Monday, 18 June 2012

Seventh Moon (2008)

At a glance:
Burning effigies:
A multi-million dollar industry.
I've decided to revisit some of the more recent films about the Hungry Ghost Festival, the calendar staple that lends such a rich source for ghost stories when I was growin up. This American horror indie would've disappeared under the radar, if it were not written and directed by Blair Witch Project (1999) mastermind Eduardo Sánchez and had the dirty star appeal of Amy Smart in the lead. Seventh Moon is based on the Chinese legend that on the full moon of the seventh lunar month, the gates of Hell open and the Dead can enter the realm of the Livin. Melissa (Amy Smart) and Yul (Tim Chiou), Americans on a honeymoon in China, end up lost in a remote village, thanks to nervous taxi driver Ping (Dennis Chan).
Bad news on the doorstep:
Horror movie pre-requisite:
Doin what you're not supposed to. Without backup.
The burnt offerings may be lost on Western viewers but for anyone comin from this part of the world, it's pretty creepy stuff - although Eduardo Sánchez seems to have taken a wrong turn somewhere and turned this into a monster movie by the third act. Many critics have lamented on the decision to overuse the shaky cam technique here, a favourite for the director. I believe that the excessive quick cuts and only half-seein the obviously obscured "ghosts" took some of the spook out of what was set to be a fairly creepy effort.
Perennial wonderment:
Amy Smart:
I'm sexy but do they know it?
Why can't Amy Smart make it like Blake Lively? I remember her vaguely in early films like Varsity Blues (1999) and Road Trip (2000) but it was in The Butterfly Effect (1994) opposite Ashton Kutcher that I thought she was really gonna make it. After the two Crank movies, I don't think she has anythin substantial lined up on her CV. What a waste. I always look forward to her gettin her kit off.
Reminds me of:
Kelvin Tong's The Maid (2005) and Herman Yau's The First 7th Night (2009).
Watch out for:
Dennis Chan Kwok San 陈国新 as the cabbie Ping. Nice to see some old hands still findin work. The man has worked in the Hong Kong film and television industry as a producer, director and actor for more than 30 years, perhaps best known to Western audiences for his work in Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Kickboxer franchise. His latest appearance on the big screen was a cameo in Andy Lau's box office gem A Simple  Life (2011) @ Sister Peach.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
The two leads do their best and give us some reason to care for them but the supernatural elements grew tiresome.
DVD Active's Gabriel Powers notes that the climax is so similar to The Descent (2005) that Neil Marshall should call his lawyers. For further info, visit the Seventh Moon official site, which is oddly still up today. ★★
Bonus material:
For the unitiated, this is what every Chinese production does before shootin and not just those that concern ghosts.
Wonder what Amy thinks of all the hocus-pocus.
Wished Mr Director would let the camera stay put for 10 seconds!