NYAFF 2022: The Funeral

Directed by: Dan-Guei Shen
Distributed by: Pinocchio Film

Written by Alexander Reams


The bland opening, which consists of a woman stocking drinks and various snacks at a gas station store is captured in a monotonous way, with limp attempts at blocking, the camera is placed straight onto Li Chun Hua (Selina Jen); she moves in a robotic manner as she restocks the store. Everything is lifeless. This stocking goes on for a significant portion of the first act. This showcases her job but tells us nothing about her character, where she is emotionally, and what journey she is on. Hua does not interact with those around her, giving off the idea that she is a loner. While that does give some character background, the amount of time spent and the amount of development ratio don’t add up. Once we move to the supernatural aspects they are traditional, in an unfavorable sense. Shen and Chang employ poorly realized jump scares that are manufactured shoddily.

The technical failings behind the camera begin with Keng-Ming Chang’s screenplay who speaks in riddles and half-truths in the dialogue between characters, which means exposition is rarely thrown at us, but it also means there is no exposition, no explanation, and no information. I found that the ending did not follow the film’s own logic set. It ends up overshadowed by Shen’s inability to effectively deliver the capabilities of the horror genre that the screenplay was written in.

“The Funeral” was screened as part of the 2022 edition of the New York Asian Film Festival.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

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