Rotterdam 2024 Review: HUNGRY GHOST DINER Offers A Feast For The Eyes And Soul

We Jun Cho's debut feature film is a very sweet family drama.

Contributing Writer; The Netherlands
Rotterdam 2024 Review: HUNGRY GHOST DINER Offers A Feast For The Eyes And Soul

Bonnie is the sole employee of a food truck, having fallen in love with cooking after a slightly magical-realist experience she had as a child. When she meets up with her estranged uncle, lines between life and death, dream and reality, and past and present start to blur. The people she meets along the way might be undead.... And they might be hungry.

That sounds like a set-up for a horror-film, but the way the Malaysian Hungry Ghost Diner sets itself apart, is that apart from some mild scares, this is in fact a ghost story that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The hungry ghosts here are not out to hurt people, but reconnect with the living through food. Set during the Hungry Ghost festival, this is a film about the ritualistic use of food, the importance of family, and how memories are created at the kitchen table.

IFFR2024-hungryghostdiner-ext1.jpgIf Hungry Ghost Diner has one weakness, if you can call it that, is that its outlook on life and family is so warm, cozy and unassuming, that for some viewers it might border on the slight. There is barely any heavy drama to speak of, but the filmmakers prove that with a deft touch, some light humor and some great acting, you can make a story in which pretty much nothing happens, still quite engaging.

The stunning cinematography is one of the other hidden strengths of this film, bathing the film in a pink glowing neon that, unlike most neon-lit films, never feels harsh, but instead quite warm and welcoming. Lead performer Keat Yoke Chen is also utterly charming, wide-eyed and engaging, taking everything that happens to her at face value. She is a protagonist you come to love.

The sweetness of the film also continues in some stylistic touches that might be too quirky for some audience-members, but that went over well with me personally. An intermission is done in the style of a charming traditional puppet show, and there is even some levity in a few musical moments. This is a film that is so sickeningly sweet that it might be hard to stomach. But in between the heavier, meatier fare of the film festival I saw this at, this was a welcome change of flavor. Call it a dessert, or a piece of great candy. The sweeter, the better.

Hungry Ghost Diner

  • We Jun Cho
  • We Jun Cho
  • Sebastian Ng
  • Jacky Yeap
  • Keat Yoke Chen
  • Eric Chen
  • Sam Chong
Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.
We Jun ChoSebastian NgJacky YeapKeat Yoke ChenEric ChenSam ChongComedyDramaFantasy

Around the Internet