A brief look into Hong Kong’s horror cinema

As I explore further into the region of Asia and its cinematic variations, it always surprises me that such a vast continent can contain even smaller components with a deeper context than expected. Hong Kong, a small city hanging on the coast of China seems to be on the surface as a pin in a haystack. When I travelled to Hong Kong at 14, I remember feeling so stunned at the fact that such a small component of Asia held an immense amount diversity and culture. It always grounds me to realise how extensive a space can be despite its limits. Hong Kong is a strong representative of this. 

Hong Kong’s film industry has reformed its productions to tailor interest on an international scale. It’s interest in expanding beyond its parameters for film came after the immense success of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in the Western market. The quality of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is in the traditional beauty of an ancient culture held within the framework that communicates its significance across multiple audiences. To accomplish this for horror films proves to be far more challenging with films usually seeing an American adaptation rather than a distribution in its original form.

Inner Senses finds an effective balance of traditional elements that inspire East Asian horror films by incorporating aspects reflective of memorable American horror. Inner Senses (2002) is recognised by Jinhee Choi and Mitsuyo Wada Marciano (2009) as having numerous connections to Japanese traditional ghost tales and the original story lines formulated within American films such as The Sixth Sense. Choi and Marciano analyse these cinematic structures as being due to Hong Kong production company Filmko aiming distribute films through “global themed productions and co-productions” (2011, p.59). Furthermore they establish that Hong Kong films contain a trend of combining “localised variations on Hollywood hits” (Choi and Marciano, 2011 p.60).

Inner Senses is an interesting example for Hong Kong’s submission to the horror genre as it breaks the trend of American adaptations with instead a reversal where we see the Asia taking a note out of Hollywood’s books.


Choi J, M.W Marciano 2009, “Horror to the extreme: Changing boundaries in Asian Cinema” in Hong Kong University Press, pp.57-70.

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