Compensation

A man wakes in an abandoned basement, a gun in his face. He does not know why.

Genre: Horror

Length: 03:33

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Producer/s : Chu-Yi Chen,

Director/s : Chu-Yi Chen, 

Writer/s : Chu-Yi Chen, 

Actor/s : Ying-Hong Li, 

 

A twist of nastiness

You might think that a black and white student project isn’t worth a great deal of attention, but Chu-Yi Chen’s little twist of nastiness stands out, and shows how less is often more. Chen calls it a crime film, and that’s how it starts: a man is tied to a chair, gagged, in a dark basement. A gun is shoved in his face, and the gag ripped off. Clearly it’s a ransom scenario…

His captor says nothing, so the man gabbles, offering money to be released. Then his captor shows him a photograph, revealing the unexpected motive for this kidnapping. Still he offers money, but money is not the kind of compensation the silent captor has in mind.

Then the poor man’s fate is revealed, his destiny sealed, and a poetic revenge obtained. It’s here that the reason this film should be described as horror, not mere crime, becomes clear.

Chen builds the tension well. The shaky handheld camera is entirely appropriate. It is tightly structured, with a clear set-up, raising of stakes, and resolution, where Chen cleverly switches from the captor’s point of view to the victim’s. It’s short and very sharp – indeed it might easily have been longer, using of ominous silences to build up tension, and utilising more of actor Ying-Hong Li’s capacity to convey helpless terror. But then, more might be less.