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Secrets In The Hot Spring

Opening Date
19 Jul 2018
PG13 Some Frightening Scenes
109 mins
Mandarin with English & Chinese subtitles
Comedy, Horror
Lin Guan Hui
Zhang Ting Hu, Sing Hom,

Amid foul-blowing winds and squawking crows, there seems to an old, decrepit hot spring hotel deep in the mountains. It was the dream of Qie Xiaogin’s family. After Xiaogin’s parents passed away, his aging grandparents have struggled to keep the hotel alive but the young Xiaogin has been hesitant to take over the hotel because he is afraid of ruining the dream of his deceased parents.

Xiaogin transferred to a third school during his fifth year of studies at high school. For that winter vacation, his grandparents tricked him into returning to the hotel. Xiaogin’s classmates Little Princess and Lu Qun tagged along uninvited to escape being bullied by hoodlums at school. While the three boys were temporarily staying at Xiaogin’s family hotel, they quickly found out that the hotel was in pretty terrible shape and was also haunted by ghosts.

The fear that lurks in the shadows of this haunted hotel forces these three high school students who could not stand the sight of each other to develop an extremely close friendship. As they step closer to the real truth behind the ghost infestation, will they find out the secret that hides underneath the steaming hot springs?

By Jason Lin  19 Jul 2018
A melting pot of several genre and stylistic influences, Taiwanese Lin Kuan Hui’s first feature Secrets in the Hot Spring engages curious viewers with its unconventional yet comfortable blend of horror and comedy.
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A melting pot of several genre and stylistic influences, Taiwanese Lin Kuan Hui’s first feature Secrets in the Hot Spring engages curious viewers with its unconventional yet comfortable blend of horror and comedy. Set at a brisk pace for timed physical comedy, it could however be difficult for some to appreciate certain humour and references.
Opening with a scene of horror at a spooky hot spring hotel, visual treatment and observed aspect ratio reminds one of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Edited with several quick cuts to allow the film to not dwell into plot details and accentuate moments, Lin has a quirky approach towards narrative that enables sensory story-telling.
Bringing three teenage school boys together, Xiaogin (Zhang Ting Hu) and his new mates Little Princess (Hung Yan Siang) and Lu Qin (Lin He Xuan) finds themselves at a rural hot spring hotel for most of the film’s running time. Horse-playing around with their brand of jokes takes time to warm up to unfamiliar viewers, but the trio’s chemistry is the strongest attribute that should pique interest from the start to the end.
Hong Kong veteran actors Law Kar Ying and Mimi Chu provide a bipolar set of characters interacting with the teenage trio. Amidst their sporadic moments, which are brief and scattered across the film, comes a subconscious sense of anchorage as the generation gap between them is addressed onscreen in some of the most peculiar ways.
There is also Taiwanese actress Guo Shu Yao providing some dosage of vivacious moments to the film albeit regrettably limited to the role of a jester. Guo does however present remarkable onscreen chemistry with the trio and is a pity that her character wasn’t scripted as part of the trio.
Production values are relatively high for a debut feature, although a section of the soundtrack might come across to be blatantly influenced by known blockbusters (Pirates of the Caribbean). While visual effects and lighting may be superficial values for budding filmmakers where the focus should be on the story, they work very well for genre effects in Lin’s film.
Just when the audience watch Lin switch genre gears between horror and comedy, a pleasant surprise comes in the form of the family heartwarming element that became the core of the film in the final third. While it might have easily been dismissed as cheesy in most cases, Lin brilliantly presented it as a culminating deliverable that supports why the early chapters of the film took place the way they did.
Secrets in the Hot Spring is a fresh Taiwanese genre fusion production. Lin not only provides cinematic novelty but might just have done enough to woo some limelight as many would be awaiting Lin’s next production with some expectations.
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