The cover of this film has Eli Roth’s name featured very prominently on the cover which is a strange decision because Roth’s only connection to this film is a small acting part. This film is a fairly standard ghost story and there isn’t very much in the way of graphic gore. It is another remake of a Japanese horror film so I’m not sure how much of the atmosphere of the originals has been lost in adaptation.
The film opens with an exposition dump that could have been shown in flashbacks but instead it’s a text dump with voiceover reading it and it suggests to me that the film has been cut This tell us a that a gypsy women did a deal with the devil so that she would marry a powerful man. The price of this deal is the woman’s first child. When the child Matya is born she has a birthmark. When she is older the superstitious locals say is a devil’s mark and they kill her. The voice-over continues to tell us about a film director Bela Olt (Eli Roth) who went to Romania in the 1920s to make a film about the story with actress Lila Kis playing Matya’s mother. We get some clips of that film and are told that the crew and director disappeared.
Now another crew wants to tell the story and already I feel like I’m watching David Lynch’s Inland Empire but once the film gets started this film takes a more conventional direction. The director of this latest attempt is Marcus Reed (Reshad Strik) and he is prone to having visions. Because he uses these visions to create profitable films his friend and producer Josh Petri (Henry Thomas) is very tolerant of his psychosis. Less tolerant is his ex-girlfriend Claire’s (Alyssa Sutherland) brother when he goes to visit her before leaving
They go to Romania, and are taken to the original 1920s film set by a local man called Grigore (Lothaire Bluteau). Marcus wants to go inside and have a look right away even though Grigore advises him to wait until morning when the rest of the crew gets there with lights. Inside the set Marcus hear a sound like wailing coming from above and rushes upstairs followed Grigore. The place has a nasty smell and Marcus suggests they split up and look around for the source. Grigore finds a door with a loud buzzing sound coming from behind it but he doesn’t look behind it because Marcus wants to go back downstairs again. They don’t see a figure watching all that’s going on chuckling quietly from the shadows
Next day the rest of the crew turns up and they all get set up for a scene. Things start going wrong right away such as the power cutting out. The electrician Davis (Kevin Corrigan) is up in the gallery with his assistant and he tells Josh and Marcus that the power supply is not good enough for what they want and Davis indulges in a few choice comments about Romania. Grigore speaks up to defend the place and Davis calls him Igor and tells him to shut up. Grigore then shows how Romania is a part of the modern world by revealing himself to be horror film nerd and correcting the insult on the grounds that Frankenstein’s assistant was called Fritz and he was Swiss not Romanian.
They manage to get the power fixed and film the scene which is just basically the lead actress entering a large hall and being frightened by something she sees. Up in the gallery the electrician’s assistant hears a noise and goes to investigate. The cameraman gets startled by something strange he sees through the viewfinder and Marcus has a fit so Josh has to call cut. He asks for the house lights to be turned on and here’s suddenly a scream from the gallery and it was the electrician’s assistant whose eyes have been damaged in some sort of fire involving flies and an electrical junction box. They get him in a car to drive him to a hospital in nearest large city and Josh sends the film to get processed too which is a bad taste move that really gets to Davis but Josh calms him down by telling the driver to take the man to hospital first.
This is the first of several incidents as the set seems to be haunted by the spirits of both Matya and Lila Kis. There are more deaths followed by a muddled ending that just leaves the story hanging as if the film producers hoped for a sequel. At first the film was okay but I think the story got a bit lost. Eli Roth is in this but it has more in common with the ghost stories from Japan than anything he has directed or written so I think it is misleading to feature his name so prominently on the cover. Overall I‘d say the film is okay but easily forgotten