Friday, March 25, 2016
Every Haunting Hour Ever #31: Bad Feng Shui
Original Airdate: November 26, 2011
Director: James Head
Did you ever have that one experience with a piece of media, like an episode of a TV show or movie, where you had an opinion on it that completely changed upon viewing it for a second time? That's kind of like me and this episode.
A Chinese American girl named Jessica Chen who doesn't care for her Chinese culture ignores her mother. When she ditches her mother at Chinatown her mother buys her many items that bring good feng shui. When her daughter gets home to what she thinks is a horrible surprise she breaks everything and throws it out her window. But one thing stands in her room. A cabinet with a snake on it. Later at night when Jessica is in her bed, sleeping, a snake slithers out of the cabinet and transforms into what looks like a demon with snake skin. When Jessica wakes up, her mother wasn't herself. She soon finds out that the demon has possessed her body. Her friend rings the doorbell and her mother answers. When her mother neglects Jessica's friend, she ends up goes over to the window. They talk for a second. Jessica telling her friend a horrible story. Then they come up with a plan. Jessica and her friend fix all of the broken items and Jessica brings them back in the room. Jessica then walks through the house until she finds the demon. She screams at it then begs for her mother back. She remembers her mother loves it when she plays a violin and begins playing a song. The demon runs through the house trying to escape the sound and finally slithers back into the cabinet closing the door behind it. The mother is back and the two hugs each other. They both make promises of improvement.
Okay I'll cut to the chase and address the elephant in the room. When I first saw this episode, I didn't particularly care for it mostly because of the Chinese stereotypes especially from the mother and the Chinatown shopkeeper, Mr. Ming. To me, I found that they were over the top, distracting, and very cringe worthy. When I saw this episode again however, I realized that these stereotypes did play a big part in the story so with that said, I guess they aren't quite as bad as I remember.
With that said, one of the things I liked about this episode is the ending. On a show like The Haunting Hour, it's not too often you get to see a happy ending and because of this, it's a nice welcome change of pace. The ending also felt earned based on what the characters have gone through in the course of the episode and didn't feel like it was too sweet or got tacked on at the last minute like some of the other episodes in the series. I'm looking at you spaceman episode!
Another thing I enjoyed about the episode was the music. Maybe it's because I'm a fan of East Asian music, but I thought the music in this episode was beautifully orchestrated. It sounds very calm and relaxing but it still manages to be quite atmospheric as well. The East Asian music plays throughout most of the episode (with the exception of the opening scene and end credits) and a lot of this music includes a violin which I interpreted as cleverly subtle foreshadowing for what happens towards the end of the episode.
The other thing that I liked about this episode was the snake monster character. Not only does this character have a creative design, but the effects for this character look really friggin good! For example, the scales on the snake monster's face look as though they took actual snake scales and precariously placed each individual scale on its face. Due to the lighting and atmosphere, it becomes an intimidating character.
One of the issues I had with this episode with this episode was the story. For me, I found to be a bit bare bones and could've used more meat.
Overall, Bad Feng Shui is a surprisingly good episode with a couple of flaws here and there. If you can look past the Chinese stereotypes, you might enjoy this episode okay. But if they're just too bothersome for you, then you might want to skip this episode.
Overall Grade: B