Posts Tagged ‘Korea’

Continuing the trend of Asian horror films I’ve been binging on lately, our latest entry is The Cat, which is cute and scary because it involves kitties!

The Cat follows So-yeon, a young woman working at a pet store whose claustrophobia is so severe her apartment doesn’t even have doors inside it. One day after finishing a grooming session with a rich client’s cat, she starts to see apparitions of a little girl with cat-like eyes (sounds like my girlfriend in 10-15 years). That same day the client ends up dying mysteriously in the elevator, her cat seemingly unharmed. Asked by a friend of hers on the police force to watch over the cat until the investigation is over and the client’s husband decides he wants the cat back, So-yeon is sent on a terrifying journey to find out the origin of the cat she has as well as the little girl before the latter does her in too.

Now, this film is pretty paint-by-the-numbers in terms of story and characters: you see a lot of the normal clichés (the love interest, the friend who’s a bit shallow, the tragic backstory of the ghost, the almost too-good ending, etc.). However, the filmmakers do have a pretty good sense of building tension and keeping the story going without us becoming bored by the structured plot. Plus a lot of scenes with the cats are kind of scary to watch, especially when it involves a cat being mishandled, abused, killed, or dead.* And there’s a very powerful theme running throughout the film about helping those who are helpless, which is represented by a number of characters as well as cats, and it’s hard not to empathize with that.

Overall, I give The Cat a 3.5 out of 5. In a way, it’s similar to Jurassic World: not the best movie of its kind, but it does well on its own and it’ll do the job if you’re looking for that kind of movie.

You know I think I might take a break from all these Asian horror films soon. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part I’m coming across pretty good ones. It’s just that I don’t want to watch them to the point where I’m absolutely sick of them. That nearly happened to me with Stephen King in high school: I read way too many of his books in a short period of time and had to take a break from him lest I stopped liking his work. Now King’s an occasional enjoyment, and perhaps these sort of films should be as well.

Though if anyone finds videos of the films A Tale of Two Sisters, Hanako, or even the French horror film Livide with English subtitles, let me know. I’m dying to see them.

*Don’t worry though, the filmmakers assures the audience at the end that no cats were harmed in the making of this film. As far as we know anyway.

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You know, my experience with Asian horror films has been rather hit-and-miss, and even some of the hits have had their share of problems. This one however, at least in my humble opinion, is a hit with very few problems, if any. And considering that I found this film by accident, with no idea what it was about or what most of the critics thought, I’m really glad I decided to watch it.

Someone Behind You (also known by its North American title, Voices) follows a South Korean girl by the name of Ga-in, a happy and pretty girl on her school’s fencing team whose life suddenly takes a turn for the worse when her aunt is brutally murdered in an act of rage on her wedding day. Whispers go around that Ga-in’s family may be under a curse, and when Ga-in is attacked herself, she has to unravel where the curse comes from if she wants to survive.

From the very beginning, this movie has you terrified and on your toes. The filmmakers create a great atmosphere using lighting, music, and scares to really immerse you in the film, and the actors are great. When they are sad or angry or murderous, you feel the emotion behind it. And the story itself, with its many twists and turns, will keep you guessing about what will happen and about the nature of the curse (is it caused by rage? Jealousy? General resentment over something? Is there even a curse at all, or is it just a metaphor for letting your emotions get the better of you?) right up until the final scene.

My one criticism is that Ga-in comes to trust Seok-min, a mysterious transfer student who in horror terms is “the creepy outsider character” and seems to know something about the curse’s nature, a little too quickly. Why doesn’t she question him about his knowledge more? Why is she so willing to take him up on his advice? Makes no sense to me.

Overall though, this is a creepy film, and I’m very glad I stumbled upon it. You’ll get scared, you’ll be trying to guess what’ll happen right up until the very end, and when the final secret is unveiled, it’ll blow you away. On a scale of 1 to 5, I give Someone Behind You a 4.5 out of 5. I hope I find more Asian horror films like this one, because nothing lifts my mood like a good scary story.

Now if you don’t mind, I have to go hide. I think that curse is after me now! AAAAAAAH!

A while back I said I was going to try and catch some more Korean horror films after seeing one that wasn’t too bad. Well, I just saw another one. And it sucked. So I’m sharing my thoughts on it here, partly because I feel like I should tell people in case they want to see it, and partly because I need to exorcise my thoughts on it or they’ll stew in my head for a while (never a good thing).

