Death Curse (古宅心慌慌)

A “horror” movie, possibly because Twins and Boy’z share a double billing. I imagine the movie gods over at EEG and Co are running out of ways to stuff multiple stars in a film so they’ve come up with this delicious slice of stupid. Charlene Choi plays sassy (read: bitchy) Ding Si who regularly lashes out at the adoring mail man (Laurence Chou) who regularly reads her mail. They find that her father whom she has never met has summoned her to a family reunion. On arriving at his massive estate out in the boondocks, she discovers a gaggle of her brothers and sisters (you guessed it, the other Twin, Boy’z, plus Raymond Wong and others) previously unknown to her. Unfortunately, the happiness is cut short because their father has just died. This hardly affects Ah Si, however, who is just angling for her inheritance. Enter Lawyer Cheung played by Alex Fong – as in his first name is Lawyer – who’s executing the will. He informs the brood that Papa Ding left them oodles of money, the estate, and some fruit trees but that they must partake in a few crazy rituals before anyone gets their share, namely gathering at midnight for the next seven days to light incense and then hugging each other. Yes, hugging each other. This pleases some of the lot, like Ding Bat (Steven Cheung) and Ding Ling (Gillian Chung), who just want everyone to get along. Hothead Ding Lik (Raymond Wong) meanwhile is the male answer to Ah Si; he would rather bond with his father’s money than with his siblings. Then there is the other Boy(‘z), Ah Mo (Kenny Kwan), whose main purpose is to throw in some cracks about an unintentionally incestuous relationship between him and Ah Si a few summers back.

The movie quickly vaults into juvenile horror that mostly involves hallucinations and Papa Ding’s dead body, which for some reason is propped in a chair in what appears to be an air conditioned cabin. Nothing happens in the way of plot much less characterization for the next hour. No one seems to give a rip about their dead daddy, and they instead tumble from one creepy hijinks to another. The scares are pretty generic and inconsequential and could have been shuffled or replaced entirely. The only thing that saved this movie was a somewhat predictable ending done with such cheeky relish that I couldn’t help cracking a few smiles. The last twenty minutes delivered on the promise of an intriguing albeit ridiculous premise of a family reunion between pubescent strangers. Alright, delivered might be a bit strong, but the climax goes the distance with some of the movie’s absurdities. At one point, the guys find themselves literally going crazy in a locked cage. A somewhat incapacitated Si has the antidote – honey – but is just out of reach. She nevertheless manages to dip her foot in it which means, yes, a couple of rabid boys must lick honey off Charlene Choi’s toes. Also, the requisite feel-good popstar ending is achieved and mostly palatable because the mush factor dissipates quickly. Still, the movie straddles spoof and pseudo-seriousness without settling on either or on a consistent middle ground. That probably suits the EEG crowd but means this horror-comedy on training wheels is passable fare for the rest.

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