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April 07, 2009

Voices

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Du saram-yida
Oh Ki-hwan - 2007
Lionsgate Region 1 DVD

For those who complained about the selection of films offered by Tartan Asia Extreme, Voices could well make you change your mind. As handsomely produced as it is, the Korean Voices is also so derivative that I'm almost convinced it was for that reason the film was included in the "After Dark Horrorfest" series of eight films just released on DVD. I'm not familiar with the comic book that served as the basis for the film. Voices is a mash-up of elements from Whispering Corridors with its high school girl protagonist, The Grudge's family curse, and a plot twist familiar to all who have seen A Tale of Two Sisters. Even worse, the more that is explained, the less the film makes any kind of sense.

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Voices, a title that seems randomly chosen, begins with a small boy finding his mother dead, blood smearing the illuminated television set. News reports feature stories about random murders taking place. Ga-in and her family attend a wedding celebration which ends when the bride, Ga-in's aunt, falls from a balcony to the floor. Later that night, Ga-in witnesses her hospitalized aunt being murdered by another woman. Afterwards, Ga-in finds her relationships with schoolmates and teachers more troubled. Another class mate, a young man with a mysterious past, advises Ga-in to trust no one, not even herself.

There is little about Kang Kyung-ok or the original story available in English. What seem apparent is that the filmmakers had little confidence in Kang's story, and in the process created a film generic in the worse sense, and incoherent. Replacing the title, which translates as "Someone Behind You" does the film no favors as well in attracting an English language audience. If there is any reason to bother with Voices, it is to see young Yun Jin-seo in one of her few films readily available for western viewers. Previously Yun was seen in supporting roles for Park Chan-wook's Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Yun will hopefully be seen in better films more deserving of her capabilities.

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Posted by peter at April 7, 2009 12:02 AM