“Tritch” (2011): Memories and Regret Haunt a Mother in Shanghai-Set Ghost Drama

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Writer/director Natalie James’s Tritch is a meditative, slow-burn ghost drama that goes for a more reflective, haunting feeling than for sheer dread and fright. The result is an impressive debut short that offers equal parts pathos and eeriness.

This Australian short film, set in Shanghai and presented in the Mandarin language, tells the tale of affluent housewife Mei (Jenevieve Chang), who spends her days dining with friends or talking with her elderly mother (Linda Hsia). Mei starts to see and talk to a ghost in her home. She brings this up with her mother, who says that ghosts always appear for a reason.

Tritch couch
Mei  (Jenevieve Chang) attempts to reach her son while her maid cleans Mei’s well-appointed apartment.

Mei is also being haunted by something more down-to-earth: a decision that she and her husband made when they were younger. Natalie James conveys to viewers that Mei is feeling emotionally distanced from her husband (Ferdinand Hoang) with a cinematic technique rather than exposition: as he speaks to her for the first time in the film, he is reflected in a mirror while his dialogue is obscured by the sound of Mei’s blow dryer. Her son has recently been accepted to university but she has been unable to talk to him lately because he is always out partying with friends. As she goes through this disconnection with her family, Mei contemplates the couple’s earlier decision while attempting to make sense of her ghostly visitor.

Jenevieve Chang skillfully emanates a moving portrayal of a mother who finds she cannot escape a feeling of remorse, even though she lives a wealthy lifestyle with all of its amenities and has a successful family. Chang’s expressions of pensiveness and introspection are poignant.  

Tritch pensive
Jenevieve Chang gives a poignant performance as a mother whose past comes back to truly haunt her.

Whereas many ghost stories aim merely for a sense of dread, Tritch adds a tone of heartfelt regret. Natalie James has crafted a unique take on ghost films with her supernatural drama that offers a fair share of creepy moments. The short is bolstered by a sympathetic protagonist and her sad story, admirable performances, and skillful direction.

Tritch screened at the Scream Queen Filmfest Tokyo tour event in Nagoya, Japan, in February 2016.

Tritch: 3.5 Stars (3.5 / 5)

Tritch poster

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.