Death Curse, The

Death Curse, The

Rating: 7/10
Year: 2003
Genre: Horror
Director: Soi Cheang
Cast: Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Alex Fong, Raymond Wong, Kenny Kwan, Steven Cheung

With the positive critical responses of Horror Hotline: Big Head Monster and New Blood, Soi Cheang has successfully established his reputation as one of most gifted and promising young directors in HK who specializes in the horror genre. Judging from the title, it is not hard to expect his latest work The Death Curse to be another installment to his horror library, but then this time with pop idol Twins and Boy'z taking the lead roles, it is clear that things just turn out to be more complicated.

Similar to many HK-mainland co-productions, the majority of the movie was shot in mainland China. The story begins with Nancy (Charlene Choi) receiving a letter from his long lost father, asking her to visit him as his health condition is getting worse. Then when she reaches his father's mansion in mainland, she realizes that his father is gone and there is a huge inheritance left for her and her seven "siblings"... Just like any mid-size typical Hong Kong productions, the story actually offers nothing new and plotholes can be found easily. For instance, the old steward Wong should know the true identity of the mastermind early in the beginning, but he just acts like he knows nothing. Nevertheless, overall speaking, if you are not too demanding, these minor illogical flaws should not be too distracting.

Compared to Soi Cheang's previous film New Blood, the horror scenes in this movie are less scary because of the addition of comical elements. Rather than focusing on the horror aspect of the movie, as Cheang has done in his two previous films, he was trying to make The Death Curse more like a mainstream horror-comedy. The movie is less experimental but more commercial. This change of style will probably not be welcome by Cheang's fans, but on the other hand, it does indeed show Cheang's range as a director convincingly as both the comical and thrilling elements are handled satisfactorily. The only flaw is the lack of creativity, a persistant problem since Horrow Hotline: Big Head Monster. If Cheang wants to trascend his movie to another level, he really should spend some time to conceive new ideas instead of borrowing elements from Japanese or Western horror flicks.

While most of us are fixing our eyes on the horror scenes, we should not ignore the fact that the primary topic of this movie is indeed family value. Cheang has once mentioned in an interview that he was greatly influenced by another director Wilson Yip. Identical to Yip's usual emphasis of the unity of family in his movies, Cheang also tries very hard to promote and remind us the value of an intact family. Unlike most of the recent genre movies or TV dramas in Hong Kong in which romance is always the focus, the love plot in The Death Curse is greatly diminished and a large portion of the movie is instead spent on depicting the evolution of the siblings relationships.

The overall quality of The Death Curse is acceptable and fans of Soi Cheang should not be disappointed. However, don't expect another New Blood, it is a Twins movie after all.

Cool guy(s): Raymond Wong

Reviewed by: Kantorates