Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Yeogo gwae-dam 4: Moksori (Voice)

By: Abel Lin

Starring: Ye-Ryeon Cha, Ok-Bin Kim, Seo-Hyeong Kim, Hyeon-Kyeong Lim, Eun-Kyeong Na, Ji-Hye Seo
Directed by: Ik-Hwan Choe
104 minutes

“Sing for me, please.” – Seon-min.

I honestly am a pussy when it comes to watching horror, and I should’ve researched it more before randomly choosing a film from Ki based on a nifty, chic movie title.

When you see a gruesome hand twisting out of a screaming girl’s mouth with blood, and the ONLY two colors on the cover are white and red, you knew shit was going down. I think my mother cried upon seeing the cover, and actually had a bible study with me right after. No joke. This film had better be worth the spiritual trouble.

Voice is actually the fourth official entry in the series that began with 1998’s Whispering Corridors, and was the debut film for its three young actresses, as well as director Choi Ik-hwan. I guess with that said, I can be less harsher on the film. Schoolgirl Yeong-eon dies, wakes up “dead.” Only her bff Seon-min can hear her, and together they must solve the mystery of her death, the “voice” (which has a lot of embodiment with the bonded soul), and the school itself. Dead teachers, dead students, lots of creepy classical choir music. I’m sold.

Though the plot sounds THAT simple, it isn’t. I looked at the “Plot Summary” on wiki, and I guess the world is equally confused as I am with some of the plot devices that Voice uses that I couldn’t tell was either a) a dream sequence, b) a symbolic poster, or c) inverse, backwards flashback about a flash forwards for the latter part of the film. Okay, thank goodness there wasn’t any c, but it was still mildly ambiguous & confusing at some points. Folks may interpret this as “open-ended” and enjoy what others can bring to the table in terms of “whodunit?” or “wow, let’s guess what this movie MEANS to you.” Screw it, you confused me. I shouldn’t be paying for mind games (or in this case, just spending time watching it); I hate you.

Also, it’s surprisingly not that scary, but rather more… disturbing. The director’s purposeful, slow development of the scenes makes it that much more twisted. More motifs, symbolisms, and flashing cut-ins begin.

I must commend Ik-hwan for trying to make a more surreal, deeper horror flick that actually has meaningful violence (if there is such a thing) vs. this crap they’re reeling out with Saw VIII (can’t see eight Saw’s being made? They’re planning on VI already, so why not). But the rather confusing delivery of the plot and the lack of urgency in the film may detract some.

Bottom line: Good production value, very artistic direction hand by Cho Ik-hwan as a debuting director. However, strangely loose plot and ambiguous plot movements dilute it from being an impacting, horror film. 

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