The Death Curse (2003)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2007-10-07
There are some obvious problems with “Death Curse” apart from that the credits give away a key plot twist—although a viewer paying attention (or even nodding off) will figure it out during the first meeting/introduction of the scattered Ting progeny. The “live” actors—or at least actors playing live people—are upstaged by the corpse of old man Ting. It is easier to believe that his rotting carcass can be preserved for 49 days while his children burn incense to his spirit than to accept some of the impersonations by the various Hong Kong pop idols that litter the cast. It is easy for the Twins—they simply play themselves, Gillian and Charlene having fun with a scary ghost story something their fans (a category in which I do not include myself) expect. Kenny Kwan and Steven Cheung, also billed as “Boyz” barely registered at all.

The centerpiece of the movie is a confrontation between Alex Fong on one side and everyone else on the other. It is quite dull and much too long, taxing the acting skills of most of the cast far beyond their abilities to deliver. The ineptitude of four actors locked in a cage pretending to assault a fifth was almost embarrassing. It wasn’t funny, they conveyed no sense of danger and there was really very little point to it. Fong has a poison that in a slightly more merciful world would have killed those who he used it on instead of making them even worse actors than they already were. Charlene and Gillian wield knives, get tied up and hung from hooks on the ceiling and act cute while in danger of being killed or at least dismembered.

The set design of “Death Curse” is wonderful—the spooky mansion where the Ting clan gathers is beautifully realized with great detail and some ingenious passages between rooms. Earlier scenes, in an apartment house hallway where Charlene abuses an admirer for reading her mail and right afterwards in a cafe where she takes all of his money, are designed very simply, the sparseness of the decor actually helping to speed things along with only the plot and exposition to think about. The cinematography is lush with a deep and rich palette highlighting the difference between the crumbling house and the surrounding jungle. There are a number of potentially scary things that get introduced early on—ghostly children, weird noises, someone who looks like a witch—but only one of them, the poisonous bees, shows up later in the film.

There are two not completely expected deaths but everything else is very much by the numbers.

This is a good movie for fans of the Twins but there isn’t much for anyone else.
Reviewer Score: 4