Local filmmaker Danny Draven’s shot-in-Nevada low-budget horror feature Ghost Month is an admirable effort to bring the atmospheric storytelling and mythological focus of Asian horror films to the American direct-to-DVD market, but it falls pretty far short of its influences. Slow and plodding rather than atmospheric, with very few scares, Ghost Month avoids much of the cheese of B-horror gorefests, but the lack of blood, guts and nudity only puts that much more focus on the stilted dialogue and stiff acting.
Marina Resa gives an extremely flat performance as Alyssa, a young woman running away from her past who takes a job as a housekeeper on the remote desert estate of Miss Wu (Shirley To), a Chinese immigrant who lives with her elderly aunt. Miss Wu doesn’t work, and her home seems perpetually tidy, so her use for a housekeeper is questionable, and Alyssa has lots of time to snoop around and inquire about the Chinese tradition of the Ghost Month, when spirits roam free. Soon those pesky spirits are bugging Alyssa, while back in the city her psychotic ex-boyfriend works to track her down.
Draven tries to create a sense of foreboding but mostly just ends up with boredom, and his occasional scares come mainly from jump moments. Its depiction of the Chinese as superstitious and sinister aside, Ghost Month has solid artistic ambitions. Unfortunately, the result is just as slapdash as the typical horror cheapie, only less fun.