Cinderella is only very tenuously connected to the story we all grew up with. This movie follows Hyeon-su, a very pretty teenager who lives with her talented plastic surgeon mother Yoonhee. After one of her friends suffers a gruesome death after getting plastic surgery from Yoonhee, Hyeon-su starts to wonder about things her mother has kept from her. As more of her friends are attacked after getting surgery and as Hyeon-su’s mother starts to lose her mind, Hyeon-su must find the answers, all while being stalked by a blue-eyed ghost with a preoccupation for pretty faces.

While I give that the premise is good and the story told in the movie is very interesting as well, I have a lot of problems with Cinderella. I found myself having a lot of trouble understanding what was going on, the filmmakers didn’t do a very good job of emphasizing the supernatural elements so that you knew they were supernatural, and they didn’t do a good job explaining the mother’s dark secret very well either, making it so that the final twist loses its punch (if you actually find yourself not having to look up the Wikipedia article so you can have the final twist explained to you). Not only that, but the flashbacks are often forced on us so rapidly we have trouble figuring out whether we’re in the past or the present. Add in only a few real scares and that just shows how bad this movie is.

For what it’s worth though, the scares, when they do happen, are spectacular and frightening. And they do chronicle Yoonhee’s deterioration into madness quite well. And like I said, the premise is good, and the story they were telling would’ve been more impactful if they’d done a better job making the movie.

All in all, I’m giving Cinderella a 2.4 out of 5. Not great, but it was a good attempt, and if it had been done right, Cinderella might’ve been a great horror movie with an underlying theme of how some people, especially some South Koreans, are obsessed with beauty and achieving it through plastic surgery. I’d suggest a North American remake, but I have a feeling that that would just be another House at the End of the Street: great potential but poor execution.

My next review will probably be the Poltergeist remake coming out later this week. I’m a fan of the original and I’d like to see what they change in this adaptation (besides the little girl being a brunette and the medium being a forty-something Brit) and how scary it is. Judging by the previews, it should be plenty scary.

Otherwise known as a pretty amazing Korean horror film.

I first heard about this film from Rare Horror and was very interested (they’ve turned me onto a couple of interesting films). It took a while, but I finally tracked down and got my hands on a copy of this very strange Korean fantasy/horror film, directed by Yim Pil-sung and starring Chun Jung-myung. I have to say, I’m surprised this one hasn’t been given an American remake yet. It’s definitely the sort of story that makes you think of the success of The Ring or The Grudge.

Hansel and Gretel (or in its Romanized form, Heljelgwa geuretel; don’t ask me for the Hangul, I  don’t know how to get it on this blog) is about a salesman named Eun-soo who has learned that has gone on a trip to visit his sick mother, which may also be an excuse to get away from his girlfriend, who is four weeks pregnant. On the highway he gets into an accident and wakes up in a forest. He meets a young girl who takes Eun-soo to her home, where he meets her parents and her older brother and younger sister. At first glance, they seem like a 1950’s TV family from Korea. But from the moment he arrives, Eun-soo has senses something very strange about the house and the family here, confirmed when the parents up and leave, asking him to watch over the kids. Unable to leave the forest, Eun-soo tries to figure out the mystery of the house and the children and find a way to escape. And when he finally finds out the secret, it’ll change him forever.

This is definitely an interesting film. The sets and cinematography are excellent, like looking at a Christmas tableau with a horror hidden within it (which makes sense, considering Christmas is a running theme in this story). And the acting, especially from the child actors, is amazing. I forgot that these were actors, but thought they were their characters. This film is practically gore-less (yay!), doesn’t have many jump-scares (sad, but whatever), and works hard on building an atmosphere of dread, which works for it (especially if you turn off the lights and watch it in the dark like I did).

There are only two things I don’t like about this film. One is that it’s two hours long and may feel like a drag to people who like fast-paced stories with plenty of jumps and scares.The other is that when we finally find out how this whole creepy thing gets started, it seems a little riddled with cliches. But other than that, it’s a pretty creepy film with lots of dark, fantasy-based beauty. There’s plenty of character development and growth, which can be rare in horror films, and in the end you find yourself being very impressed with this journey you’ve gone on with the character.

I’m giving Hansel and Gretel a 3.5 out of 5. It’s a very strange movie, a lot of fun, and if you get a chance, check it out.  It’s already given me a few ideas for stories, so that’s definitely a good sign. I’ll definitely check out a few more Korean horror films if I can find some. Should be fun and inspiring.