Thursday, December 16, 2010

In short: Curse of the Coffee Hill (2010)

Original title: Ka Fei Shan: Si Zhou

During the course of an unspecified research project, college student Shi Min wanders Singapore's graveyards and photographs tombstones. One day, she photographs the wrong one. The mandatory mad elderly lady's warning of a terrible curse comes too late, and a ghost latches on to Shi Min. Thanks to the ghostly infection, the student develops a peculiar limp, has short moments of atypical behaviour (aka makes possession faces) and suffers from nightmares of being raped by a gang of five men. She also suffers from a handful of coffee-related terrors. Looks like the (now coffee-hating) ghost that is troubling Shi Min belongs to a woman raped and murdered decades ago by a group of coffee plantation workers. The poor dead darling is still looking for vengeance.

Even if you know as little about a local culture of filmmaking as I do of that in Singapore at this moment, you don't need any of that knowledge to be sure that someone is going to grab a camera, a few amateur actors and make a horror film based on an urban legend in any given place and time. The film at hand is very probably shot without proper permissions, and the lack of a budget prevents the appearance of much special effects beyond a little blood and (very little) ghost make-up. Although the lead actress shows some excellent gymnastics talent at the film's grand finale, which is its own sort of special effect.

The script only makes for a thirty minute movie (whose DVD is padded out by a documentary that sees the actors take a stroll around the film's graveyard accompanied by the local paranormal society), but that does at least leave the film without filler and gives it a feeling of tightness.

So, not surprisingly, Curse of the Coffee Hill isn't exactly a masterpiece, but it's perfectly watchable if you take it for the basically good-natured trifle it is. There are certainly worse ways to kill half an hour.


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