Ghost Month: A 2009 Low Budget Horror Film
This was the official website for the 2009 low-budget horror film, Ghost Month, which won the Best Director and Best Cinematography award at the Chicago Horror Film Festival.
Content is from the site's archived pages as well as other sources for reviews.
Las Vegas Weekly
Thu, Jul 16, 2009 (midnight)
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.
Danny Draven Director
(Danny Draven) is an award-winning director, producer and writer of horror films. From slashers to robots to vampires to beds that kill, each one has a unique story behind it. He started out working with genre notables like Full Moon Entertainment’s owner Charles Band (Puppetmaster, Blood Dolls), as well as producing and directing Deathbed for “Master of Horror,” Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator). Draven’s production company, Darkworld Pictures, recently finished a 35mm feature called Ghost Month, a supernatural-thriller which he produced, wrote and directed. It will be released on June 9, 2009 on DVD and Blu-ray in North America.
Draven is also the owner of a post-production company, Darkworld Post), through which he recently edited the Sci Fi Channel original movie, Ice Spiders. Here he recounts a story from the filming of Cryptz.
GHOST MONTH - 2009 OFFICIAL MOVIE TRAILER
Film Review: Ghost Month (2009)
Writer/Director Danny Draven takes the helm for this supernaturally driven shocker about an unassuming housekeeper drawn into a terrifying world of vengeful apparitions. According to the Chinese calendar, the seventh month of every year marks the time when the restless spirits of the dead break free from the gates of hell to mix among the mortals .During this time, specific rules must be followed to avoid falling prey to the spirits of the damned.When a solitude-seeking housekeeper arrives at the desert home of a superstitious Chinese woman and her devoutly religious aunt,death senses an opportunity to extend its grip into the mortal realm.
An independent release starring Marina Resa, Shirley To and Rick Irvin.Wri ten and directed by Danny Draven, Ghost month as we are told is the period where Heaven, Hell and the realm of the living are open and which ghosts and spirits, including those of the deceased ancestors, come out from the lower realm. For the Asian culture, this is a serious time to be respected, even though it is not believed by all of the culture. Certain religious preparations are made as well as traditional aspects that should be adhered to. Breaking those rules, can lead to the spirits taking notice and a potential haunting can occur. Sounds pretty reasonable. Don’t mess with the spirits during ghost month. Of course this kind of premise is a horror movie waiting to happen and follows a formula that is familiar in other similar trends. Though as a viewer I never tire of a good ghost story and seem to never get enough.
Alyssa (Marina Resa ) a newly hired housekeeper arrives at a beautiful house set in the country. Owned by a wealthy Asian family the house is found to be be both tranquil and mysterious. She is greeted by her employer Miss Wu and Aunt Chen who are hospitable but a bit cold and traditional. As the story goes Alyssa tries to deal with her new job, spooks, some hidden secrets on the former housekeeper, a noisy neighbor and here abusive ex boyfriend. The tales is centered around this unwakening of the dead spirits and their haunting of the house.
It does have its mix of thrills and chills. Even though this movie is rooted in Asian tradition it is by no means in my opinion an Asian horror film. It just happens to be focused around a myth that is honored in the culture and stars a couple of Asian actors. I know the influence was there, but to me Asian films have a combination of certain camera moves, pacing and story quirks, that simply wasnt present here.
Danny Draven, it appears is no stranger to working on horror films as he has a pretty wide selection of roles he has taken on in productions. His credits include several other works in which he has done a number of various film making aspects. So he does come to the table with healthy experience.
I think Ghost month is a pretty solid attempt. While I find myself somewhat in the middle on this one, I think its worth it to point out pros and cons. The pros are when the scares are turned on, they are minimalist but effective. Which I think is the way to go. The CGI FX were pretty solid for there quick appearances as well. However, I did feel like there just wasn’t “enough” scares for me to keep me on edge. To be more specific it was lacking alot of that “scary sneak up on you moments in the background” creepiness. We do see a couple of hair movements under beds…kind of stuff, though I thought they could of really amped up more of these kinds of things to increase tension. Some of the ghost shost were hard to see due to lighting, which confused the visuals on what you were seeing.
GM has alot of drama that slows the pacing of what could have been a dynamic horror film. I would have liked to have seen more ghost action, and ethereal creepiness in place of drawn out drama. Another pro is GM was filmed on 35 MM, which tends to usually be a pro in most cases. However , a touch more film treating would have sealed the deal …maybe not alot just enough to give it some additional mood toning to convey a deeper sense of cinematic’s
I couldn’t review this film without mentioning how well the background score is composed. With music by Jojo Draven, it truly is a strength in this film by creating that creepy, orchestral ambience that covers the film front to back. Great job and very appropriate backing track to carry the visuals throughout.
As mentioned before Ghost month is a solid attempt. Its got some creepy moments that work and some middle story drags that slow things down a bit. Overall, a decent film with creepiness to satisfy, Nice to see it cover a tradition such as Ghost Month that may inspire others to take on the old lore in there film projects. I’d like to see more work by Danny after he’s had time to refine his approaches and techiques. I think he’s on the right trail though and the fine tuning will come out naturally in his future works.
TOMATOMETER CRITICS X | AUDIENCE 21%
* Al M
October 9, 2013
An interesting premise and a few creepy images do little to make this boring film even remotely palatable...
* jen b
July 20, 2012
there was really nothing to it
½ Nikita W
July 9, 2012
I would rather eat staples than watch this boring,bland movie.
The first part was okay,but then it became kind of a chore to finish watching it.
** Luciano G
March 30, 2012
I think it's a worthwhile ghost story
** Michael P
March 30, 2012
Low budget movie with only a few good plot twists, other than that was rather boring.
** chanadh c
March 30, 2012
good but nothing special, and its a low budget movie i think
*½ Michael A
March 30, 2012
A variation on the long haired dead chick revenge movie. chick is housekeeper for Chinese lady, chick starts seeing ghosts. chick finds out mystery and has to fight back.
Oh yea when you are fleeing a Haunted House DON'T STOP and pack a suitcase.
** Joe A
March 30, 2012
A hot Asian woman hires a cute co-ed to be her housekeeper and there are no lesbian scenes! WHAT KIND OF MOVIE IS THIS?! Actually it's a fairly dull supernatural thriller with weak CGI. Asian folklore slant doesn't help.
***½ Donna L
March 30, 2012
I found it slow and dragging. But it still kept my interest enough to watch it till the end.