In this horror film by director Ryon Lee (“Haunted Road 2) a young woman called Sam (Michelle Wai) has to endure many hardships. Having been bullied most of her life she has become quite shy and does not talk to anyone except her mother (Anna Ng) who has her own problems dealing with Sam’s mostly drunk and violent father (Richard Ng). While her mother blames their poor finances, Sam believes she and her family are the victims of a curse, one which has manifested itself to a doll she always has to carry with her. Lately, the visions of a long-haired girl have been getting worse and have even infested her workplace.

However, as the bullying of her co-workers and her boss increases, she pleads the doll and the ghost to help her in her desperation. When she meets York (Yu Wu Qi), a young man she has been to school with, she thinks things might change for her, but when one of their co-workers disappears, Sam senses this might only be the beginning and she has to stop the curse.

Walk With Me” is screening at New York Asian Film Festival

In general, director Ryon Lee has constructed a film whose ambiguity between reality and folklore or superstition makes for an interesting mixture. The best way to describe this kind of approach would be a comparison to Hideo Nakata much under-appreciated “Dark Water”, a film which also blends the reality of a single parent and financial stress with various supernatural elements. Whereas you might find these elements in “Walk With Me” superfluous, the narrative offers much to support a more grounded interpretation, and of course the same approach works vice versa.

Nevertheless, the image of the reality, the visualization of issues like bullying, domestic violence and the fear of poverty is where Lee’s film truly succeeds. Far from being a social drama, the portrayal of the setting, the apartment building where Sam and her parents live, offers both, an insight into their emotional landscape as well as a perfect, if a bit obvious breeding ground for the supernatural. The omnipresent rust, filth, the flickering lights as well as the overall feeling of confinement reflect the kind of helplessness these characters feel when faced with the outside world. The fact that the ghost haunts and torments those who are already weak and under enormous pressure is what adds a certain level of cruelty to the scenes of terror in the film.

Besides the often strong visuals of the film, the central performances of Anna Ng and Michelle Wai carry the narrative even through some of its more exhausting parts. Giving what must have been an emotionally and physically demanding performance, Wai plays a woman on the verge of serious depression as the supernatural attacks serve as an addition to the kind of bullying she has to endure at work. The growing feeling of disconnect with reality caused by the many visions of the ghost gives her character a sense of desperation which is countered with the encounter with York.

“Walk With Me” is a solid horror film with dramatic elements. Lee certainly knows the tricks of the genre and how to establish a distinct mood for a narrative such as this while also relying on the performances of his cast. Even though some of the aspects, for example, the development of some of the characters or the ending, will not necessarily find much praise, this makes “Walk Wth Me” a decent enough entry within the genre.

Ever since I watched Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-Bi" for the first time (and many times after that) I have been a cinephile. While much can be said about the technical aspects of film, coming from a small town in Germany, I cherish the notion of art showing its audience something which one does normally avoid, neglect or is unable to see for many different reasons. Often the stories told in films have helped me understand, discover and connect to something new which is a concept I would like to convey in the way I talk and write about films. Thus, I try to include some info on the background of each film as well as a short analysis (without spoilers, of course), an approach which should reflect the context of a work of art no matter what genre, director or cast. In the end, I hope to pass on my joy of watching film and talking about it.