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

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