For some reason I can’t seem to remember the title for this film, even though I really dug it. I have some sort of mental block where it is concerned. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because what I THINK they should have titled the movie is what my mind has decided to remember it as, not by its actual title. THE HUNGRY GHOSTS would have been my choice, although SEVENTH MOON is just as appropriate. I keep recalling this one as GHOST MOON, though, or SEVEN GHOSTS, or, the most inexplicable, THIRTEEN MOONS. The latter I can only assume is due to some mental confabulation between the William Castle classic THIRTEEN GHOSTS and my recollection that this current film has the word “moon” somewhere in its name. Whatever. My point is, don’t let my inability to accurately recall this movie’s title—and yes, I had to google it to find it, even though I watched the flick not too long ago—mislead you into thinking the film is forgettable. Quite the contrary.
SEVENTH MOON is the creation of Eduardo Sanchez, the writer and co-director of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. Here Sanchez claims sole occupancy of the director’s chair, but he shares scripting credits with partner Jamie Nash. He proves he isn’t a one-trick pony, though, as SEVENTH MOON is at least as good as BLAIR WITCH, without the herky-jerky camcorder footage that is such a trial for sufferers of motion sickness. It delivers on the creepy, that’s for sure.
I enjoy whenever a Horror movie is able to inject a touch of the exotic into the formula, as is the case here. The premise of the film rests on the real folk superstition in China that, during the full moon of the seventh lunar month, the barriers between the living and the dead become permeable and the spirits of the dead are free to rampage across the earth.
These spirits are angry and hungry, and to appease them people leave plates of food and other offerings outside for their deceased ancestors. Such practices are especially common in the Chinese countryside, among the poorer citizenry. I honestly don’t know just how seriously the majority of the population of China takes this superstition today, but the rituals are still reenacted, whether more out of tradition or genuine fear.
The audience sees all this through the eyes of an American couple, newlyweds Melissa and Yul (who is of Chinese descent), which reinforces the stranger-in-a-strange-land sense of isolation and vulnerability permeating the film. The protagonists can’t understand or communicate with the locals and at first they don’t realize what’s happening to them when the hungry ghosts attack, seeking to drag the couple off to hell with them. It’s exactly the scenario you or I or any “outsider” might be expected to experience. That’s why it’s so unsettling.
None of this would work, though, if the ghosts weren’t convincing. They could have chosen to never show the spirits at all; that MIGHT have worked. BY choosing to give the Hungry Ghosts screen time, though, they had to make them look good, and they more than succeeded. These ghosts are as scary as any zombie or slavering beast.
Their visual effectiveness succeeds due to their believability. They look like what you would expect such a fiend to look like if you were ever unfortunate enough to encounter one.
As JAWS caused viewers to forevermore think twice before venturing into the ocean, SEVENTH MOON will make you reconsider visiting China. At least during the seventh lunar cycle. But if you do find yourself there during this time—don’t go out at night. And maybe throw some leftovers down outside your door, just to be on the safe side.
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