The Pang Brothers - twins Oxide and Danny - have already gained substantial acclaim for their ghost diptych "The Eye" ("Jian gui") and "The Eye 2" ("Jan gui 2") - two very creepy films that currently exist as import DVDs, with a varying mixture of extras. Thought it premiered at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival, "The Tesseract" was actually made between "The Eye" films, and is based on Alex Garland's novel.
Garland's best known works are "The Beach," and his original script for "28 Days Later" - two narratives that don't shy away from twisting genres, and plunging characters into a series of desperate situations with sometimes lethal consequences.
"The Tesseract" titular gimmick deals with the four sides of a cube, which filmically unravel in the hotel though four key characters; put another way, a noirish thriller is tossed into a blender and reassembled, using some daring, editorial skill to fill in missing shots and sequences. Taking over the staid editing reigns from brother Danny, Oxide rebuilds the narrative threads into jarring, stylistically thrilling segments that collectively maintain solid continuity. Even if you've never seen narrative experiments like "The Limey," "The Underneath," or "Memento," Pang's stylish film treats the viewer as an instinctive, savvy filmgoer - making this thriller quite distinctive from more mundane, direct-to-video efforts churned out by Hollywood.
Sundance scored a major coup in making a Pang film available domestically, bringing broader attention to the duo's skill as filmmakers, and perhaps increasing the possibility that other Pang works might get Region 1 distribution. The transfer is very clean, showcasing some really gorgeous widescreen visuals.
The Dolby 5.1 mix - mostly in English, with subtitles only for the Thai dialogue - is extremely robust, and the percussive score by Smashing Pumpkin's guitarist James Iha (here influenced somewhat by Eric Serra's "The Professional" music) is organically mixed with a clever blend of heightened sound effects, making "The Tesseract" a great film to pipe through the 5.1 system.
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan
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