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Fantastic Fest 2008: “Seventh Moon.”

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09212008_seventhmoon.jpgThere was an episode of “The Maury Povich Show” in which people confessed to serious but laughable phobias — birds, pickles, balloons — after which, for scientific purposes, you understand, a PA would come out and confront them with their object of terror. As I watched a housewife be chased around a sound stage, shrieking, by an intern wielding a balloon, it occurred to me that the segment was one of the most awesome things I’d ever seen on TV, and also that, in a far-off way, I could relate to the woman. I can’t stand the low-grade torture of seeing a balloon in the hands of someone with the intent to ultimately pop it — the pop itself is nothing, but the anticipation of it, the not knowing when it’s coming, is agony.

“Seventh Moon” is a horror flick based almost completely on that squirmy frisson, which is really the cheapest and most irritating ploy of the genre. The film’s a series of set-pieces in which you know, eventually, someone will leap out and yell “Boo!” Alas, that someone is always one or several of a pack of chalky, asthmatic monsters (“moon demons”) who look like shabby knock-offs of the cave dwellers in “The Descent” and the ogre in “Pan’s Labyrinth.” “Seventh Moon” is third feature from Eduardo Sánchez, who, almost a decade ago, teamed up with Daniel Myrick to make the most financially successful indie film ever — “The Blair Witch Project.” Neither of the two co-directors has managed to make a blip on the radar since. Myrick’s dreadful “The Objective,” which premiered at Tribeca earlier this year and vanished, tried to recreate the “Blair Witch” scenario of people being menaced by supernatural forces in the wilderness in rural Afghanistan. “Seventh Moon” tries the same in China, where the American-born Yul (Tim Chiou) has taken his blond bride Melissa (Amy Smart) on a honeymoon trip to meet his extended family. The tour guide they’ve hired to drive them ditches them in an boarded-up village in the dark, where the locals have planned to offer the pair as sacrifices to the menacing creatures who return annually to add to their number. There’s much running through the trees, and then hiding in a house, and then running through the trees, and then hiding in a car, but precious little to make you care about the fate of the couple, who get scant moments of development: “You hate that I’m Chinese!” “I love that you’re Chinese.”

The film is roughly inspired by the Chinese belief that in the seventh month of the lunar year the dead return to the land of the living to partake in offerings, but the monsters are the filmmaker’s own creation, and a borderline insulting upping of a major cultural event into something including human sacrifice. “Seventh Moon” is, in a way, like “Hostel” or “Turistas,” a fantastia about the hostilities the rest of the world has to offer Americans abroad. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the broad but stinging subtext of either of those titles. It does have a lot of pale things leaping out of the dark. Boo!

[Photo: “Seventh Moon,” Haxan Films, 2008]

+ “Seventh Moon” (Fantastic Fest)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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