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The Ghost Within

Film One Star

This Chinese film, The Ghost Within, was described as J-horror when introduced at the Dead by Dawn festival, and that wasn't a good move for me as I hate that label, what exactly does it refer to and why does it describe an entire genre? However this film really struggles to rise above that limiting concept.

The performances are overacted and the story overplayed. There are some good ideas though, but they are buried under poor direction, lingering shots, over acting and some poor plot decisions.

I'm not sure what direction the poor actress was given, but she did a good job of looking at the end of her tether and out of her depth. Unfortunately there were so many scenes where she just looked lost and unsure what to do. One scene looked particularly amusing when the character she expected to be standing next to her isn't there when she turns around. She's standing in a very narrow hallway and her direction has obviously been to look around for them. Give her some dues, she does try and look around but with walls all around her it does look kind of pathetic.

The ultimate low point for me though was almost at the end of the film when the mother and daughter have a large amount of onscreen dialogue, standing facing a wall. This scene obviously some form of resolution or explanation between the characters, however there aren't any subtitles! You just sit there watching nothing happen in a foreign language, and it does go on for some time. Okay, that could be down to the copy we had, and I hope it is, but that was really frustrating.

There are some pretty poorly filmed and directed moments which really kill a scare or atmospheric moment. For example the opening of a cupboard to reveal something has the camera building up to the opening only to hastily turn to the woman opening the doors and not to the cupboard, the reveal comes moments after, totally killing any surprise or scare.

However I have to say that the ghost of the mother is particularly spooky, and they do a good job of presenting her as a scary character.

Overall though this is a very poor copy of so many other far better Asian horrors, and to be honest you'd be much better watching one of them instead of this.




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Movable Type 3.34