|With Womb Ghosts, self-financed auteur Dennis S.Y. Law again proves that money really can buy anything, including a feature film with commercial theatrical distribution in Hong Kong cinemas. If it weren't for Law’s clout and wallet, a film like this would only end up aon the bottom shelf of your local video store or in the closet of some aspiring film student. As utterly incoherent and ineptly directed as the film is, Womb Ghosts also shows that a Dennis S.Y. Law film is always worth watching – if only to see what new disaster the man can concoct.
You can’t blame Law for not having the right formula, though. Law is an aspiring commercial filmmaker who knows how to package his films; he used brutal action to disguise bad storytelling in Bad Blood, and he used sensational storytelling on the criminals rather than the crime itself in A Very Short Life. Here, he casts popular model Chrissie Chau and teams her with pale ghosts straight out of those Grudge movies.
As the film's title might suggest, Law takes on abortion with this story of two women interconnected by circumstance. Winnie (Koni Lui) is a woman whose latest pregnancy has tragically ended in a bloody miscarriage, while Zoe (Chrissie Chau) is a nurse who is having an affair with Winnie’s husband. For some unknown reason, Zoe is haunted by a spirit so strong that even her ghostbusting father (Lam Suet) - who does business using a young ghost that he keeps in captivity - doesn’t know what to do. Since the film focuses on two women and their struggles, one might be tempted to call Womb Ghosts Law’s feminist film.
However, anyone who believes that probably hasn’t seen a Dennis S.Y. Law film. Law know what the market needs, but he’s not a filmmaker whose work is worth taking seriously. In between ghost sightings accompanied by cheap sound scares, Law creates totally inconsequential scenes that serve as further evidence why he should not sit in the editing room of his own films. Law has yet to learn that when a character goes home, the audience does not need to see them entering the room, turning on the lights, opening and closing the door of another room, getting into bed, and turning off the lights before finally showing her in pain. In one scene, a man suddenly falls out of a hospital after leaning against a window. However, the incident isn’t triggered by any supernatural forces, nor does it serve the story in any way – the poor man is simply the victim of Law’s frivolity.
There is nothing subtle in this film or Law’s direction, as the director even resorts to a Murderer-esque reveal scene in which a character is told by the ghosts why she is being haunted, and even reveals her punishment: hours of being slapped in the fact by the ghost. There’s even a bit of fan service, when Law has the ghost lift Chrissie Chau’s shirt up to reveal her bare stomach before it slowly crawls inside. The visual is sure to be appreciated in certain circles, but its importance to the plot is highly debatable.
Womb Ghosts may be only be terrifying quality-wise, but Dennis S.Y. Law's works should be appreciated for their intentions. He’s one of the few Hong Kong-based filmmakers who insists on making films for the local audience without any consideration for Mainland censors. However, this makes his films all the more frustrating; Law may be a truly Hong Kong filmmaker (another one, Herman Yau, is also Law’s frequent collaborator), but the only thing consistent about his films is their generally shoddy quality. Nevertheless, there’s a train wreck quality to them that makes them always worth watching. Know that Womb Ghosts has little redeeming value if one is looking for quality, but it’s certainly worth checking out just to see what a successful real estate developer can do with his money. At least he isn't spending it on Lehman Brothers bonds or burning it in a landfill. (Kevin Ma, 2010)