There are many scenes—combined with creepy, dark set pieces—that could have made Rigor Mortis a great film. Sadly, this is a film made for a generation raised on texts and short attention spans; with style over substance. To be fair, Rigor Mortis has some brilliant moments, but they are all but buried within a greater context of ideas.
We follow the main character, an actor who has fallen from grace, as he moves into a derelict apartment building full of colorful characters. Among them is a hyper-sensitive woman who sees ghosts, a nice older woman who becomes not-so-nice later in the story, a vampire hunter with no vampires to hunt, and so on. The actor tries to hang himself, but is stopped by the vampire hunter and glutinous rice cook in the building—who apparently hasn’t left the premises in decades and dresses in underclothes and a robe no matter the situation.
But I digress—this is an almost-ensemble piece—if only everything—and every motive—was clear. There are twin ghosts who haunt the actor’s apartment. Why? And why are they evil, especially if one was raped and the other took revenge? Was it revenge? What’s the point? That one story, on its own, would have sufficed, as it was one of the stand-out points of the film; however, it is mushed in with: the vampire hunter’s tale of being left alone at the apartment as a child, and the rituals he may or may not have earned on his own; the older woman’s lament and grief as her beloved husband fell to his death down the stairs while taking the trash out; the black magic practitioner who decided to turn him into a vampire and the rituals that inevitably came afterward; back to the delicate woman who sees ghosts who may have been the wife of the rapist of one of the twin ghosts who now inhabits the actor’s apartment…
Are you still with me? Yeah, it’s a little tough. If the story were concentrated on one story, it would have been easier to have empathy for the characters—as well as follow a steady narrative. However, we don’t have that privilege, so I’ll just wonder at what could have been—even with great cinematography and competent CGI and acting—and tell you that this film has flashes of brilliance hidden in the din and dust. Rigor Mortis isn’t dead on arrival, but for some viewers, it might as well be.