Tuesday, October 5, 2021

THE TAG-ALONG 2 (2017) Movie Review

Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 5
Total First Time Views: 5
Amount raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT: $213.25

The Tag-Along 2 (2017) d. Wei-Hao Cheng (Taiwan) (107 min) (1st viewing)

In 2015, audiences were introduced to the Taiwanese urban (rural?) legend of a group of hikers in the late 1990s who were caught on video being followed by a mysterious and spectral “Little Girl in Red.” In so doing, director Cheng and screenwriter Shih-Keng Chien delivered a box-office smash that saw the group of hikers shuffling off this mortal coil one by one in mysterious ways. Two years later, Cheng returns to the fray with this slick sequel that delves further into the ghost girl’s tragic past, as well as considerably expanding the mythos.

Social worker Shu-fen (Rainie Yang) is assigned the case of investigating a strange hermited mother, Mei Hua (Francesca Kao Hui-chun) who is suspected of abusing/neglecting her young daughter, hiding her in a closed room in an apartment filled with talismans and spiritualistic symbols scrawled ceiling to floor. However, the government employee soon has more personal issues to deal with, when her daughter Ya-ting (Ruby Zhan Wan-ru) reveals that she is pregnant and – following a rather fraught conversation – disappears from school, where the closed-circuit TV reveals her being followed by… a young girl wearing red.

This is a tale of women, more specifically mothers and their daughters, and it’s a fascinating exploration of what “a mother’s love” can look like through different lenses. It’s also an Asian ghost story, so viewers can expect plenty of atmospheric chills and thrills as the characters attempt to find out what the vengeful spirit wants and how they can vanquish it and/or lay it to rest. We are also introduced to various Taiwanese customs and superstitions, from Mei Hua’s elaborate tattoos and scrolls adorning her body and dwelling to the mountain shamans who invoke The Tiger King using the body of Ya-ting’s boyfriend Lin (Nien-Hsuan Wu, in an impressive physical performance).

Things get a little FX-heavy in the final reel, with oodles of computer-generated ankle-biters pursuing our heroines, a jarring contrast to the somber and moody scenes preceding it, but if Cheng’s intention was to go out with a bang, he certainly fulfills that goal and I’m sure modern-day audiences are unlikely to even bat an eye. In all, while the storyline gets a little tangled at times and one occasionally wishes for a map key to remember who is connected to who and why they are involved, the whole affair clips along quite nicely, providing a satisfying emotional conclusion as well as the expected shocks.


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