2014’s Parallel Maze is an enigma, in the best sense of the word. It compiles intrigue, death, passion, and suspicion into a non-linear elaborate ride. What begins as basically a remake of Hitchcock’s great masterpiece Psycho, evolves into a complicated murder mystery/thriller that will be sure to keep audiences guessing the whole way through.
Zhi Hui (Run Zhang) is a pregnant bank teller who takes her life in a drastically different direction when she steals thousands of dollars from her employer and makes a break for it, with the intention of bringing along her boyfriend (Qi Yu Yang). She checks in to a hotel run by a movie addicted host (Xiang Bin) and his wife (Ya Shu Zhan). From there, the story is comprised of twists and turns, and anything I could say as reviewer regarding plot points would spoil the film. I’m trying to respect your movie watching experience, and you can thank me later.
What I can speak to, however, is the appearance of the film, and under Hua Ya’s direction, this film feels gritty and saturated with darkness and complexity. His action scenes are disturbing and not as muddled as can be seen in most Hollywood blockbusters. The time displaced scenes never feel too far out of left field and maintain a consistency that the audience can follow. And of course, the major nods to Hitchcock will be appreciated by any fan of the Master of Suspense.
My only real complaint with the film is in the translated subtitles. I felt that the English was a little too directly translated from the original Mandarin script, which subtracted from the fluency of the story telling. I found myself getting caught up in how some of the lines could have been better conveyed colloquially for easier understanding, but I think that should be a consideration for any translated script and global film.
All in all, if you’re looking for a movie that will keep you on your toes during Cinequest, I would say to take the time for Parallel Maze.
Parallel Maze can be seen at San Jose’s Cinequest film festival at San Jose Repertory Theatre on Mar 6th at 9:30pm, California Theatre on Mar 8th at 2:30pm, and Camera 12 on Mar 12th at 2:45pm. For more information, visit www.cinequest.org.