The Pang Brothers follow up their 2003 horror hit "The Eye" with "Re-Cycle," a visually imaginative horror film about an author’s (Angelica Lee) journey through terrifying and fantastic worlds she creates as she writes her next great novel.
The film offers some jolts early on when it’s set in the real world. Those moments are done by-the-book and look like the Pang Brothers are trying to save money for the special effects that are to come, but they are effective nonetheless. As the film enters the realm of fantasy, the scares become less effective, and it becomes more like an action/adventure movie. The worlds are dark, desolate, and lacking in color. They’re filled with things that have been forgotten or abandoned. Zombies would fall from the sky or come out from the ground. The thread that ties these worlds together isn’t apparent for most of the film, so after a while, it feels like an exhausting travelogue.
The twist does bring some substance and relevance to the previous proceedings, but you wish it had come sooner so that the movie up until the twist doesn’t feel so repetitive. The stars of the film clearly are the art direction and visual effects. The environments felt real and not like they’re generated from a computer. It reminds me of last year’s "MirrorMask" except the worlds in "Re-Cycle" are less whimsical, more horrific, and less weird. I didn’t like "MirrorMask" much, but I did enjoy this one because it’s a bit more accessible.