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  Death Curse, The Gillian and Charlene visit a haunted house
Year: 2003
Director: Soi Pou Cheang
Stars: Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Steven Cheung, Kenny Kwan, Alex Fong, Raymond Wong, Lawrence Chou, Qiu Lier, Zhou Bou, Sun Xixo Yan, Alex Fong, Sun Le Qiu
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shortly before he passes away, billionaire recluse Ting Jihuai organizes a reunion of his long-lost children. Self-centred Nancy (Charlene Choi) travels to Ting’s ancestral rural home and discovers a gaggle of siblings she never knew existed. Born of six different mothers (maybe Ting died of exhaustion), they include: lovable Linda (Gillian Chung), big-hearted Ben (Steven Cheung), triad poseur Nick (Raymond Wong), creepy eldest brother Andy (Zhou Bou), single mother Deon (Sun Xixo Yan) who brought along her little girl Fanny (Qiu Lier), and - horror of horrors - Nancy’s ex-boyfriend, Jerry (Kenny Kwan). Lawyer Cheung (Alex Fong) informs the squabbling siblings they are each entitled to a share of Ting’s $125 million fortune (plus six hundred fruit trees). However, there are conditions.

As per tradition, over the next seven days, at precisely midnight, the children must honour their father’s corpse - which sits upon a golden throne in the courtyard. Immediately afterwards, they have to hug and profess their love for each other, something the more selfish among them find incredibly awkward. As Ben and Linda struggle to keep their newfound family together, and Nancy and Jerry dodge their incestuous attraction, things go from bad to worse. It turns out Ting’s mansion is haunted. A murderous maniac stalks the siblings, Fanny goes missing, Andy goes psycho, Linda starts hearing voices, and creepy ghost-kids giggle in the dark. Zoinks!

Following the monster success of The Twins’ Effect (2003), producers concocted another supernatural-themed romp featuring pop twosome Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi. Here, in a bid to beguile even more Hong Kong teenyboppers, they’re paired with their male Cantopop equivalents, Boyz (Steven Cheung and Kenny Kwan) in a lightweight, but amiable mixture of creepy Asian horror, teen comedy hijinks and wacky, Scooby-Doo plotting. The mostly whiny, self-obsessed teen heroes are a letdown and Charlene Choi is uncharacteristically unappealing as bitchy, petulant Nancy. But Gillian Chung continues to develop as a dramatic actress (especially when Linda recalls her personal demons) and Steven Cheung proves charismatic. Director Soi Pou Cheang previously helmed the interesting, Blair Witch styled, Horror Hotline: Big-Headed Monster (2001) and the well-received New Blood (2002). Hardcore horror fans might be unimpressed with this effort, but the film turns deliciously creepy on occasion and boasts one fine scare when it appears the entire cast has been slaughtered before our astonished eyes. Shot in Thailand, the spooky mansion is full of creeping vines, dark corridors, and death traps lending it that Hanna-Barbera vibe. Much of the humour sits well, rooted in the siblings’ obvious unease with their surroundings and each other. The script deals surprisingly well with themes of family, tradition and reconciliation and against the odds, offers a warm-hearted scene where brothers and sisters enact the ritual once more, only this time they really mean it. An eventful climax manages to be thrilling and funny, with an appropriate “It was you all along!” unmasking of the villain. Put some glasses on Gillian, Charlene in a purple mini-dress and throw in a talking dog, and this would have been perfect.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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