January 29, 2011

They Wait (2007)

"A young mother and her six-year-old son come face to face with the mysteries of two murders and a great crime against the Chinese community into which they have recently arrived from Shanghai."

I must admit that I only bought this DVD because of the picture of Jaime King on the sleeve. It had been a month since I last visited the local "Swap Shop" and I think "They Wait" had been on the shelves there for at least the last year. Every time I went in I would pick it up and then put it back in favour of something else and I nearly did this this time too except that I remembered looking the title up on the IMDb before Christmas when I was in the mood for ghost stories. It'd been ages since I'd watched a sexy blonde being menaced by oriental ghosts so I thought I'd finally give this film a try. I'm glad I did too.

Although it's not strictly a "J-horror" (especially since it's Canadian and most of the actors are Chinese), "They Wait" is very much in the tradition of "The Ring", "The Grudge", "Shutter" and all that other good stuff featuring scary ghostly girls with long black hair. In many ways it's a lot like "What Lies Beneath" too especially as it has a dark secret behind the haunting which gets revealed at the end. I suppose you could probably say that it was really like any other ghost story that you've ever watched as, apart from the Chinese elements, it really is a straightforward and formulaic story with no real surprises except that it isn't a remake of anything.

Since the trailer pretty much gives away the entire plot, I'm not going to spoil things further by giving away even more of the story but will instead just mention a couple of things which stood out for me. The first is that Jaime King spends a lot of time with both hands over her face for some reason. In fact, if she is given any opportunity to show fear or emotion then up they go. I didn't find this distracting at all but it was amusing. Also in her obligatory shower scene, there's no nakedness because she seems to already be wearing a beige coloured towel before she puts her bathrobe on. I suspected that this might be a PG-13 film at first but it's actually rated R so a bit more nudity would have been absolutely fantastic as far as I'm concerned.

There are a couple of decent scares and some gore but mostly things are pretty tame. The camerawork is good and the acting is fine even if the relationship between Terry Chen and Jaime King lacks chemistry. I'd put that down more to the script and how Terry Chen has a lot less screen time than anything else. Regan Oey who plays their son, Sam, is really good. These three actors pretty much carry the story along in its very discernible sections with hardly any overlap or interaction between them and that is a major weakness. Again, without spoiling it, Terry's reaction to what should be some very worrying news half way through seems very cold and mechanical.

Anyway, even though just like every other film ever made, "They Wait" has a lot of flaws, it's still very entertaining, has good production values and was just nicely done overall. It could have been scarier and a lot more adult but it's still a decent and enjoyable ghost story.

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