The Bridge Curse (2020) Damns Viewers to an Eternity of Mediocrity
Title: The Bridge Curse
First Wide Release: February 27, 2020 (Theatrical Release)
Director: Lester Hsi
Writer: Keng-Ming Chang, Po-Hsiang Hao
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Starring: Ning Chang, Cheng Ko, J.C. Lin
Where to Watch: check out where to find it here
A group of university students falls into supernatural trouble when they plan a coming-of-age initiation test for younger students on campus. A reporter investigates the mysterious incident years later, determined to get to the bottom of it all. The Bridge Curse switches back and forth between these two narratives, as the teenagers fight for their lives, and the journalist fights for the truth. With no other credits to his name, Lester Hsi directs his first feature film The Bridge Curse.
A derivative and clunky Taiwanese horror flick, The Bridge Curse offers maximum style and minimum scares.
As generic as they come, The Bridge Curse serves up a setup that’s been done to death in Asian horror cinema in the last twenty years. A few twists and turns are present, but they don’t make up for the fact that the story takes bits and pieces from more successful films from its region and pieces them together to form this painfully average haunter. What’s more, The Bridge Curse needlessly complicates its plot by adding in extra twists that don’t really make much sense when you think too hard about it.
Its cast of pretty, yet forgettable young people play their parts well enough. I found myself rolling my eyes at the shallow motivations and dumb decision making. It is even more egregious once the film turns to its found footage angle. The reporter, as a character, feels entirely unnecessary. Her entire existence in the film makes it clear she is only there to facilitate a franchise development of the film. I’m hoping it doesn’t work.
Sleek and stylish, The Bridge Curse is visually appealing and engaging as a film and tricks you into thinking it’s a better movie than it is in reality. I often found myself enthralled by the decision-making behind the shots. The Bridge Curse implements a healthy mixture of long takes and quick shots that keep the film’s pacing dynamic and engaging. The film also enjoys a bleak aesthetic. The set design and production values look more professionally done than one might expect from a Netflix movie unceremoniously dumped in late August. One particular scene I enjoyed involves a character searching for clues in the library where the camera pans out to show the darkness of the stacks beyond her. It is simple, yet effective and there are plenty of shots like this throughout the film.
I am not a fan of the use of editing or effects in this film. There are several instances where the filmmakers utilize jump editing to make the ghosts scarier, mostly because the designs are lame and the direction is tame, and it just does not work. I will say, however, I do enjoy the transitions between scenes. They flow much smoother and help keep the pace. The effects, as mentioned earlier, are okay but unmemorable. The ghost design is uninspired and could have used a revamp.
Unorganized and bland, The Bridge Curse is as mundane as its title suggests. Hsi labors to hit every single Asian horror cliché in the book. The story suffers greatly from this. The narrative lacks care and direction while the characters are unappealing and bland. Beyond the film’s artistic achievements, there isn’t much to highlight. It would also be helpful if The Bridge Curse had something to say, but beyond its surface-level quench for revenge, the story falls short once more. I do appreciate the straight tone, Hsi largely goes for, but with a story as bare-bones as The Bridge Curse, the foundation crumbles away.
I can’t say watching The Bridge Curse is the worst use of my time. It has its moments and it is much better produced than I anticipated. At the end of the day, nothing can polish the bloated script, the gimmicky found footage addition, and the annoying characters. Fans of Asian horror might find something worthwhile to chew on before the next big thing comes stateside but for other folks, it's best to burn this bridge before it burns you.
Overall Score? 5/10