Let’s not beat around the bush. This film is a Star vehicle for our lovely little Canto-pop stars, Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung aka Twins so that alone lends itself to somewhat low expectations. Which is odd because their two previous cinematic outings together, Just One Look and The Twins Effect, have actually been quite a bit of fun to watch. So is The Death Curse third time unlucky?
Well no, not really. Like The Twins Effect we have a film that is really just a bit of light fluff that has its entertaining moments and, somewhat appropriately for a horror film, has its scary moments as well. Of course, being mindless entertainment, there is really little substance to the film with the plot following almost religiously to the stock-standard campfire stories involving a haunted house.
But then, that is also part of its charm. The fact the film is conscious that it is entirely derivative just lets itself have fun with the material. From the family gathering that slowly dissolves (with the less ‘cool’ members being offed first) to the imposing mysterious castle with a storm brewing in the backdrop.
Soi Cheang does a pretty decent job of getting that creepiness across with some good use of music and lighting. Early on, he uses a speeded up camera technique in introducing the interior of said haunted house that is quite effective in detaching it from reality though I have to really start to question the current fashion of using children as monsters (Kids are creepy. Fine we get the point. Time to move on). Another problem was the somewhat rushed resolution as compared to the pacing of the rest of the film. It seems they realise they only have about 20 minutes left of their alloted 90 so they introduce a convenient plot element that just ties everything up.
In terms of performances, this really is more Charlene’s film more than Gillian. Her sassy character is the central character in the film and she carries it well enough though watching some of her unapologetic over acting is just painful early on. Gillian plays a much more supporting role as per normal and is her usual demure, quiet non-presence self. As for everyone else… I did mention this is a star vehicle, right?
(OK. Fine. I admit it. I am a hack and I have absolutely no idea who anybody else is. Charlene’s initial love interest – who I think was also in Twins Effect – was just there to look pretty and brood and the Triad brother was hammed sufficiently to make him amusing comic relief. It also seems the best way to make kid actors do a decent job is to have them not do anything emotionally related at all and just be the epitomy of stoicism)
So all up, Death Curse is a bit of mindless fun with the occasional scare to stop it from devolving into a complete farce. Predictable and cliched yet comforting and entertaining at the same time.