There is a difference between Eduardo Sanchez’s 1999 Blair Witch Project and Seventh Moon. While they share the camera style, someone was behind the camera in Blair Witch. The camera was a character, much like the person holding it.
Here, the nauseating, constantly moving camera is disconnected from the characters. It moves away from them to find perfect angles. It is a weird distraction that pulls some of the tension from the already lackluster action in Seventh Moon. If a character were holding the device, it would at least offer some explanation as to why its movement is so erratic.
As it stands, the camera is there to hide, not to show. Seventh Moon is based on the Chinese legend of the Ghost Month, also featured in another sub-par horror film with that very name. Here though, Amy Smart plays Melissa, on her honeymoon in China. Her Chinese husband Yul (Tim Chiou) takes her around the city to view the festivities as the month begins.
That night, their driver is suddenly lost on an unspecified road, and their attempt to look for him is immediately problematic as the souls of the dead begin seeking a sacrifice. If the souls look familiar, that is because you’ve seen The Descent, a similar film to Seventh Moon in terms of its creatures, especially by its third act.
Here Amy Smart traverses a cave looking for her missing husband, with the only light being from her cell phone. This final sequence is the only one carrying any tension, one where the camera is allowed to slow down and feed on the fear in Smart’s face. The haphazard style fails to focus elsewhere, leaving the attacks bland or completely incoherent. Seventh Moon’s desperate search for thrills is its undoing.
While the opening credits are bright and colorful (to the point of bleeding), the rest of Seventh Moon is oppressively dark. Video noise is unbearable at times, making it hard to discern what the viewer is supposed to be seeing. Black levels are surprisingly strong, if not as rich as they could be.
Detail is rare, mostly confined to earlier scenes. Drenched in darkness, sharpness is limited, and hidden behind the noise. The AVC encode has little to work with, and the digital source is the obvious culprit.
A DTS-HD 5.1 mix is far more acceptable, even great. Subtle audio cues including voices yelling at the couple in a rundown town are impressive. Insects screech in all channels. Dogs bark in the surrounds as the characters search for the source.
When the attack begins, the creatures pound on the car providing wonderful bass. Their stomping also hits all channels. Front speaker separation is excellent. The finale is exceptional, with water splashing and dripping, adding that extra piece to make the sequence work as well as it does.
Eduardo Sanchez and Amy Smart provide a commentary, which is followed by a nice fly-on-the-wall making of entitled Ghosts of Hong Kong. The Pale Figures details the creatures, from inspirations to finding the right actors.
Mysteries of the Seventh Lunar Month is pulled from a VHS, detailing the Chinese Ghost Month traditions. The usual round of trailers and promos for Lionsgate’s Ghost House Underground series are left.