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Review: Phantom of the Theatre

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Tony Yang and Ruby Lin star inWell Go USA's PHANTOM OF THE THEATRE

When you see ghosts in movies, you automatically think it’s going to be a typical horror film. Today, that usually means jump scares, found footage and a predictable ending. However, sometimes you find yourself watching a scary movie that wants to be more than that. This is what Phantom of the Theatre was aiming for. While I certainly appreciate the effort, it doesn’t pull it off as well as it could have.

The film centers around an aspiring filmmaker (Tony Yang) who is returning from abroad looking to make his first picture. To do so, he chooses an old, vacant theater as the location to get it done. Not only does it have some age on it, it also appears to carry a number of vengeful spirits as a result of a deadly fire 13 years earlier. Knowing this, the young man chooses to shoot there anyway and runs into plenty of ghostly complications along the way.

Seeing as this is a horror film of sorts, I do wish they would have done more to try to make it scarier. Using less or better CGI on the ghosts would have likely been a better choice as well. They look to fake and take away from any potential frights that could have been conjured up because it’s difficult to take them seriously.

For the sake of wanting to be entertained, I willingly chose to ignore the fact that if this were real, the film they are shooting would have been shut down if multiple people died on set. I also ignored some of the other glaring issues with using a little more logic that this film has, but I won’t go into that much. Those are problems that I’m usually unable to ignore, but a lot of others might do so more than I normally would.

The primary reason why I chose to turn my brain off a bit is because I liked the acting and I was holding out hope that the film would find ways to improve. Unfortunately, I can’t ignore the flaws when judging it as an entire movie. Even if I did love this, I wouldn’t be able to just let it go unnoticed since this stuff leads to troubles and also play a big part in everything that’s seen.

Another reason why I ignored it was because this is pretty much the only way to allow the movie to actually be what it is in terms of story and plot twists. If you change pretty much any of it, what’s experienced in the story can’t take place. While these issues ultimately do some damage to the picture, it surprisingly doesn’t do enough for me to blast it and look passed the positives that come from them.

Because of what takes happens, the second half is allowed to flourish and grow into something much stronger than the first. While the first half can be described as a weak horror movie, the second portion is more of a suspenseful drama. This is where everything is becoming clearer to the audience as we begin to put it all together. Following what’s taking place has the potential to pull you in while also making you wish the first half was at least close to being as strong.

The reason for the improvement in Phantom of the Theatre is simply because the horror elements get a much needed push to the background. If they would have tried to keep going in this direction, it’s hard to see how it could have gotten much better. If anything, it would have likely gotten worse since holding onto something that clearly isn’t working is almost never a wise thing to do.

As I touched on slightly already, one of the strongest aspects seen throughout this movie is the acting. In spite of the material not being all that great, these guys stepped up and did what they were asked to do. Add them to the surprisingly good musical score, and you have to acknowledge some of the favorable qualities that may not be recognized by disappointed horror fans.

Although I was satisfied with what’s being offered up in Phantom of the Theatre, I did come to appreciate the twists that are in that it had in store. They really helped balance the film out with the failed horror elements that are used to set everything up. Maybe the people who see it won’t be as hard on this as I was. If that’s the case, you may like this more than I did. Then again, I could see others liking less than me if they don’t allow the acting, the twists and the music to have as much of an impact on them.

Rating: Unrated

Director: Raymond Yip

Tony Yang
Ruby Lin
Simon Yam
Huang Lei

Film Length: 104 minutes

Release Date: May 6, 2016 (Limited)

Distributor: Well Go USA

  • - 4/10
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