Blair Witch co-creator Eduardo Sanchez continues to strip away his characters’ sense of ease and confidence in his third film, which captures the horrors that befall a pair of newlyweds honeymooning in China. Melissa (Amy Smart) and Yul (Tim Chiou) are enjoying the Hungry Ghost Festival immensely, but their hosts think they’re enjoying it too much. Soon, the couple is abandoned in the middle of nowhere — but they’re far from being alone.
“Seventh Moon” falls into a nice mix of hybrid. Which is that it isn’t exactly an Asian movie and it isn’t exactly not. While the the scenery, traditions, folklore and location are set in China, we focus more on the 2 visiting american newlyweds who have arrived for fun and sightseeing. This itself presents a well collected mix which is still able to leverage off old traditions but place the viewers more in line with the main characters and theirfrustrations.
Ghost month is an age honored tradition in which it is said that on the Seventh moon the gates of hell are unlocked temporarily for the dead to roam free. This idea has been explored in other films I’ve seen but respectfully it drives the idea home pretty effectively.
Our main characters are Yul (Tim Chiou) and Melissa (Amy Smart). Yul is the chinese husband who is more american really than traditional chinese. Amy Smart adds the needed balance which adds that “we’re not from here” feeling through out. They like most travelers, take in the sights, joke about odd customs and approach most of it all in on a “this is weird” humorous note.
Though what they find is that the customs are for real whether they believe them or not. When they meet up with cousin Ping (Dennis Chan), all seems to be going well until the long journey into the country begins to become a middle of nowhere situation. Ping who stops to ask for directions, never returns.
A hour later, Mel and Yul figure something has happened to him and head out. This begins the oddities in which they first encounter as random animal sacrifices combined with returning to a blood drenched car. Seeing that they’d rather not stick around for the details, they head out on their own. The appearance of a naked white painted man running in front of the car is not what they expected to see …especially this time of night. At this point in the film the phrase” your not in Kansas anymore” begins to really take hold. The 2 lost and confused in the nights endless roads begin the experience of these beings the locals call “night demons”. They also realize that the demons are out for blood. A night of chasing, running and “what the crap is going on” continues as the effects of ghost month come at them full force. If the gates of hell have truly opened, then they have a whole mess of demons to deal with in stoe for them.
Now the one complaint which to some is just part of the movie style is the usage of shaky video cameras. This is not just an effect but used throughout most of the movie. The idea I got from it was to obscure the demons more and the chaos of the moments. As many times these are chase or running scenes so this helps to disguise the demons more in a supernatural ambiguous presence. For that I completely understand and was fine with the approach. But as a consumer I know this will be an area of others discontent. Another odd choice was that in the 3rd act much the filmed footage is in a cave or in the dark. There is 2 ways of looking at this, which is the dark adds mystery and tension for viewers. The other flip of the coin is you just can’t seen alot of what going on. Myself I would have liked to have been able to see a bit more.
Director Eduardo Sánchez has really capture the essence of what he set out to do. Eduardo Sánchez, if you recall was one of the 2 directors for Blair Witch, and then the later film “Altered” ..a pretty slick film in itself.
The demons are effective and even though the rapid camera movement begins to weigh heavily it still emphasizes the effectiveness of the obscured demons. Vicious, ravaging, fast and enigmatic ……we as viewers also really sense the displacement on a culture not of our own that it presented here.
The film “Seventh Moon” offers plenty of suspense, vicious ness and a slice of weird that makes it its own beast. Viewers will be sliced down the middle as to what they get from it but I thought it was a pretty slick horror adventure. As one of the Ghost House Underground films, it stands on its own and does what it attempts to do. Provides chills, thrills and cultural awareness.
Seventh Moon (2008)