Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Silk (2006) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A special agent assists a group of researchers seeking to harness the energy of ghosts.

Review: The thing I always liked about this movie was that it tried to address horror tropes from a sci-fi perspective. Of course, the film does introduce a Kayako clone, but I don't think they were aiming for raw scares. If anything, "Silk" is more fixated on intrigue and trying to get the viewer thinking. There is certainly a sense of originality to the story, and I could never ignore the abundance of babes at every turn. However, the main problem that stops this film from entering classic status is that there is a sensation of hollowness to the experience. This isn't to say that the story unto itself is weak--it's more along the lines of watching a long episode of TV show. It's hard to explain, but the film does work as a standalone entry while simultaneously not...if that makes sense. The story is complete, yet, the narrative structure is not right for fleshing out the themes or characters. Realistically, "Silk" would have worked better as a side adventure of the main character, Tung. You'd have to see "Silk" for yourself to fully appreciate what I'm getting at, but, suffice it to say, Tung is designed to be something between a superhero and a Jason Bourne type.

So what works with "Silk" is the manner in which the story addresses how ghosts can exist and why. The researchers studying the main ghost--that is like our Toshio equivalent--explain to Tung such things as why most people don't become ghosts while others can become a Kayako and Toshio type. They deal with that notion of ghosts seeing what they want to see and why they can interact physically with the world on occasion. Essentially, all the things we've seen in horror movies, or generic ghost lore outright, is explained away through talk about infinite energy and energy tethers of a sort. I'm not saying it's perfect or everything makes sense, but it's a fun take on the subject matter and a great starting premise.

Since the ghosts cannot create sound conveniently, the researchers need help from Tung. Now, don't get me wrong, Tung is a cool character but he's presented as if we already know him. This would be fine if this were the latest installment in The Adventures of Tung, but that's not what this is. More or less, Tung is a super cop who can read lips and see things most wouldn't. On top of that, he's supposed to be a badass who doesn't bat an eye when blowing away a crazed terrorist and might be the first person to snipe a ghost. Unfortunately, Tung, as well as all the main characters, are not fleshed out despite the running time being adequately allotted. It's like the filmmakers had too many good ideas at once that they couldn't figure out what to prioritize. To their credit, they don't fuck it up...they simply create this vibe that we are walking into a story already long into motion. This is why I say it feels like a TV show episode. As if in the last couple episodes we already dealt with Tung's mom dying and his hesitation to marry his girlfriend.  I don't know, dude, but the narrative structure is improper somehow to say the least.

"Silk" does have thrilling moments, but I would say it leans closer to sci-fi than horror. If you're looking for scares you will mostly be disappointed; though, there are still creepy moments like the opening scene. Instead, what makes this film work is watching Tung try to deal with the mystery surrounding the ghost and seeing the events unfold in a satisfying way. The ending is a bit rushed and lacking full closure, however, it's not a situation where it hurts the final impression. There are shitty effects worth acknowledging yet there are many great effects too. Go figure. Overall, I do think "Silk" is worth checking out regardless of its shortcomings.

Notable Moment: When Tung's car flips. Ignoring that our Kayako clone should not have been subject to the car's momentum--oh god, what an atrocious effect. The director should have cut or faded to black and left the accident implied rather than inserting such an unusable shot.

Final Rating: 6/10

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sweet Home (1989) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A TV crew attempts to film at a deceased painter's mansion but inadvertently awakens the angry spirit of the painter's wife.

Review: The story behind this film is that it was meant to be a tie-in to a video game of the same name. This game would then, allegedly, become the basis for "Resident Evil." Over the years, this hype has created a certain expectation going into a viewing of "Sweet Home." Needless to say, this is not some action-packed adventure you'd expect when hearing "Resident Evil" nor is it a by-the-numbers Japanese ghost story. To me, this was a fucking mess. There are good ideas here and there, especially in regard to the special effects, however, the story is jumbled, the pacing is poor, and the tone is way off. I really couldn't believe how hard it was to slog my way through this. The characters simply made too many stupid decisions, and I was becoming bored out of my mind. If only the '80s charm had rubbed off on the production...

At first glance the general premise is promising enough: a haunted mansion being investigated by a TV crew while leaving room for some creepy paintings action. None of this is realized in a way that you'd hope. If anything the main points being emphasized are a lame family drama mixed with strange instances of comedy for no discernible reason. Because of these aspects, and factoring in that ridiculous, upbeat music, you have a film that has no idea what it wants to be. If that weren't enough, there are these, what I refer to as, break points where the plot kind of resets its theme out of the blue. It's kind of hard to adequately describe so I'll give some examples. At one point you have the dad who is all about saving his daughter and kind of taking on the lead role. Then we shift into his love interest becoming a motherly figure to rescue the daughter. Huh? Or when the old guy shows up with magic powers pulled from his asshole yet is suddenly killed. The flow of events gives off the vibe like the script is being written as the filmmakers shoot the scenes. Due to these lulls in the plot, you get bored with the events quickly as the story drags to pick up momentum. The only redeeming thing is that the payoff is, sorta, worth it when the climax finally comes.

