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October 21, 2006

Phone

phone.jpg

Pon
Ahn Byeong-ki - 2002
Tartan Video Region 1 DVD

The image that you see on your computer is an apparition seen by Ha Ji-won on her computer in Phone. This Korean horror film is similar to other Asian horror films in that there is some very nice imagery and obvious craftsmanship, but the story doesn't make a whole lot of sense. In this case there is a cursed phone number, causing the person answering to hear strange sounds and get extremely upset. The phone number has been associated with several people who died under suspicious circumstances. There is also a ghost that plays "Moonlight Sonata", and a little girl who seems to be possessed. Some of the mystery is explained, while the rest remains unanswered. At least director Ahn is honest enough to admit that he was inspired by Ringu.

English may not be their first language, but certainly someone should have talked to the filmmakers who named their company "Toilet Productions". Phone might have been better had more time been spent on the screenplay. The initial premise is that Ms. Ha is getting harrassing calls as a result of her work as a journalist. As she has written articles exposing, as it were, sexual predators, the set-up becomes nothing more than a lurid gimmick quickly forgotten after the film concentrates on the possessed young girl. Even the concept of ghosts appearing on computer screens or speaking over the phone, while creepy, has been done better by Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Takashi Miike. Based on what I've been able to find out about Ahn's most recent films, Ouija Board and APT., originality is not his strong suit. Phone is so totally derivative that it can serve as the Cliffs Notes version for most of the cliches of the contemporary Asian horror film.

Posted by peter at October 21, 2006 04:58 PM