Out Of The Dark is a 1995 horror/comedy film directed by Jeffrey Lau. It of course stars Stephen Chow as Leo, a mental patient/ghostbuster and also Karen Mok as deluded lovesick Kwan. The pair act as a parody of Jean Reno’s Leon and Natalie Portman’s Mathilda in 1994’s Leon: The Professional by way of their dress. Chow in a long black coat, round sunglasses and a baseball cap instead of a beanie and Mok in an olive MA-1. They also have Leon’s carryall and potted plant as props.

The film is a prime example of “mo lei tau” comedy in its near senseless and illogical portrayal of events and conversation. The plot revolves around an apartment complex in Hong Kong and in some ways, is almost an homage to Wong Kar Wai’s Chungking Express, a clip of which plays in Karen Mok’s bedroom near the start. A couple accidentally kills their mother, who comes back to haunt them for revenge and this descends rather quickly into a macabre bloodbath involving chainsaws, oversized prop axes, guns, dynamite sticks, grenades, clingwrap, Maltesers and a pile of shit that’s censored.

The main gist is that the couple were haunted by their mother and despite being saved end up getting killed by Leo and Mok and the ragtag team of security guards, so they end up haunting the crew.

Frankly, there is no plot. Divergence and absurdity is absolutely key. Everything happens and also nothing at all. There’s a scene in which the wife in the couple is left alone in the apartment and there’s paranormal stuff going on. The TV goes on and she sees herself from behind displayed. She turns around and there’s a camcorder on the shelf, which she promptly picks up and then notices the TV displaying her dead mother instead. It’s this little detail that transcends the idea of reality and hallucinations and film.

It’s not going to win any prizes for being a great film and I’m sure some people just won’t stomach the humour but for me, it’s classic HK slapstick. And it makes me want to dress like this.

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