Admittedly, the effects for the deaths are pretty cool. When the ghost finally appears in physical form as a giant monster was also a damn good effect worth acknowledgement; in fact, it's the highlight of the whole movie. Unfortunately, there isn't much else worth mentioning. The lore behind this film and its connection to "Resident Evil" are significantly more interesting than the film itself. On top of my other gripes, I simply feel like there was a lot of potential to waste. You have this backstory with the painter that is never capitalized on with easy opportunity to make a painting come to life or, at the very least, play a part in the story. Likewise, nothing with the cast being a part of a TV crew really contributed to the setup. These could have been people restoring the structure or stranded motorists, or what have you, and virtually nothing would change. I suppose some may be intrigued by "Sweet Home" regardless of the problems, however, you will definitely want to understand this is far from a basis for "Resident Evil" if that's what you're hoping for. I'll give it an average rating for having good ideas and effects which seems fair enough.

Notable Moment: When the wife's ghost takes on the giant monster form. Definitely an impressive creature design.

Final Rating: 5/10

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Whispering Corridors 5: A Blood Pledge Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: When four girls plan to commit suicide together, and only one follows through, dark secrets are revealed as the dead girl's ghost wants the others to join her.

Review: Well, we've come to the final entry (as of 2017), and, sadly, we do not end on a high note. Of course, the potential for a great movie was right there--all the "Whispering Corridors" films having creative premises. The problem with this entry is that it is edited together sloppily, and the story builds toward a laughably idiotic reveal that will have you rolling your eyes. Making matters worse is that the director, or someone on the set, really wanted this to be slasher-esque which does not mesh well with the style of this series. I don't know what went wrong, however, I can at least say "A Blood Pledge" was still better than part 2. So there's that.

In, somewhat, of an attempt to change things up, the girls are at a Catholic school this time around--not that this contributes any unique ideas. At first things start off intriguing with the girls making the titular blood pledge--that they will commit suicide together and that if anyone backs out they will be cursed to die afterward. Minutes later though...only one girl is shown to die, and the mystery of the film is figuring out why the other three backed out and what was the true motivation behind the blood pledge to begin with. Right out the gate, I feel like this was the mistake of the story. Rather than having only one die, there should have been only one survivor. Oh well. Moving along...rumors run rampant around the school about why the one girl committed suicide since the other students know nothing about the pact the girls made. This whole rumor mill plot point goes on too long and eats up a lot of the story unnecessarily. I get that the filmmakers want to convey this notion of petty gossip, but we've put up with this bullshit in every goddamn film thus far! Change shit up.

Unfortunately, the ghost in this entry is fucking stupid and annoying. Instead of going after the main cast, she spends time killing side characters pointlessly. Hell, there is one chick that appears to die, and we don't know who the fuck she even was. Is this really a tale in need of a high body count? Worse yet, the ghost is implied to be somewhat good, hence, making her random, side kills that much more baffling. Come to think of it, this one chick, while a total bitch, was kind of defending the dead girl and yet the ghost still killed her?! Okaaay. These zany antics bring me to another point: there are too many godforsaken background characters chewing up screen time. Who the fuck are any of these extras? And I'm not talking fun extras popping up for 30 seconds like part 4--I'm talking extras who get whole lines of dialogue and appear almost as the secondary cast. Then we have the main chick actually having a boyfriend (a first!) and his mom adding even more useless characters to the mix. It's too much. This shit needs to be consolidated. If this weren't enough, we get a dose of my favorite, schizophrenic-chic editing. We're talking the camera going apeshit, bizarre transitions, cuts to flashbacks out of nowhere, and all manner of shenanigans. My goodness.

And what is the big secret the girls have been keeping? What is the point to any of this? The group never wanted the fourth girl to come in the first place, and the original intention was just to let the main girl die; her motive being she's pregnant and...can't cope(?)...I guess. Wow, what a selfish bitch. Anyway, things went wrong with this fake suicide which leads to the group turning on each other once the ghost is after them. But why did they want the main chick to die? Arrrghhh...jealousy over that dumb boyfriend and the one chick wanting to have high grades. Yes, really! That is a pitiful payoff. The one bitch wanting everyone to die should have been the pregnant one which would have at least made her anger and jealousy believable. You know what, all of these characters are insufferable bitches. Fuck 'em! The only likable person is the ghost's sister who is also not presented properly with a wannabe possession subplot that goes to nowhere-land. Oh, and shocking no one, there is a moronic final zinger with the ghost going after that boyfriend but with a new haircut somehow. They have hairdressers in Korean hell?!

