After three years of living in Shanghai, Sarah (Jaime King – ‘Sin City’, ‘The Spirit’), Jason and their son, Sammy, go home to North America for a family funeral. However, on their return something unexpected and terrifying begins to grip this once happy family: Sammy starts to tell Sarah that he is seeing phantoms and ghosts, and before long he falls gravely ill.
With traditional western medicine offering little hope, Sarah turns desperately to a mysterious pharmacist who warns that her son is being held in the death grip of a “living corpse.” To save her child, Sarah must find out what the spirits want before they take his soul for their own purposes.
With time running out, Sarah has a single day until the sun rises on the last day of the Chinese month of the ghost, or Sammy will be lost forever. The spirits have spoken their deadly warning.
This is a Canadian horror movie from the creators of ‘White Noise’ and ‘Alone in the dark’; this is quite an entertaining and original piece of cinema. There are a few really scary jumps in the movie, and the story is interesting and plays out well, relying more on psychological fears than gore or blood; even though there are a few scary spirits.
The story, surrounding the Chinese tradition of ‘Ghost Month’ is a really interesting take on the horror/thriller genre, because it’s true. The Ghost Festival is a traditional Chinese festival and holiday, which is celebrated by Chinese in many countries. In the Chinese calendar (a lunisolar calendar), the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh lunar month. In Chinese tradition, the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day and the seventh month in general is regarded as the Ghost Month, in which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. During the Qingming Festival the living descendants pay homage to their ancestors and on Ghost Day, the deceased visit the living.
The fact that the story is embedded with a fascinating truth adds depth and fear to the story. The movie flows well, and opens even more doors to Chinese culture.
Jaime King stars in the title role as Sarah, and though I’m usually a fan of her work, her acting just doesn’t come across strong enough in this movie as it has done in her comic book movie roles. The actor who steals the show in this movie is Regan Oey, who plays her son, Sammy, who at only age nine delivers an amazing performance and is extremely endearing to the audience. The movie mostly relies around these two characters, and their relationship, which comes across well.
The special effects are creepy and odd, but are very reminiscent of ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Grudge’, in fact, this feels like the Chinese equivalent of one of the Japanese horror hits. Especially with the main, vengeful spirit being a creepy Chinese girl with blood on her face and long black hair.
This plays as more of a thriller/ghost story, and it’s refreshing to see an original horror movie being released. Not for hard core gore fans, but if you like a good ghost story then this is a good movie.