Business intrigue and Chinese whispers fail to create tension in “Clay Fear,” a glossy but empty supernatural thriller from China. With multiple bows to Nipponese culture, Chinese helmer and Japanologist Zhang Jiabei strives for a J-horror atmosphere, but sleek package is too strained and slight to convince. Midnight madness fest programmers may consider this, but confused plot and clumsy frights may bring more scorn than scares. Pic is skedded for domestic release in April.
Pottery factory owner Ming Fu (Ng Kai Wah) is haunted by visions of the blazing death of his business partner in a suspicious fire. Widowed, Ming is set to marry Ye Yue (Miao Pu) much to the consternation of Ming’s “Rebecca”-like housemaid Zhen Zi (Ayumi Ito of “All About Lily Chou-Chou”), who just happens to be his late wife’s sister. Yarn hints at paranormal causes as more of Ming’s business associates die one by one, but an early slip gives the game away. Zhang’s helming, aided by Japanese vet Yudai Kato’s lustrous lensing, is inventive, but a heavy glazing of horror cliches make this cracked yarn damaged goods. Tech credits are impressive.