Seriously, what happened here? This started off with so much potential and could have been amazing. The core plot line is imaginative and opened up all manner of possibilities to take the mystery. Admittedly, the filmmakers do a good job of building up the hype to the reveal...but the payoff is unforgivably not worth it. The actors are okay I suppose, but the characters are unlikable and the ghost's presentation is nonsensical. The cast is too big and the background fodder getting killed is a poor substitute for creating legitimate scares. Of course, I can't forget the shit editing since it's an ever-present problem that persists during the entire running time. Overall, this is just a mediocre film that did little to stand out in this series. I think this is probably one of the big reasons why we may never get a part 6.

Notable Moment: When the boyfriend's mom randomly dies by head explosion. This was so randomly stupid and is never acknowledged again. What happened to her car or body? Why was nobody trying to find her as we see the boyfriend at the end, seemingly, oblivious to her death? Ugh. Shit writing.

Final Rating: 5/10

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Whispering Corridors 4: Voice Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The spirit of a girl seeks the help of her best friend in order to uncover the truth behind her mysterious death.

Review: With part 4 they decided to change things up considerably and almost created the best entry. Instead of a plot set into motion surrounding a suicide, we finally get a murder and the mystery as to who was responsible and why. Adding to this much needed change in plot devices, we finally see a school that isn't completely full of hardass teachers and overworked students. It was nice to see students having fun and dealing with school in a normal way--the girls simply being teenagers as you'd imagine them to be. However, the most interesting change of pace is that we have a main character who is actually a ghost. With so much going for this entry, the potential appeared limitless. Unfortunately, everything comes crashing down with a horrendous twist and an ending that completely ruins the main character and the story as a whole. Wonderful.

So...this time around we are at yet another school that could have easily connected to the previous entries. Some maintenance guy mentions that the school is new but the piping and boiler room looks rotten. Precisely! Say that one of the old schools was demolished to make way for this new one but that the spirits of the former carried on. But, nope, let's just make standalone stories. Moving along...we meet the main chickadee, Young-eon, and her best friend, Sun-min, shortly before Young-eon is murdered. They imply immediately that the murderer is another ghost, however, I wish they kept it more vague so that the audience could suspect various classmates or staff. But, yes, there is a ghost already haunting the school that kills Young-eon, turning her into another ghost that is stuck haunting the school too. Due to their strong friendship, Sun-min is still able to hear Young-eon's ghost speaking but can't see her. Unable to figure out what happened, Young-eon and Sun-min proceed to unravel the mystery together. This aspect is the best part to the film, because it is reminiscent of the classic whodunnit style yet takes a unique spin on the genre. Later on, the most likely suspect, Young-eon's music teacher, is killed as well which only deepens the mystery.

The horror elements are not sacrificed either since the first ghost is still roaming the halls, seemingly possessing supernatural powers of sorts. This addition to the plot makes the events feel time sensitive--as if the mystery needs to be solved before the ghost can strike again. But just when things are really picking up, the cracks in the story emerge. First, it is proposed that Young-eon might only be remembering what she wants to remember. This plot element could work, however, they do not handle this material properly. We are introduced to another girl, Cho-ah, who can naturally sense ghosts, and she tells Sun-min to merely let everything go. I think some of these plot tangents probably made more sense in the script, with this idea of Sun-min suddenly not trusting Young-eon, but the direction in the film doesn't really convey this. Besides, it's only been a few days and best friends wouldn't turn on each other that quickly no matter what truth they discovered. Regardless, this brings me to the big twist and ridiculous ending. As it turns out, Young-eon is actually supposed to be evil...I guess...and forgot about this fact. We are shown that she drove her dying mother to suicide, tried to get the ghost to disappear from existence originally, and she was the one who killed the music teacher. Furthermore, it was this attempt to get rid of the ghost in the first place that caused that ghost to kill Young-eon. Finally, embracing her dark side once she remembers it, Young-eon kills Cho-ah and magically possesses Sun-min permanently. One problem: you can't establish all damn movie long how nice Young-eon was and how deep her friendship was with Sun-min! How the hell would that same girl be all sentimental with an old walkman, hide her evil side from Sun-min (since apparently third grade when they met), and do anything remotely thoughtful as we see from Sun-min's flashbacks of their friendship?! Argh...what a disappointment and a lame payoff. Hell, if Young-eon wanted to get rid of the ghost, hence, knowing of its existence, then why would she have been all scared when it appeared at the beginning of the movie?! What the fuck were they thinking?

