Demi-Haunted - Demi Fulfilled and Semi Balanced

The opening is rich in promises. The title announces it to be a horror film, which is in vogue this year. As the screaming from Eason Chan turns out to be caused by a stepped-on hand, we know that it is also a comedy that uses seemingly horror scenes for unexpected comic effects. Then Joey Yung makes her entrance and plays a wen su sheng (male lead in Cantonese opera) who, for love, switches to hua dan (female lead) and dies in an accident. Her ghost wants to use the transmigrated Chan for her unfinished business. At that point it also appears to be a love story of predestinated love.

Besides a pot pourri of the horror, comedy and love story genres, it also has a distinctive theme - the show must go on. Because of Chan's opera troupe background, this stage spirit is spelled out loud and clear at the end. Demi-Haunted obviously does not suffer from paucity of subjects and plots, even throws in a seemingly positive and inspiring theme for good measure. However, this mix proves to be a mismatch, despite some very well shot scenes. For instance, Chan's girlfriend's odd combination of vomiting and winning streak, which extends to playing stone, paper and scissors, is quite hilarious. The troupe owner's daughter also gives a moving performance. Still, the movie on the whole is out of balance, not knowing when to focus on which sentiment line. This failure is most obvious at the ending, when the climatic expectation is interrupted by the long eternal triangle subplot between Man Chin-sui, Anthony Wong and Christine Ng. When the Yung ghost finally leaves the earthly world in peace, it is again distracted by Man lecturing Chan on stage commitments. The movie finally ends with an unworthy frivolous play by Chan and his friends. The imbalance does not confine to the ending, or just to plotline arrangement.