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.