APRIL 12, 2011
I forget where I first heard about the Whispering Corridors series, but it wasn’t too long ago, so when I saw one in my On Demand offerings (of which nothing else could have qualified for HMAD) I did a little digging to see if it was something I could watch without having seen the others. Lo and behold, Voice, aka Whispering Corridors 4 (Korean: Yeogo gwae-dam 4: Moksori), is not related to the others, nor do any of them have anything to do with one another. It’s just a loose series of movies that take place in haunted all-girls schools.
Well hopefully the others are a bit faster paced, if I ever get around to watching them. At first I was enjoying the slower pace, as we were spending a lot of time developing the protagonists (not too common in these things). I also liked how the movie depicted the girl realizing she was a ghost – rather than drag it out forever, she notices almost instantly that some dripping water is passing through her. And she’s stuck in the school where she died, something that director Choi Ik-Hwan depicts quite interestingly (she will run for a door that leads outside and it will sort of holo-morph into the room she had just come from) – it’s like they are getting this sort of stuff out of the way as quickly as possible (and with visually unique ways) so they can get to the meat of the story.
But the story drags, unfortunately, and as the film went on I found myself losing interest at an ever-accelerating pace, to the point where I actually yelled “END!” at my TV. But in my defense, throughout the movie we got little title cards that said what day it was in terms of the main girl becoming a ghost: 1st day, 2nd day, etc... and then “final day”. However, once the events of this day pass, it fades out... and then fades back up with “One month later” card and another 10 minutes. Screw you, movie! You promised a “final” day!
Plus, it got a bit too twist-heavy for my tastes at the end, where a protagonist suddenly becomes an antagonist, someone gets possessed, we find out some stuff was actually a flashback... etc. The movie was surprisingly easy to follow for the most part, and it even had someone standing there giving exposition, which is rare for a K-horror film (they usually just leave it up to your thinking skills rather than spelling things out), but then it’s like the writer felt he had to restore balance to the K-force by going all out with the muddled plot turns and general nonsense that besieges a lot of these films. It wasn’t as “WHAT?” as Yoga, but it got pretty close, and at least that movie was pretty weird throughout the runtime.
However, one thing I liked was that it felt like The Eye 2 or Re-Cycle, in that it was using some standard horror elements as the backdrop for a more personal story about someone dealing with guilt. It basically comes down to people having all of these ghost problems because they didn’t say something when they should have, or tried ignoring a problem. It’s not quite as moving as those other films, but at least that was the intent, unlike say the Ringu or Ju-On films, where the protagonists are somewhat blank slates. It’s nice to have a horror film where the characters’ actions, relationships, and other more personal attributes have a direct link with the horror part of the story, instead of “I’m a reporter and I want to know why this ghost is here” or whatever.
I was also impressed by its technical merits. The entire movie takes place in a high school, which is sort of bland by design, but Ik-Hwan continually finds ways to make it visually interesting, particularly during the few kill scenes (love the suped up red look in the elevator scene), and uses CGI sparingly, often to positive effect (such as the “trails” that float throughout the school – they reminded me of the places where you pick up magic in Final Fantasy VIII), though the CG glass shards in the final kill looked terrible. The actors were all also quite good; this was the first movie for all three of the young female leads, but they all delivered good, well-rounded performances, and easily overcame potential hurdles (i.e. they’re all wearing the same clothes and are about the same height/size) in creating characters that contrasted from one another without the obvious benefit of audience familiarity on their side.
Anyone see any of the other Whispering Corridors? Which ones are a bit more BC-friendly? I guess there are five in total – I have “no choice” but to see them all eventually (HMAD ends when I can’t find any more movies! Or just get sick of it, I guess), but I’d be more excited about the others if the next one I watched really knocked it out of the park.
What say you?