Directed by Derek Nguyen, Starring: Kate Nhung, Jean-Michel Richaud, Rosie Fellner. Horror, Vietnam, 2016, 105mins, Cert 15.
Released in the UK in a Dual Format Blu-ray & DVD on 19th February 2017 by Eureka Entertainment as part of its new Montage Pictures range.
Set in Vietnam in 1953, first-time director Derek Nguyen serves up an intriguing gothic horror period drama (with just a few too many jump-scares).
Linh (Kate Nhung), a bedraggled young woman, pitches up out of the rain seeking a housemaid position at the vast French colonial mansion owned by Captain Sebastien Laurent (Jean-Michel Richaud). Competition for the vacancy is non-existent as both the house and surrounding grounds which make up the Sa Cat rubber plantation are rumoured to be haunted by both the Captain’s late wife and the former mistreated plantation workers. Having ingratiated herself into the minimally staffed mansion, it isn’t long before romance blooms between Linh and Captain Laurent, which seemingly proves to be the catalyst for the spirits of the dead to rise seeking revenge...
Shades of REBECCA then with the colonial mansion standing in for Manderley, the usurping of the deceased first lady of the mansion, and a creepy Mrs Danvers-like housekeeper.
The ghostly manifestations are of the customary J-horror variety. (The screeching apparition reminded me at times of the horror parody trailer HANDJOB CABIN!) This is somewhat redeemed however by a late twist to the deadly appearances of the spectral ex-wife seemingly risen from the drowned depths of the estate’s lake.
Sumptuous production design and slick 2.35:1 photography make the most of the atmospheric period setting, whilst the plot utilises the historical/political backdrop to deliver an interesting take on the traditional gothic romance.
Whilst the jump-scares serve to gift the trailer’s editor with material to hard-sell the supernatural elements, they also act as a (partial) red herring when the true picture of revenge is revealed underneath the veil.
***(out of 5*)