Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weeks Too Late: Seventh Moon

Seventh Moon. Directed by Eduardo Sanchez & Written by Eduardo Sanchez and Jamie Nash.

: Well, I hadn't gotten the claws out in a while and last week reminded me how fun it is to sharpen them on poor, unsuspecting (but deserving) backs of something abysmal. It's also been a long time since I gave in to my love/hate relationship with horror (the genre hasn't come knocking at my door, drunk, at 2am in some time now). So, after realizing that some essential DVD cords were in another room (so very, very lazy), I postponed my Miyazaki-fest and had a look at the horror section in the old Netflix Streaming queue.

Apparently, Ghost House Pictures has branched off into a direct to DVD market that is trying to be edgy and cool. This is happening under the name of Ghost House Underground. It sounded perfect. Ghost House Pictures were the geniuses who re-made the Grudge into a slick, bloodless (well metaphorically) typical yawn-fest of a horror movie. I rubbed my hands together and waited to enjoy being a jerk.

General Review
: Once again, horror has disappointed me....but in a good way, for a change. Instead of pushing me down the stairs, it did the laundry and told me my hair looked nice (and this metaphor is getting stranger and stranger the longer I write this blog). Seventh Moon was good. The break down of the story is standard, newly married couple find themselves in an isolated area and chased by monsters, but the movie deserves more credit than this dismissive summary.

There were a lot of directorial choices I admired, the main one being our
monsters. The Hungry Ghosts start out as nothing more than white blurs that we can barely make out and as the movie progresses we slowly get to see them better and better. This isn't particularly unusual for a horror flick, but what is strange is that they're cool throughout. We don't have the crushing disappointment of the monsters looking dumb, or the more acceptable (but still cock tease-y) let down of never getting to see much of anything. I'd usually post a picture of them in this paragraph but I don't want to spoil it for you. Trust me you'll enjoy them.

The scariness didn't just hinge on the monsters being cool, however. There are some very unsettling scenes, the best of which was a claustrophobic, almost Caitlin R. Kiernan-esque, walk through a cave lit only by a cellphone. Not to mention a rather good, colourful, Wickerman-like sequence at the very beginning.

It isn't all a primrose path for Sanchez however. This guy did direct the Blair Witch Project, after all (which I have a big ol' soft spot for, it was experimental and cool at the time!). Be prepared for my favourite and yours, the nausea inducing, shake-i-cam technology. Those of you who've been reading the blog for a while have been sprayed up and down with the vitriol I feel for this particular stylistic choice. While I will gracelessly admit it's wholly appropriate (though irritating) in a movie that's supposed to be entirely made up of footage taken from an actual hand held camera, it causes me nothing but hate and illness when I see it in a movie that has an omniscient cameraman. Enough said.

The fact that much of the movie was blacker than the blackest black times infinity also started to wear on me. Yes, it occasionally added tension and yes, it was trying something that was sometimes effective and cool, but there were parts of the third act that might as well have been a radio play. Moments of darkness can be used effectively and sometimes they were, but Sanchez was far too liberal with his use of them. And since I can't seem to cram this in anywhere else: the sex scene felt forced, pointless and gratuitous (which is weird since it was so tame, not the usual breast flash of 80's horror).

Once again, I've gotten so into the directing that I've basically forgotten about the actors, which is entirely their own fault. The performance given by the leads was competent and not one iota more talented than that. Occasionally, Amy Smart's nasal nag irritated me and occasionally Tim Chiou's vacant cow stare did the same. Neither of them were spectacular and there wasn't a ton of chemistry, but they weren't bad enough to really slam either.

The entire sound crew, on the other hand, from composers to editors to folly folks deserve a confetti throwing party. No kidding. With a petting zoo. The more movies I see the weirder I'm getting about score, lack of score and sound in general. This movie nailed it. Score was used extremely sparingly and it enhanced rather than distracted. Oh and the sound effects were shudder worthy, very spooky, visceral stuff.

Seventh Moon wasn't what I was expecting. It's the first scary movie I've seen in a long while that felt like horror and not like dull same-y pap. While it hasn't reminded me of everything good and right with horror, I did enjoy it. What's more, it's gotten me interested to see what else Ghost House Underground has to offer. If the rest of the catalog lives up to this offering, I may have found something to fill the hole in my heart that Master of Horror being canceled left.

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