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TIFF 2021 Review: Terrorizers – “Every frame is carefully composed and beautifully lit”

The cause and effect of a disturbed Ming Liang (Austin Lin) committing a slashing attack in public is explored through his interactions with a group of disillusioned youths.

Divided into chapters titles named after each of the main characters, with the pivotal incident being Ming Liang (Austin Lin) attempting to slash his ex-girlfriend in public. Filmmaker Ho Wi Ding weaves together the various narratives by intersecting events that are told from a different perspective. This emphasizes the cause-and-effect that decisions have not only those making them but also the ripple effect on others.

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An effective eerie moment occurs when an apartment door slowly opens and an obscured face of Liang slowly emerges from the shadows while the sounds of his ex-girlfriend making out with a female porn star across the hallway is heard. It is like the bogeyman has just been unveiled. Oddly enough this is scarier than when he stealthily appears in the latter’s apartment as she sleeps, unaware of his presence.

By unveiling the slashing incident and subsequently showing Liang engaged in virtual violent acts, Ding raises valid questions as to the psychological impact on users. It is as if Liang is taking part in a game simulation when he attempts to commit murder in the real world. Not everything is cast in darkness such as the scene that occurs in the bus shelter during the pouring rain that combines romantic awkwardness with humour. Every frame is carefully composed and beautifully lit while the narrative lacks the polish to avoid the soap opera overtones that makes the plot drag on.

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 9-18, 2021, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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