The Wig (2005)

SEPTEMBER 11, 2008


The last thing I expect from a movie called The Wig (Korean: Gabal), which is about a haunted wig, is that it would be kind of sad. And not sad in a “Someone put money up for a movie about a haunted wig” way; sad in a “Wow I actually kind of feel bad for just about everyone in this movie” way. I also wasn’t really expecting it to be any good.

Wisely avoiding having a goddamn hairpiece running amok and killing folks, it’s actually a borderline metaphor for a woman losing her identity. I mean, yeah, it IS haunted and thus there are a few scare scenes that more or less revolve around strands of hair moving around, but its still nowhere near as schlocky or even “fun” as I thought it would be. The body count is one of the lowest in ages too, I think the total number of deaths in the film is like, three. However, those rare kill scenes are pretty damn great, particularly a car crash about halfway through that would fit right at home in one of the Final Destination movies.

So what IS in the movie’s 103 minutes? Well, that’s where it gets a bit cloudy. I THINK I get it all now, but there are times in the film where I am just completely baffled as to who is who and when we are in the narrative. Flashbacks don’t seem to have the usual “blur-o-vision” or desaturated color normally associated with such scenes, and there is also a peculiar directorial choice that makes characters actually walking around in flashbacks of their younger selves. And since the whole movie kind of revolves around a girl whose possessed hair makes her turn into a former lover of the film’s only male character, it just gets a bit too hard to follow at times. There is also a mute character who mouths stuff, so we get subtitles for her “dialogue” even when she’s not even on screen, another head-scratching plot device (not often implemented, thankfully).

But when it’s easy to follow, it’s pretty damn good. I liked both of the main characters, and seeing their downfall was heartbreaking. The music is a big part of that; it’s one of the best scores I’ve heard in ages. I even let the main menu loop for a while so I could listen to 20 seconds of the main theme over and over. The acting is also quite good, particularly Seon Yu as the mute sister who starts the film as the secondary character and you eventually realize that the movie is just as much about her as the “heroine”.

I also really like how they finally decided to LITERALLY make a horror movie about long dark hair, since that’s sort of a big part of the iconic image behind a good half dozen of the bigger horror titles from the East.

The DVD has a few extras, one of which is pretty good as it includes the thoughts of the film’s soft-spoken director, Shin-yeon Won. There is also a piece on the special effects that is pretty entertaining. Not so much is the “Behind the Scenes”, which is just a bunch of random, well, behind the scenes footage. No commentary or interviews accompany the footage, so it’s pretty much skippable. The movie itself is the real draw, and I thank the cast and crew for making something that’s more Eye 2 (a damn good film) than Grudge (not so much). We need more of these! Leave our goddamn electronics alone and start haunting our donated body parts!

What say you?


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