants audiences to feel sorry for James, even as they laugh at his social awkwardness. While at times aimless, there is a lo-fi charm to everything here, especially in how it applies Michel Gondry's (Be Kind Rewind, 2008) homemade prop humour to realistic renderings of teen America.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2017, with the headline 'Double the fun for adults'. Print Edition | Subscribe