They Wait Ernie Barbarash

They Wait Ernie Barbarash
An interesting, long overdue premise can’t stop this pathetic chiller from constantly reminding you that "they suck.” The "they” in question are the ghosts trying to grab the soul of a Chinese-Canadian boy (he’s Chinese-something; this is one of those CanFlix set "somewhere in North America”) and it has something to do with a dirty little secret his elders committed long, long ago. Eventually, the kid gets nabbed and mother Jaime King has to figure out what they want and redress the grievances that have so irked the ominous black-armed woman who beckons her to come.

Under normal circumstances, I would welcome a film that deals with the history of, and abuses toward, Chinese immigrants in the last century, but the film does nothing with it — it’s just a gimmick for a bad horror movie, one so inept in dealing with the chills that you wonder why anyone bothered at all. You’d think that the crimes to which it refers might arouse a little outrage or heat from director Ernie Barbarash, but having piggybacked on his social issue, he feels sufficiently political to blow off anything approaching personal investment. He proves incapable of suggesting any kind of mood or building any sort of tension, with the only thing brought to the party being a disingenuously goody-goody tone that seems at odds with the dark history on offer or the brutal genre at play.

There’s absolutely nothing to watch in this thing — not an interesting performance, beautiful shot or nice piece of design — and you sort of wonder why the filmmakers didn’t just join the family furniture business instead of entering an art form in which they clearly have no interest. The whole thing reeks of a make-work project, and its theatrical release shouldn’t slow down an obvious trip to budget DVD hell. (TVA)