Painted Skin is another ghost story in King Hu’s collection of ghost stories. It has the typical low-key lighting, and the use of shadows, and the huge amounts of smoke that is typical in King Hu’s ghost stories. I can definitely see now how much King Hu loves using smoke in his films to give that sense of mystery, horror/ ominous feel. King Hu also uses a lot of blue hues in his ghost films. Painted Skin is not any different. In all the scenes that occur at night or in low-key lighting, the color blue saturated the scene. I believe the use of blue is to imitate the moon and to emphasize the idea of a ‘full moon’ and the supernatural occurrences that are thought to occur during a full moon. During the day, the use of yellows are commonly used. The use of yellows with the added use of smoke also give that mysterious, ominous feel which adds well to the ghost story.
In terms of the storyline of Painted Skin I was honestly hoping for King Hu to flesh out more of the female ghost. Upon introducing her, I was intrigued and interested in how her character would contribute to the story. However, has the story progressed, her character seemed to shrink into the background and instead of being a female character that stands out like in a number of other King Hu films, this particular female character felt just like another background character who allowed her male counterparts to try to solve her issue for her. Honestly, it was rather disappointing to see this because I’ve always enjoyed King Hu’s use of strong female leads/ characters, but that was very much lacking in this film.