Apparently the Pang brothers are well regarded by horror fans and I can only hope that that means their previous offerings are better than this. Not that this is, as such, a bad film; more that it’s a half-baked effort, mostly coming across as a bit of standard-but-creepy Asian horror stapled poorly to a dull-as-ditchwater Hollywood thriller.

The plot is one we’ve seen before – nuclear family moves into spooooooky old farm house where sinister murders occurred years before (we see these in black-and-white flashback, a scene that includes an intriguingly invisible entity which unfortunately we never hear from again). The teenage daughter and toddler son seem to be the only ones who can sense anything amiss, but unfortunately the family cannot leave since their fortunes are tied up with the summer’s sunflower-seed harvest.

Copy picture

The entities in the film are genuinely scary if familiar to fans of Asian horror. They’re as rotted and putrid-looking as Sadako from Ring and move in jerky fashion that will be recognised by anyone who has played Konami’s Silent Hill series or seen the accompanying movie. At first their presence seems to hint at an interesting supernatural element to the proceedings, but unfortunately most of the movie’s promise is never realised. There are ravens attacking folk for some unspecified reason, and for some reason the spirits never actually seem to attack the person they are supposedly seeking vengeance on until the very last possible moment. In fact there are so many ways in which the film didn’t quite make sense I’d have to type out the whole plot in order to explain.

The characters are pretty much unremarkable, and there are no performances that are bad (or, sadly, good) enough to stand out. This movie is apparently being marketed to teenagers using the premise that “children and young people can see what adults cannot”, which, having seen the movie, doesn’t actually tally much with the plot, and seems like a tacked-on marketing strategy to elevate it beyond mediocre status.

I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed the creepy manifestations of the first half of the film, since that kind of horror is precisely what I like, but I was severely disappointed by the ending which is cliché and generic in the extreme.

Reviewed on: 20 Feb 2007
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When their family moves into an isolated farmhouse, teenager Jess and her toddler brother begin to notice creepy things no-one else can see...
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Chris ***

Director: Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang

Writer: Mark Wheaton, Todd Farmer

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, Evan Turner, Theodore Turner, William B. Davis

Year: 2007

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


Glasgow 2007

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