If it weren't for the utter shit ending--and had the conclusion actually delivered something satisfying--I could have seen this eclipsing "Wishing Stairs." Instead, due to the complete betrayal to the audience, I want to say this entry is a tad weaker than part 1. For me, endings can fuck up the rating I give, so I do want to stress that others may actually appreciate this ending or prefer it. Taking the other film making aspects into account individually, then "Voice" is still a strong story with numerous, cool ideas worthy of respect. The mystery is quite intriguing, and the actresses are believable with the extras feeling realistic due to the little details they do. The scares, while few in number, are decent enough with plenty of instances of creative lighting and camerawork. Lastly, the friendship displayed was heartwarming (before being ruined), and the way that the story fixates on a character's voice and singing was presented remarkably well. I do still enjoy this installment a lot, but it's hard to recommend when I know how cheated people might feel once it's over. Oh well.

Notable Moment: When Young-eon and Sun-min seemingly go to elevator hell. It was a pretty creepy concept, although, I'm not really sure what they were trying to demonstrate? Is it supposed to be a vision of the afterlife or a kind of dimension that the ghosts reside in when not seen? Nevertheless, I loved that foreboding darkness and the way the filmmakers presented a vast sense of scope.

Final Rating: 6/10

Monday, May 15, 2017

Whispering Corridors 3: Wishing Stairs Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Rumor has it that if you climb a certain staircase, counting the 28 steps aloud, then a 29th step will appear and your wish will be granted.

Review: Okay, I take it back, this was better than part 1; I must have been snorting coke and imagining parts from "Memento Mori" mixing with "Wishing Stairs." More or less, every aspect has been improved upon over part 1, and, it goes without saying, "Wishing Stairs" is leaps and bounds beyond part 2. Funnily enough, I noticed "Memento Mori" has the highest rating on IMDb of the five films. would. Anyway, "Wishing Stairs" brings us an original and creative premise combined with excellent cinematography and a dreary tone. The story can slip into bouts of incoherence, however, it never ceases to engage the audience. Keeping the characters limited, and the plot heavily focused, also helped elevate it over the nonsense with part 2. Likewise, the ending this time around is fitting--though, I would have liked a bigger payoff after an intense climax. I want to add that they still blew a chance to connect this to part 1. I mean, there is even a scene in the first entry where we see a stairwell similar to the one featured in this installment. Ugh.

This time around we have two best friends training to be ballerinas, So-hee and Jin-sung. When So-hee appears to be a shoo-in for a prestigious position at a Russian school, unspoken jealousy and rivalry emerges to pull the girls apart. I have read countless reviews ponder whether or not these two characters were also lesbians similarly to part 2, but I just don't see it. Look, I've seen my fair share of questionable Korean girls in films, but these two simply appear as good friends with absolutely no scenes of romantic tension or any ambiguous looks, dialogue, or interactions. If you want to see them as potential lesbians that's fine, but I think that's just a viewer seeing what they want to see. Moving along...while we see the jealousy growing with Jin-sung, a third character, Hye-ju, serves to introduce the audience to the wishing stairs urban legend: if you climb a particular stairwell, counting each of the 28 steps aloud, then a 29th step will appear and you will be able to have any wish granted. Apparently, as the only fat chick in the school, Hye-ju, tests the stairs and wishes to be thin. I love how no one is shocked that she lost the weight practically overnight! Realizing she stands no chance of beating So-hee, and seeing the power of the wishing stairs firsthand, Jin-sung climbs the stairs and wishes to win. The wish is granted by making So-hee become crippled during an accident involving Jin-sung, however, later, So-hee is driven to suicide as well. With So-hee now completely out of the picture, Jin-sung ends up winning that position with the Russian school.

Taking up the scares a notch, Hye-ju, obsessed with So-hee, wishes her back. Now as a vengeful ghost, So-hee semi-possesses Hye-ju and appears as a phantom to haunt Jin-sung. What works so well is that both So-hee and Jin-sung are likable in their own way. So-hee is an all around sweetheart--really cute too--and Jin-sung's envy is understandable. Jin-sung didn't realize the consequences of her wish, did not intentionally want harm to come to So-hee, and was genuinely regretful for the rest of the film. By the end, when Jin-sung tries to wish So-hee back to being dead and So-hee has her revenge, you feel bad for both of them. Enhancing this resolution were some impressive aspects to the cinematography. The entire picture has this dark and damp coating, establishing a moody tone that matches the characters' emotions. On top of that, there were basic set choices that looked good and added a layer of detail that is appreciated. Finally, I loved the idea behind the ghost's general concept despite the lack of usage. A ghostly ballerina is great, and something such as the shot of her bloody foot dancing through the hall with a piece of glass stuck in it--that works! It's just a shame they didn't further capitalize on everything they had going on here--like they were in a rush to get through the story or something. On the plus side, the pacing is slick for a story that is essentially building up to the ghost's appearance and revenge.

