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GHOST MONTH
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Reviewed by: Pat Torfe

Directed by: Danny Draven

Starring:
Marina Resa
Shirley To
Akiko Shima
Jerod Edington

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about

Coming off a relationship with a psycho ex (Jerod Edington), city girl Alyssa (Marina Resa) takes a housekeeping job out of town, effectively cutting herself off from the city. Alyssa's employers are Miss Wu (Shirley To) and her almost completely silent aunt (Akiko Shima), and their huge house. Of course, being Chinese, they have some rules and customs that take some getting used to for Alyssa, namely Ghost Month. Seems that the seventh month is like the Chinese version of Halloween, where the spirits of the wrongfully deceased enter the land of the living, and the Wu women perform nightly rituals in order to keep the spirits happy. Unfortunately for Alyssa, she makes the mistake of undoing one of the rituals. Guess what happens next.

Is it good movie?

Just when you thought the Asian-themed horror films were dying down, along comes GHOST MONTH. Directed by Danny Draven and liberally borrowing ideas (unknowingly or not) from a Singaporean horror flick called THE MAID, I expected to see the film devolve into ripping off THE GRUDGE. Thankfully the film stayed out of that part of the city. Instead, what I got was something that was a mixed bag, which is a shame, given the unique premise.

Given Draven's experience as an editor and cinematographer, the dude gives us quite the visual experience with GHOST MONTH. Going the route of subtle spookiness with lighting and shadows, as well as the use of effective editing, is a welcome break from having a barrage of jump cuts being thrown your way. Unfortunately, the visual effects are less than impressive, making the thing feel like a made-for-TV deal at times. As for the score (done by co-producer and wife of Danny, Jojo Draven), it helps contribute to the uneasy atmostphere of the film, it never relents for an extended period to allow for quiet to set in.

The film starts to falter when you get to things like the dialogue and the acting. Sometimes when you get a lousy script, you can rely on your actors to salvage things. That's of course if you have strong actors. Despite being cute and looking like a younger Jennifer Connelly, Marina Resa didn't exactly wow me with her stuff. Neither did Shirley To, even while tied up (seriously, when you groan, don't make it sound like you're constipated). About the only actor who didn't blow it entirely was Akiko Shima. Then again, she had next to no dialogue. The final hammer hit to this film is the pacing, which goes by quite nicely at the start, but slows to a crawl once the film nears its conclusion. This also has the unfortunate effect of making the lousy dialogue that much more annoying.

Normally I'd be tearing a film like this a new one, but for some reason, I can't. Despite the bad effects and script, I was kind of hoping that the film would eventually redeem itself in the end. The film had potential to be a creepy ghost story that didn't involve Sam Raimi and Sarah Michelle Gellar, thanks in large part to the concept and Draven's shot composition. Ultimately though, it didn't get to that. Chalk it up as a 'rent it and forget it' film.

Video / Audio

Video: Being a screener, it's not right to grade the transfer.

Audio: Screener. Not fair to judge the final release.

The Extras

The only extra for the screener is the film's trailer, which starts up as soon as you put the disc in. Apparently, the retail DVD contains a featurette, commentary and other stuff.

Last Call

Looks nice and has a unique premise, but lets lame effects, lousy dialogue and so-so acting bring it down. Think of it as the poor man's version of THE GRUDGE. But even then, that's kind of setting it up for a fall.

ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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