Chapter 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Chapter 2 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Chapter 3 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Chapter 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Chapter 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Chapter 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
When The Ghost Bride dropped back in 2013 it was one of the more unusual and interesting historical romances to hit the shelves. The imaginative way it managed to conjure up the after-life while steeping itself in realism and Chinese tradition made it a very engaging book to read. It’s also a highly visualized one too, with plenty of conjured images of the fantastical after-life. Although some lamented the love triangle that plunged the book into YA (young adult) territory, the book itself did well to keep things exciting and unpredictable across the 350 or so pages.
When Netflix announced their upcoming adaptation of The Ghost Bride, I remained cautiously optimistic that the streaming giants could pull off the visually stunning scenes that made this book so appealing. Unfortunately The Ghost Bride fails to do this, instead taking the worst elements of the book and fleshing that out into a six-part series that’s similar by name only and parading itself around in someone else’s skin (which is ironic given that’s a core story beat of the book that’s missing here). The result is something that doubles down on cheeky humour, modern music montages and some questionable acting to produce a very different teen drama to that of the original tale.
The story here sees Li Lan haunted by ghastly nightmares as the hellish Tian Ching comes to her night after night. When she’s invited to the Lim mansion for a festival, she learns that Madame Lim intends to marry her off to the late Tian Ching. Her Father defiantly refuses though and instead, Li Lan finds herself teaming up with the Heavenly Guard Er Lang to try and get to the bottom of just how and why Tian Ching died.
As the series progresses, the series spends the first half in the real world, building up its love triangle and introducing Tian Bai and his fiancee Isabel to add more melodramatic woes to the story. It’s not until the fourth episode that we reach the afterlife and from here, the story builds up an action-packed finale and the teasing glimpses of a possible second season at the end, despite wrapping up most of the other story beats.
Don’t get me wrong, book adaptations that change core elements of the story can sometimes be for the better (Jurassic Park had rocket launchers and John Hammond was not a nice guy in the book) but here, The Ghost Bride fails to really elevate the changes above something that feels below-average on almost every level. The acting is poor, especially early on when one character looks directly at the camera while delivering her lines, while other times the pantomime-feel to the threat of Tian Ching never quite reaches that level of horror the series tries to reach with its late season flurry of violence and twisted imagery.
Hearing hip-hop blaring out of a gambling den in the 1890’s is one of the most tonally jarring moments of the year while the grey, dull vision of the afterlife as this bleak apocalyptic wasteland is a bitter pill to swallow after reading such wonderful imagery in the book. The action scenes are competent enough though and some of this does make the later parts of the series more thrilling but compared to so many other shows out there, The Ghost Bride is a pale, ghostly imitation of its source material.
|The Ghost Bride is available to watch on Netflix. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|