The Tag-Along (2015) ** UK Taiwan Film Festival 2019

March 25th, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Cheng Wei-hao; Cast: Wei-ning Hsu, River Huang, Liu Yin-Shang, Ming Hua-Pai; Taiwan 2015, 93 min.

Cheng Wei-hao’s horror flick is a decent debut feature but horrific it is not. Based on an old rural myth and written by Shih-Keng Chien, it set up Wei-Hao up for greater things, including a sequel, Tag Along II (2017), which scored at the box office. While the original is low on thrills, its horror elements being far too benighted,  monsters being rather too benign, Ko-Chin Chen’s atmospheric camerawork help to keep us all interested.

Estate agent Wei (Huang) lives with his grandmother Ho Wen (Shang), who spoils him rotten. His long-time DJ girlfriend Shen(Hsu) is keen on her independence Wei wants to marry and have children. The feature opens with a ‘Missing Persons’ poster of Wei’s auntie Shui (Pai), one of many who suddenly disappear. But in her case, she returns seemingly unharmed, only for Ho Wen to disappear under stranger circumstances, involving a girl in a red dress. Wei meanwhile has mortgaged his grandmother’s house to buy a luxury apartment in order to keep Shen on side, but it has the opposite effect, and then Wei disappears with his grandmother later re-appearing. Shen discovers Wei in the depths of the forest, where he is captured by evil-doers the guise of babies and monkeys.

All well and good but certainly not remotely scary and the mixture of hyper realism and horror fails to catch fire: the creepy little critters are more cute than frightening. Finally, the finale is like an advert for marriage and childbearing, somehow spoiling a diffuse project even more. 

Tag-Along II is more of the same with the director, scriptwriter and DoP collaborating once again. This follow-up sees four women in search of their missing children; again the emphasis and directive is on childbearing: any women not taking part will be punished. Needless to say the ending opens the possibility for a third part. AS


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