Potentially a GREAT film falls flat
Philip C. Perron | New England, USA | 10/09/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Ghosthouse released eight films the prior year (similar to the horrorfest releases) and a handful of them were very good or simply wierd and therefore good as a result. I purchased and chose them based off reviews from various horror sights. This year, ghosthouse again has released a few flicks (four actually) and this was rated the second best out of the group. With its star of Amy Smart, cool box cover, and one of the two directors/writers of the Blair Witch film (Ed Sanchez), I picked it up on sale first week of release. Sanchez did a pretty decent film called Altered a few years back so I hoped this one would be as good.
The first half of the film we find out our couple are on their honeymoon in China. The husband's family was/is of Chinese ancestry and he has various family still there. During their time there, a festival of the seventh moon is occurring in which superstition says that the dead are freed from hell on the seventh full moon of the year. As with our Halloween, this festival is a bit similar though more a fair/carnival feel. Anyways, after their fun in the city they head out with their tour guide to the rural section of China to visit the husband's relatives. The trip takes much longer than expected and by the time the tour guide gets lost, it is already dark as night and out in the farms/hills of rolling China, there are no street lights. Eventually they come to a darkened village and the tour guide decides to go ask one of the town folk where they are. This is the beginning of the setup for our movie.
So far so good, right? Well, unfortunately problems begin on three levels. The first and foremost is the camera. The entire film is filmed with a shakey-cam which can sometimes work (see Mulberry Street, Blair Witch, Cloverfield, etc.) but here it is horrible. And there is a reason! Because of the second major problem of this film: night filming. The entire film is in complete darkness. We do not have the filmed at dusk and then digitally darkening the film. Nor do we have night filming with backlighting. It is supposed to be full moon and yet still, no light. With a shaky cam and complete darkness, it is disorienting and terribly hard to follow a lot of the film. This really ruined the enjoyment factor of the film for me.
The third and final fault was the last third of the screenplay. It was not written well at all and we get some sequences that may or may not be dream sequences, that end up causing almost as much confusion for the viewer as the darkness/shakey-cam, and bring complete hault to what was a very suspenseful and action oriented mystery-horror flick.
Though the camera and darkness ruined a lot of the enjoyment, the story was pretty good and had its shocks and scares. The rural part of China and the items used to make suspense worked unbelievabley well ("what was that in the street", a gong like windchime (similar to a church bell), animals crying in the darkness, etc.) But then this grinding halt in the screenplay and what turned out to be a somewhat sappy ending made this film simply mediocre. I really wanted to love this film but unfortunately I only enjoyed it. Is it worth seeing, sure, but don't get your hopes up. Enjoy it for what it is: a technically flawed film with a mediocre third act that had a lot of promise in its rolling hills and its rural village in a far away land, a supernatural occurrance, no where to run/hide, and a nightmare of a night for a young American couple."
A Few Good Scares, An Overall Good Film
Siklootd | Santa Fe, NM | 01/05/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Being a major fan of horror films I am always looking to expand my collection. Upon seeing this film at my local store I decided to give it a try. Past Ghosthouse films have had a wide range of delivery in my opinion. Some of these films can range from good and scary, to more bland and cliche resulting in no scares and a tediously drawn out and complicated story. Well I was quite surprised with "Seventh Moon".
The story takes place in China, where a couple is spending their honeymoon together. They hear about a cultural practice and learn about what happens during the full moon of the seventh lunar month. They are told that the dead are free to roam the Earth on this day and sacrifices must be made to please the spirits. This holiday is actually culturally correct. It is called "The Ghost Festival" and occurs on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month in China. This celebration is also known as "Ghost Day" and citizens of China actually believe that their deceased relatives are free to return to Earth for this one day, much like the Mexican tradition known as "Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)". This film builds upon that concept of the dead returning, but elaborates into also suggesting that demons are free to roam the Earth as well.
Focusing on the newly wed couple, the film depicts how desperate the two become when face to face with the moon demons. It seems as if everywhere the couple turns, the demons are close behind, and with none of the locals willing to lend a helping hand, the couple must fight for survival on their own. The story progresses from a large city to a small field and ends at a cemetery/monastery building. The wide variety of scenery is well done and the acting is top notch, allowing you to feel the terror that the people feel when being attacked by "Moon Demons".
During the first 20 minutes of the film, I was not able to view anything. Initially, I found the image was too dark, seeing how the majority of the filming was done in complete darkness, thus not allowing the audience to view the action, or even the actors on screen. I solved this problem by switching my TV's contrast to a more optimal setting and was able to see everything 100%. Once this problem was corrected, I simply restarted the film using the brighter screen resolution, and the film was much easier to view, and was much more enjoyable as well. So, with that problem solved I was able to fully enjoy watching the film and must say that I really enjoyed it once I was able to actually view it.
The story was great, the thrills were decent, and the acting and environment was spectacular. If you are a fan of horror films I believe you will enjoy this movie, just make sure you change your TVs viewing settings to a preset contrast with brighter resolution and you'll be fine."
Intriguing premise, flawed execution
z hayes | TX | 03/10/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm originally from Southeast Asia (Singapore/Malaysia) and am quite familiar with the significance of the Seventh Month of the Chinese calendar, its rituals, and superstitions. When I saw this at the rental store, I decided to give it a try as it sounded promising. Well, to say i was disappointed is an understatement... the movie is badly shot and the story, though initially promising, quickly sinks into a mess of a movie, the only saving grace being the lead actress (Amy Smart).
The story begins with a honeymooning couple. Amy Smart plays a newlywed who is on honeymoon somewhere in China with her Asian American husband who still has roots in China. They procure the services of a benign looking and friendly guide to take them into the Chinese countryside so that they can visit the husband's relatives. Hours later, the wife wakes up to find that their car is stranded in the middle of the countryside in a village, and it's dark. The guide tells her they are lost and that he will get help and return as soon as he can. An hour later, there is no sign of the guide, and so the newlyweds scramble out of the car and go in search of him. Before long, they discover that all is not as it should be and there are sinister goings-on - strange chiming sounds reverberate through the night, animals are tied up as some sort of offering, and they return to their car to find it has been splashed with some sort of bloody substance of indeterminate origin! This is no ordinary night either - it is the night of the full moon on the seventh month of the Lunar calendar where the spirits of the dead are released from the gates of Hell and visit the living, feasting on the offerings, and in this case, expecting something more substantial.
Sounds like a great horror story right? Well, it could have been, except that the movie is shot mostly in the dark with insufficient background lighting which makes it hard to make out what exactly is going on. The creature effects are average, but the jerky camera movements really make this an annoying and frustrating viewing experience. The acting by the guy playing the husband was sub-par, and only Amy Smart delivers a credible performance as the anguished and horrified wife trying to figure out how to get themselves out of the mess. Final verdict - barely watchable, with not many surprises. If you'd like to watch movies that focus on the seventh month and/or the supernatural, then check out:
Chinese Ghost Story
Rouge (Limited Remastered DTS Edition) DVD