MATRIMONY: Movie Review

Matrimony DVD Cover
Review by Michael Pickle, MoreHorror.com

Matrimony is a dramatic, supernatural horror film made in mainland China in 2007, but Palisades Tartan / Asia Extreme is bringing it to the states on DVD & Blu-ray on July 26th 2011. The film is quite beautiful. Too beautiful for it's own good in some ways. The beauty of it immediately raises your expectations. At it's core it's a standard, but very well made ghost story. Sure, it lacks originality, but that does not mean it's not a great film to watch.

"Matrimony" is directed by Hua-Tao Teng and set in 1930's China. It centers around Junchu (Leon Lai). A filmmaker who loses his love and almost his will to live. On the way to a rendezvous with Junchu where he plans on asking her to marry him, his lover Manli (Bingbing Fan) is struck by 2 cars in a horrible accident (and even more horrible use of CGI). She dies in his arms.

A year later Junchu has become a depressed shell of a man who has been forced into an arranged marriage to Sansan (Rene Liu) but he still pines for his lost love Manli. So much so that he keeps all her belongings in a locked room and forbids Sansan to enter. Junchu treats Sansan like crap and makes it clear that he does not want her there and would much rather be with Manli.

After some eerie happenings, the ghost of Manli appears to Sansan and freaks her out. After getting over the pesky hurdle of Manli being a ghost, Sansan befriends her and agrees to let her possess her occasionally in an attempt to endear Junchu to her and regain his will to live. Soon Sansan begins to realize that Manli is not the kind, helpful spirit she claims to be and her true and sinister plan is revealed.

In a particularly effective scene; Junchu's Aunt explains to Sansan that spirits are neither good nor bad. They are like wild beasts who know what they want and will instinctively stop at nothing to get it. Manli has become a vengeful spirit who wants to take over Sansan's body so she can be with Junchu and end the torture of seeing him miserable with someone else.

Matrimony Movie Still

MATRIMONY features top-notch camera work and art direction in almost every frame and the locations are breathtaking. The acting by the two female leads is superb. Leon Lai also turns in a good performance, but his character is so broken by his loss that he is never able to shine. Some effects come off a little cheesy, but some resonate. Each cheesy effect is almost immediately followed by an impressive one so it never completely loses the viewer.

I found myself starting to become bored then some great scene or shot would pull me back in. The story would start to feel too derivative then some great art direction or line or effect would pull me back in again. I went back and forth like this a few times during the course of the film, but ultimately ended up enjoying Matrimony for it's sheer artistry. You may not be impressed by the story, but you sure won't be disappointed after watching it. There's just too many things to like.


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