According to Chinese folklore, Nu Gui are the spirits of women who were unjustly killed or abused by men. A score to settle, these demons have such a vengeful hate that their “dark, astral energy” won’t let them rest, according to the onscreen titling, and the target is obvious. But as the saying goes, dig two graves if revenge is your calling. Only the old adage doesn’t necessarily tally just two victims in this case. A single minded, warped sense of personal justice doesn’t take collateral damage into account either, and despite some shortfalls, Chaz Fenwick’s Malice: Nu Gui makes that loud and clear in 47 minutes.

Zheng (Kent Lee) is the first victim, and a harrowing score in hot pursuit, he’s definitely not enjoying himself. Tortured and sleep deprived, we feel the desperation in Lee’s recounting, and accompanied by the wails and screams of unknown origin, the prospects are not good. He’s also cloaked in shadow and darkness, but the lack of illumination doesn’t add to the terror as intended.

The fear shines the brightest when we can see the deep contours of Lee’s exasperated face, and something is lost as we move in and out of the darkness. Nonetheless, Malice the demon (Martina Chen) claims he’s a murderer, and she’s making him pay. So much so that suicide is not good enough for the entity. “You only die by my hand,” the apparition seems to be targeting us too.

But what did we do? A question that even a guy like Joe could have. He’s an insensitive college student who exudes misogyny, and his lucky day, the demon sits on a date with him in the human form of Sai.

Again, the terror loses steam through both characters. Joe is a familiar caricature, and Jake Harrison’s delivery does not elevate the director’s intent. Not a great choice, it would be more effective if his presence was more based in reality. A young man with only one thing on his mind, he’s so over the top that men won’t be able to see elements of him in themselves. As a result, we make no connection, and what happens to him could never happen to us.

As for Sai, Chen conveys a soulless, determined, yet bland logic. Consistent with the character, the cause of the terror could be better served. She is the victim of an atrocious abuse. Why not have her access the generations of pent up anger and channel into a discourse that actually leaves a mark on deserving men.

Even so, we get the point and Sai/Malice goes to work on Joe. More darkness spliced with candlelit shadow, a clearer, longer look at the tortuous application would up the ante significantly.

Of course, Sai isn’t done yet. Joe’s roommate Lee (Joshua Chan) and his friend Keo (Mya Lazorka) are on deck. He’s a decent guy, and she cautions him to beware of this odd girl’s troubling behavior. So the story moves forward, but Chan and Lazorka don’t really elevate the angst.

Discussing the unusual situation with Joe and Sai, their acting doesn’t rise to the level of uncertainty that the story is after. Chan fails to emote a believable concern, and Lazorka is unable to effectively counter as a disbeliever. Thus, we lose the sense of the potential disaster at hand.

Lee and Keo are drawn in anyway, and the imagery, wails and damning score doesn’t signal an escape. But who exactly is trapped?

Despite areas where Malice: Nu Gui comes up a bit short, the story still carries a message that does not recommend revenge as a guiding force in life. So put down the shovel, the desire for payback turns us into the evil we hate, and the greater the vitriol, the more people we will drag down with us.




According to Chinese folklore, Nu Gui are the spirits of women who were unjustly killed or abused by men. A score to settle, these demons

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