 Actually...she might be one of the cutest ghosts we've seen over the years.

The only major drawbacks tend to surround the Hye-ju character since it felt like the filmmakers weren't fully certain on how to make her relevant to the action. Furthermore, the story does go off the rails a few times as if momentarily dipping into psychological horror rather than the clear depiction of supernatural horror we are dealing with. Nevertheless, and in spite of the shortcomings, this was way better than I remembered; in fact, it was pretty damn good at times. Sure, this isn't exactly going to keep anyone up at night, but the scares were decent enough to get the job done and the ghost's design was somewhat original. The heart of the story is where the fun is at since you have a combination of rivalry, jealousy, and friendship colliding. Throw in an unsettling urban legend, a dab of wish-granting, and you've got a recipe for a solid sequel that easily stands by itself.

Notable Moment: When So-hee appears in that ghostly, ballerina form. A respectable makeup effect coupled with a creepy concept, and, yet, they only used this form for a couple of shots...? Huh? What a waste.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Whispering Corridors 2: Memento Mori Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Zany antics of the highest order unfold at an all-girls school after a student commits suicide.

Review: What the fuck were they thinking with this film? Not only is this the worst entry in the franchise, it hardly even qualifies as a horror movie. The story doesn't get going until around 35 minutes, and the closest thing to a horror element doesn't pop up until the damn 55 minute mark. Seriously, what the hell?! Essentially, this is an angsty teen drama, with heavy emphasis on being pretentious, and a few horror scenes chucked into the mix for the trailer's sake. Making matters worse, this poor decision to create sequels unconnected to one another was so monumentally stupid that it boggles my mind to no end. And the setup was right there--just set the story at the same school and make a few, tiny references to the previous movie or include one teacher back or something. But noooo, let's make a fucking drama about two attention-seeking lesbians who are completely unlikable along with an entire cast of insufferable bitches. Yes, brilliant.

So, I don't know what bullshit plot summary you may have read out there, but, chances are, it's nonsense meant to make this movie sound interesting. All we actually get is the main chick finds this diary that was shared by these lesbians; I guess this might have been a taboo subject matter at the time. While reading the diary, we get countless flashbacks that are meant to endear us to this relationship and these characters, but, instead, it comes off as unhealthy and the lovers are painfully annoying. They always discuss committing suicide, one cheats on the other--possibly getting pregnant--while the other is implied to have cheated as well, and the two are all too eager to betray and humiliate the other heartlessly. Once their relationship falls to pieces, one of them, seemingly, commits suicide only to later haunt the school. Two things about this suicide: one, why does the movie establish a mystery that hints the girl was murdered only to show us she wasn't and that there is no mystery whatsoever? And two, the editing is such utter shit that I can't tell if the events of the film are all in the same day the girl died or if some unknown passage of time has gone by. It really is that difficult to discern, because the characters act as if a lot of time has passed yet there are no transition scenes; the flow of events give the impression that the story all takes place in one day and night.

After spending the majority of the running time showing us these awful characters, we finally get the suicide girl coming back as a ghost that looks totally normal. Her haunting strategy makes little sense with her doing the most random of shit like locking a bathroom door, something with a little birdie flapping around, appearing as a giant face on the ceiling (pitiful effect by the way), and all around shenanigans. At this point in the film, the director was like, "I want more pretentiousness, goddamn it!" This leads to a dream sequence with a birthday party, slow motion, and the audacity to end the movie out of nowhere with no resolution. Oh, you want an actual ending? Too bad. Argh! You know, the funny thing is that this nonsense story line could have worked if they restructured the narrative. Instead of making all the events recent, the movie should have began with the main chick finding the diary long after the one chick committed suicide. Make finding the diary itself what awakens the ghost--which would fit the title better anyway(!)--and have the main chick slowly become haunted or possessed as she tries to read through the diary. Then you can cue the flashbacks in order for the audience to see this relationship spiral out of control all the while the ghost grows more restless between scenes. Once we reach the climax, maybe have the main chick possessed and used by the ghost to confront the living lover and bring final closure to everything. Lastly, and this is key, make the characters less angsty and pains in the ass; make them normal and likable. See...that wouldn't have been so hard.

