NYAFF15: Insanity



“Insanity” directed by David Lee and produced by Derek Yee made its North American Premiere at the NY Asian Film Festival. “Insanity” is centered around a schizophrenic man, Fan Kwok-Sang (Lau Ching-Wan) who is convicted for involuntary manslaughter of his wife and is sent to three months therapy at a prestigious hospital. The psychologist who treats him, Dr. Chow Ming-Kit (Huang Xiaoming) is a prestigious doctor who later becomes the head of the institution. Despite having successfully cured the mentally ill man, he comes under scrutiny when Fan commits another crime. As the story progresses, the film begins to follow Dr. Chow Ming-Kit and fully immerses the viewer into his mindset. The viewer is left watching Dr. Chow Ming-Kit as he desperately tries to cure Fan to save his reputation. However, the tables are turned and unveils the doctor’s secret past and insecurities in contrast to his façade, making the doctor his own patient. While the doctor undergoes an identity crisis, there are also switches in scenes to show the reality of the world outside of his mind giving a complete perspective of what his happening in real time.


The film uses a mix of elements common in horror films to emphasize the fear and trauma the protagonists experience. For example, the disappearance and reappearance of the stalking old lady, the use of powerful sound effects, and the raw imagery of the dead wife. The film also incorporates the use of 3D effects when portraying the illusions of the rooms and mirrors, which gives an extra dimension to the mind of the protagonist. With the amazing high definition and stunning cinematography, the film gives one of the most realistic portrayals of understanding the mind of a mentally ill patient and the struggles they undergo that provoke the illness.

The finale is thought provocative, scrutinizing society to become more conscientious of the mentally ill to allow them to seek professional help without the negative stigmatization. The finale also encourages the audience to become proactive citizens and to aid one another to deal with life struggles. Through the cunning performance of both Lau Ching-Wan and Huang Xiaoming, they are able to reflect how mental illnesses can affect all walks of life and is up to society as a whole to break down the negative stereotypes to help people with mental and physical illnesses.


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