American Melissa finally talked Yul, her Chinese boyfriend, into marrying her. So hey, screw Hawaii and their stupid dolphins — let’s honeymoon in China during the Hungry Ghost Festival! Their timing couldn’t be better. Not only is it the Hungry Ghost Festival, but one that lands on the seventh lunar month. And there’s a full moon, which, as everyone knows, adds a little something extra to the party dip.
A tour guide takes Mel and Yul one million miles out into the rural countryside to visit Yul’s relatives. It’s late, it’s dark and they’re lost. Or so the guide says. He gets out of the car to “find help” and doesn’t come back! So much for his tip. After an hour the couple get out and go looking for him. What they find is a small village with all the doors and windows locked, chained and boarded up. (Why all the drama? All they had to do was hang “Do Not Disturb” signs on the door knobs.)
Then they happen across an offering party arrangement: candles, banners, festive lighting, chickens, dogs, supermarket-ready pigs — all dead or half eaten. Turns out the Hungry Ghost Festival is aptly named. When you’re free from Hell to roam the Earth during the seventh lunar moon, you’re gonna be pretty darn peck-ish.
Out of nowhere, white hairless/clothes-less ghouls with dark bloody mouths descend upon the hapless couple. Mel and Yul escape, only to end up at a spooky house covered in seasonal candles with chanting going on. The place is filled with people just standing there, not saying or doing anything. Yep, these people sure know how to party.
After drinking drugged tea, the couple are tied up in a bamboo cage outside where the ghouls show up for dinner where Yul is the main course. Melissa, though, is unharmed (she’s American and therefore not on the menu) and makes her way back to the house, only to find the guide that brought them here. He explains that every time the dead show up during the festival, they always take one of the living with them whether they want to go our not. That sucks.
The dead have taken Yul into a water-filled cave for his “final journey,” the ultimate last call. She goes to the cave, using only her cell phone as light, and encounters the ghouls, all standing silently, looking in one direction, which for once, isn’t at anything resembling food. She finds Yul chained up and he’s hairless, pasty-white with dark circles around his eyes and mouth. And yet she still wants to kiss him. Yuck is one of three things that just ran through my mind.
Seventh Moon (2008) has requisite tension and cool ghouls, but the camera work is so shaky as to give you the festival spins. And almost everything is shot in pitch black darkness, so it’s hard to see much of the action. Most of the movie is a chase scene, but it does have its party moments. Just don’t blame me if the dead don’t eat you — maybe they only have a taste for Chinese.