I've always had a special hatred for this film for being a drama masquerading as a horror and for squandering the chance to make "Whispering Corridors" a franchise of true merit. The only redeeming qualities are a few decent actors, okay camerawork, and the handful of good ideas like the way the diary is designed. Unfortunately, the film fails completely as a horror, is not good as a drama, and is unforgivably boring and slow. Despite these tremendous flaws, I was still close to giving this an average rating until the "ending" came along; I must have blocked that dumbass decision out of my memory, because I could have sworn there was an actual conclusion. Overall, "Memento Mori" is absolute shit from start to finish. The only plus to each film standing alone is that it doesn't matter if you skip one...which is what I'd highly recommend doing here.

Notable Moment: Well, there are plenty of moronic scenes like just casually saying the lesbians can communicate through telepathy because who doesn't? However, I guess I'll go with the one time the film was sorta funny with the girls taking physicals. One chick was like don't tell them my chest size (that's a thing?) and the teacher yelled it. Another one kept trying to seem taller, and then we had the chick whose weight went up after a second measuring. I mean, if this really were a drama it would be an amusing interlude, but these are the scenes the director felt crucial to add to an, alleged, horror movie already ridiculously light on scares?!

Final Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Whispering Corridors Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After a teacher seemingly commits suicide, the students and staff at an all-girls school realize a vengeful spirit has been awakened.

Review: The best way to sum up this franchise: one, giant missed opportunity. Each entry focuses on an all-girls school, along with the ghostly shenanigans that ensue, yet they don't bother with any form of continuity, reuse of characters, or make any kind of references whatsoever. It's a shame too, because the groundwork for something amazing was laid out in this first "Whispering Corridors." In fact, this first installment is probably the best with all things considered (though, I do like part 4). You get a solid mystery, interesting characters, and a, mostly, satisfying, the main girls are all really good looking. You can't go wrong there! Unfortunately, like most of the entries in this series, the pacing is excruciatingly slow. And it's not a deliberate buildup of tension or anything--the directors just like dicking around with unnecessary drama in each installment. Now, before I start rattling on too much about the sequels, let's focus on the original.

What I like about this entry is that they get the ball rolling out the gate. We get an appearance by the ghost as she kills a teacher and makes it look like suicide. The last thing the teacher was doing was trying to make a connection with yearbooks which, in turn, makes the audience intrigued by where this is all going. Accentuating the mystery further is a plethora of red herring characters. Are they family members wanting revenge? Possessed? Or are things not as we believe them to be at all? Hmm! Though, these characters are not entirely handled in the best way--with numerous plot tangents amounting to nothing--I can appreciate the mystery unraveling in such a way that you are even questioning the main girl's involvement in all of this; that's impressive. Of course, the final twist is painfully predictable for a horror vet, but I still commend the buildup to the reveal. I want to further point out that the characters are well acted by our cast of beauties, however, surprisingly, a guy steals the show here. That one douche teacher was so over the top of an asshole that he became amusing; definitely a love to hate situation. Apparently teachers can just freely berate and beat the shit out of their students in Korea. Probably could use a lot of that in the USA to be honest.

While I appreciate the characters, the mystery, and the general premise, I can't deny that many of the negatives associated with this franchise began right here. Obviously you have the pacing issues I mentioned, but then there is the melodrama surrounding the girls. Take things down a notch, and put focus on your horror elements. I'm all for building up strong, believable characters, however, I don't want there to be only two moments that could be classified as horror before the climax rolls around; that is shenanigans I can't support. As for the final's utterly preposterous from a logistics perspective. You're telling me no one--neither staff nor student--noticed the same dead girl enrolling at school for almost a decade?! Besides, how does she get her paperwork through, and why would she even bother showing up for the yearbook photo knowing someone might put the pieces together? Believe me, the more you think about this ghost's scheme the more ludicrous it sounds. And don't get me started on the zinger since it makes even less sense and is clearly never continued with in any sequel. These kind of zany antics and questionable decisions will come back to haunt (hehe) each subsequent entry.

I have always wanted to like this series due to each entry's intriguing and original premise, but the filmmakers usually squander those great ideas. For the original "Whispering Corridors," I felt they mostly succeeded and kept things straightforward which is atypical for Korean horror. There may be some holes in the ghost's plan--and by some I mean a shit ton--but the mystery is considerably strong leading up to the final revelation. More so, the mystery is executed quite well with the assistance of many lovely ladies who do add some heart to their performances. The lull between each horror scene is, admittedly, too long, yet, the story is engaging enough to keep you entertained nonetheless. With some fine-tuning this could have been phenomenal and quite scary, but, instead we must settle for pretty good. "Whispering Corridors" is certainly worth a watch but, keep in mind, that it's the kind of scary you could easily watch alone, in the dark, at midnight in a haunted house with a crazed killer on the loose.

