• Charlie Vogelsang

Shadows (2020) Review

Showing for the first time in the UK at the Chinese Visual Festival, Shadows is a psychological thriller following a forensic psychiatrist uncovering the truth of a case and her own demons from her past.

As the feature length directorial debut for Glenn Chan, Shadows is a remarkably visual and intense thriller that focuses on forensic psychiatrist Ching, portrayed by Stephy Tang. Suffering with her own past trauma, Ching must work with the police to uncover the truth of a series of cases that seem to be linked.

The film opens up with eerie sounds and disturbing visuals to showcase a crime scene. It’s at this point that we are introduced to the first case of an attempted murder-suicide from an upstanding member of the public. The killer seemingly snaps to murder his entire family and attempts to end his own life.

Shadows starts off as a visual spectacle with so much mystery and intrigue, but eventually becomes a formulaic thriller with predictable twists and turns. Within the first 15 minutes of the film, it’s understood who the mastermind is and leaves little to the imagination.

Inside the mind of one of Ching's patients

Despite the narrative being a little basic, the acting and entire cinematography is spectacular. Stephy Tang is no doubt the stand-out star and is clearly one of Hong Kong’s best actresses at the moment - she is utterly unstoppable. Her portrayal of Ching has so many different layers and you can’t help but root for her throughout the film.

Similarly, Keung plays an incredible part of the cliché cop that actually leaves a mark. Somewhat predictably, he is a single father with a daughter he neglects - but he plays the part spectacularly. The same goes for the rest of the cast - while they may be formulaic at times, they deliver solid performances that are entertaining to watch.

If you are looking for a captivating psychological thriller film, then definitely check out Shadows

There’s no denying that the plot is a little plain, but the editing, sound and general cinematography makes up for this. Some of the shots in the film look like a work of art; so detailed and amazing to look at.

Overall, Shadows is an ambitious thriller that could’ve been a masterpiece but lacked real twists or surprises throughout. There are recurring debates throughout about morality and the idea of humans being thoroughly evil, which is interesting in parts but adds nothing new to the philosophical debate.

Glenn Chan is a clearly talented director to keep an eye on as Shadows is a fantastic debut feature film. Of course, the film isn’t perfect and has some clear issues - but the rest of the package is outstanding.

If you are looking for a captivating psychological thriller film, then definitely check out this movie. There are a few teething issues, but this is ultimately an experience that shouldn’t be missed.


Watch the UK premiere of Shadows at the Chinese Visual Festival.