22nd Jan2015

‘Ghost Bride’ Review

by Mark Allen

Stars: Yoson An, Rebekah Palmer, Fiona Feng, Catheryn Wu, Geeling Ng, Charles Chan, Ian Mune | Written and Directed by David Blyth


I get a perverse  thrill out of terrible dialogue in movies. You know what I mean – the kind of cliched, hackneyed writing that sounds like it came right out of some washed-up actor’s mouth on a cheap cardboard set in a parody of old Hollywood. The thrilling part, you see, is that it’s more entertaining when the actors reciting the dreadful lines (and usually the filmmakers putting words in their mouths) don’t actually know that what they’re saying is utter tripe.

“You look like you’ve just seen a ghost!” one character exclaims to another at one point. That point being immediately after she’s just seen a ghost. That’s totally my jam.

As you can probably tell, I had rather a lot of fun with Ghost Bride. But not because it was any good.

The story begins with our ‘hero’ Jason working a terrible job he sucks at and living with his overbearing Chinese mother in a sleepy New Zealand town. I assume it’s sleepy because there don’t seem to be any inhabitants other than the main characters. Despite Jason having no ambition, backbone or discernible personality, he has a Kiwi girlfriend, Skye, who he wants to marry. His mother would rather be tied the knot with an Asian girl and decides to arrange a marriage so that his dead father won’t be disappointed, although a wedding band sure as hell won’t fix his crippling lack of charisma.

Naturally, the couple she enlists to set up the marriage between Jason and the deathly pale and seemingly mute May-Ling feed the groom-to-be some psychedelics and he passes out. After a stretched-out dream sequence involving May-Ling appearing as a ghost, Jason awakes and remembers he’s supposed to be in a horror movie so decides to act both ambiguously weirded out and head-thumpingly stupid for the remainder of the film. Some of his actions include: not telling Skye about the arranged marriage he supposedly doesn’t want a part of but complies with anyway; proposing to Skye before his mother even knows he has a girlfriend; and committing baffling acts of violence then acting like someone else did it.

Aside from the occasional glimpse of the ghostly form of May-Ling in a mirror or the shower (which, sidenote, features in the film solely to showcase Skye’s buttocks), that’s pretty much the trajectory of the movie: Jason performing contrived actions to give the illusion of conflict.

I’d like to say the acting elevates the writing somewhat, but unfortunately most of the cast seem like they just came from an unsuccessful soap audition (though they are given very little to work with, admittedly). As a result of this, the laboured storytelling and the dull visual aesthetic, Ghost Bride quickly becomes an exercise in tedium barely lifted by the hackneyed jump scares that pepper the running time. Matters aren’t helped by a droning, vaguely menacing score that persists throughout and prevents the film from having either any sense of subtlety or the chance to raise and lower the tension. We’re always on the same level, and that might not be so bad if it weren’t so damn boring. Really, I expected more from a filmmaker who’d directed four episodes of Power Rangers back in the ’90s.

In the end – yes, there is an ending! – things are resolved in the least satisfying way possible and we’re given a twist that beggars belief in terms of credibility, even for a film called Ghost Bride. I won’t give it away, but I will say this: Jason gets married twice, and he’s not technically alive for either of the ceremonies. The incredible part is not that he’s had his heart removed and manages to survive what seems like a full week before finally keeping over (okay so maybe I am spoiling it and yes that does actually happen), but that anyone’s impressed enough by Jason and his monotone whining that they’d want to marry him at all.

Ghost Bride is out now. In fact, she’s right behind you!


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