Notable Moment: When the classroom appears to rain blood out of nowhere. I suppose this is to signify that the ghost is gone, but then why was Ji-oh seeing a stain on the ceiling throughout the film?

Final Rating: 6/10

Friday, May 5, 2017

Horror Stories 3 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: In this third entry of the franchise, the filmmakers decided to take a more sci-fi-oriented approach to the horror.

Review: The first "Horror Stories" was pretty good, but part 3 decided to follow in the same footsteps as part 2 and be mediocre as hell. In fact, I'd say this was actually worse than "Horror Stories 2" except this film was somewhat salvaged by a few legitimate scares in one story. I don't know what they were thinking mixing this particular group of tales with a sci-fi tone--the entire experience comes off as a complete fucking mess. Either continue on with grounded horror segments, like the first 2 entries, or commit to the sci-fi angle! Come on, Korea, let's have some creative and fun stories to tell in this series. Between 3 movies there still isn't a standout story yet and that's sad.

Wraparound/A Girl From Mars: This was absolute nonsense of the highest order. You cannot possibly cram this much material into tiny interludes that are, maybe, three to five minutes in length. We've got something about humans fighting robots in the future, and the robots are hiding out near Titan (one of the moons of Saturn). Some little girl decides to hide with robots claiming that she also hates humans since she's really a Martian. So Martians are real and just happen to look like Korean girls or is she just trying to trick the robots into sparing her? Who knows. Regardless, the little girl decides to explain her hate for humans with various stories. Now, on some level this could have been okay had the stories all had a theme of bad human behavior that proved the Martian and robot's point...but there are no intelligent decisions made in the direction here. After the third tale is told the robots say they have launched an asteroid at Earth which is supposed to kill all humans. Then the Martian girl and the robots will guess. But, uh oh, what's this? One human guy if he's going to somehow destroy the universe or something. In a nutshell: this segment is fucking retarded. It makes no sense, ends moronically, and explains nothing while also failing to connect to the film as a whole in any feasible, thematic way.

Fox Valley: One minute we're in space and next thing you know we're in the distant past. Sure, why not? Some wimpy dude who keeps rattling on about being a politician has hurt his leg when a stranger assists him. You'd think this chance encounter would connect to the plot, but--see--that would be this pesky thing called making sense. Instead, the two strangers end up staying in a village inhabited by obvious monsters. As with the wraparound, they throw way, way too much into the story that has little to no explanation like this dead son, some rapey daughter in law, a giant creature in a mountain, digging to said creature, etc. Again, what a fucking mess--keep focus! It's like taking a 100 page script and reducing it down to 10 yet not cutting any plot tangents. Anyway, the story ends when the wimpy dude gets to some temple and is chased down by this giant, seemingly, crab-like creature that was living inside some mountain. And that's it. Oh, and the editing is that precious schizophrenic-chic I love so much. Thanks...appreciate it.

Road Rage: Now we jump to modern times with a decent, yet cliched, segment that is at least smart enough to play the story straight. A couple is bickering while driving on a long highway right as they cross paths with a psychotic truck driver. There is a cat and mouse back and forth with the two vehicles until the truck driver has had enough playing around. Once the truck driver has mangled the couple's car, he loads them into the back of his dump truck and intends to drop them out of the back at a high speed, attempting to make them go splat on the road. With some quick thinking from the wife, the two manage to survive and eventually turn the tables on the truck driver. The story ends with the couple doing to the truck driver what he intended to do to them. Aww man, I need a girl like that! Sure, this isn't the most original of tales, but it had good pacing and did its job as an anthology segment.

Robot Spirit: Finally, we come to the best story of the bunch...not that this is saying much. We are back in the future again but not quite as far along as the wraparound. Here, we have a mother/son duo who treat the son's robotic companion similarly to a pet. When the robot begins to malfunction, the mother decides it's best to shut the companion down permanently and buy a new model. However, somehow the first robot's ghost seemingly haunts and possesses the new one. makes no sense--surprising, right--however, if you can try to ignore this aspect, the scares are not bad at all. While the story attempts to explain things through sci-fi shenanigans, it does present itself in a supernatural way. Some of the ideas are really creepy with the robot, Dunko, looking quite freaky at times. There was a dream sequence that was especially frightening which kind of made it annoying that it was only a dream. At the end, the robot somehow downloads itself into the son and they've magically become one being of sorts. Okay, that part is dumb and predictable, but there were a considerable amount of fun ideas strewn about this segment. Essentially, this segment alone elevated my final rating into the average category, because I fully intended to put "Horror Stories 3" at a 4.5/10.

Overall, I'm about to lose hope for this franchise. The idea of an ongoing, horror anthology series sounded so awesome, but, so far, the results have been pure mediocrity. The wraparounds have had no connection to the stories being told, the individual tales typically suck and make no sense, and there is no sense of fun to be had with things like reoccurring characters or trying to make some tales exist in the same general universe. I don't care if they steal my ideas to improve--just fucking improve! Look, you want a "Horror Stories 4" that doesn't suck ass? Have the wraparound directly tie into each segment. Next, try to create associations with previous segments even if it's just the finest of details; this will give audiences an actual reason to revisit past entries. If possible, get actors who would be willing to come back if even for cameo roles in subsequent tales. A character who at least pops up in every movie would be a great way to entertain the audience, and you almost had this with the girl from part 1's wraparound. Lastly, and most importantly, get better goddamn writers and coordinate these stories with one another. Start by establishing a primary theme ahead of time. Here, sci-fi-horror could have worked if all the tales supported that theme. Ugh. Needless to say, I do not recommend wasting your time on this one. Maybe watch an individual tale if it sounds interesting, but the film as a whole is a letdown.

Notable Moment: During the Road Rage segment when the husband tries to fight the truck driver with an umbrella. An umbrella...

Final Rating: 5/10

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

TXT (Filipino 2006) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After her abusive boyfriend is killed, a woman is haunted by his vengeful spirit.

Review: To kick off this year's Asian horror month I thought I'd start with a Filipino film starring the beautiful and sultry, Angel Locsin. Unfortunately, Ms. Locsin is the only thing going for this "One Missed Call" ripoff. Maybe that's not fair--"TXT" did give us a male ghost for once...which just reminds me why sticking to a female ghost is the way to go. It's the hair I tell you! Actually, the main reason why the ghost looks so lame is due to terrible lighting. Unless you have a makeup effect akin to Natre, coupled with the naturally creepy face of Achita Sikamana, you will need lighting techniques to enhance the look; either that or fuck with the color of the picture flat out. Besides failing entirely with the scares, the story is too generic, drawn out, and boring, needlessly clocking in at almost two hours; dude, your story ain't that fucking compelling. Actually, this probably wouldn't have been half bad if Ms. Locsin were cast as the ghost and they played it more sexy. Hmmm...a man can dream...

 These chickadees and their fuckin' smirks!

So the story begins right as the boyfriend, Roman, is killed in a car accident while Ms. Locsin's character, Joyce, is driving. I love that he mockingly calls her Joycey-girl. Anyway, shortly after this incident, Roman returns as a ghost bent on killing anyone that badmouths him in death. Yeaaah...I wish I were making that up for his motivation. Roman's strategy is to send a photo text from the future of that person's death. Don't even think about the logistics of how this works. Unlike "One Missed Call" where this kinda made sense in context, in "TXT" this feels so forced rather than an inescapable destiny. While Joycey-girl's friends begin to die, she realizes that the guy she has been friendzoning for god knows how long, Alex, is the man for her. Oh goodness gracious. Well, better late than never, right? With the help of some spiritualist, or whatever the hell he was, Joycey-girl realizes that Roman actually wants her to somehow be bound with him in death. Come to think of it, did this film ever suggest a way to even defeat Roman? Could have called Sam and Dean at the very least. At the end, once Joyce manages to escape this binding to Roman, Roman magically gains the ability to possess Alex. And just as you think the climax is about to commence, the film suddenly ends as if Alex becoming possessed was like this big plot twist or something. Typically, I'd suggest ways to continue on with a sequel, but fuck this shit! Or, you know what, how about the porn parody: SXXXT. Huh? Huh?

I'd like to imagine this is how she looks when reading my review. So angry yet so sexy!

I was almost going to give this an average rating since it's not complete garbage, but that ending combined with the running time is what killed it for me. The scares are weak, the ghost looks cheap, the pacing is horrendous, the characters are stock, and the story lacks originality. On the other hand, this is a rare instance of a male ghost and Angel Locsin is easily one of the most attractive Filipinas ever. Believe me, there are better Filipino horror movies out there like "Sukob" and "Feng Shui," but those don't have Ms. Locsin so it's a trade-off. Unless you're a big fan of someone involved with this production, I'd suggest passing on "TXT."

Notable Moment: When Ida is trying to act all tough in the cemetery. This scene is so comically stupid and over the top that it becomes awesome!

Final Rating: 4.5/10