"...the film's sole saving grace: the gore."
- Raging Gaijin
AKA: Scissors, Gawi, Kawee, Horror Game Movie
Director: Byeong-ki Ahn
Writer: Byeong-ki Ahn
Producer: Hyeong-wook Goh
Cast: Gyu-ri Kim, Ji-won Ha, Jeong-yun Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Jun-Sang Yu, Jun Jeong, Hye-yeong Jo
Running Time: 97 min.
Plot: See review below.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
RAGING GAIJIN'S REVIEW: I must be one gullible SOB. Either that or I'm just a glutton for punishment. You see, writer/director Beyong-ki Ahn's "Phone" was easily one the worst Asian horror flick I've ever seen. It chewed up every warmed-over cliché from "Ringu" and "Ju-On" and then spit them back at the viewer. Let's see if the plot sounds familiar to you: the ghost of a dead teenage girl appears as a long-haired apparition to haunt people through an electronic device, and only a plucky female reporter can solve the mystery. Apparently viewers were supposed to lap it up just because it was a big-budget, glossy Korean flick but no production values in the world could hide the fact that movie was dead on arrival. The film's saving grace was a scenery-chewing young actress who played a possessed little girl. Although I'm sure it was Byeong-ki Ahn's intention for us to be scared of her, she just made me laugh; and I'm thankful because without her "Phone" would have been a humorless bore.
Okay, you get the point: I didn't like "Phone" at all. So it was with extreme trepidation that I rented Byeong-ki's previous film "Nightmare". My expectations were about as low as you can get. But guess what? Byeong-ki Ahn managed to do the unthinkable and make a movie that is worse than "Phone". Not only is "Nightmare" one of the worst Asian horror flicks I've ever seen, it's also one of the worst horror flicks from *any* country. You're a sly one, Byeong-ki!
I'm sure you're dying to know the plot. Six college friends gather together two years after graduation to catch up on lost time. The problem is, they seem to be haunted by the ghost of the seventh member of their group, who died while they were still at college. Guilt-ridden over her death, they begin to see a ghostly young girl whose long black hair always manages to fall across her face, who can move really fast, and who can come after you through electronic devices... but don't worry, it's NOT Sadako! I swear, honest.
One by one, the friends begin to drop like flies. Interspersed throughout are flashbacks to their college days. There are lot of young, good-looking Korean actors and actresses pretending to be excited or scared. The most preposterous scene comes when the ghost's hand reaches through the play-back screen of a video camera ? and rips out a Korean dude's eye.
This leads me to the film's sole saving grace: the gore. There's really not a lot of it but what's there is decent. The aforementioned eye-gouging, as well as an earlier scene of a corpse getting its eyes sown shut (with realistic looking eyeball). Another guy gets impaled. A girl falls off a building and lands on a car. Nothing ground-breaking but this is one of those movies that are so dull that you just sit there and anticipate any and all violence just so the mild visceral thrill can confirm you're still alive. There's a little bit of nudity but it's reserved solely for corpses. Maybe viewers who dig chicks without a pulse will enjoy this film the most.
What are really insulting about this film are the moments where Byeong-ki Ahn seems to be trying to pay homage to Hitchcock. There is a scene in particular where the score is channeling Bernard Hermann and one of the characters is explaining his evil plot as rain pours down on the rooftops of Seoul. I don't know if Byeong-ki considers himself in the same category as Hitchcock or just likes his films. Either way, he shouldn't try to connect himself with Hitchcock in any way because he's not even talented enough to have been a key grip on "Psycho". It just reminds people how good Hitchcock was and how bad Byeong-ki's flicks are.
That said, there's one area I have to credit Byeong-ki Ahn on: his movies always look great. The production values and cinematography are top-notch. Yeah, he rips off Dario Argento ("Suspiria" seems to be the main influence in terms of visual style) but on "Nightmare" he has a director of photography *and* a director of lighting and it shows. My advice to Byeong-ki is to stop writing his own scripts and let a professional screenwriter handle the plot from now on. If he stays away from Asian horror clichés and tightens the editing on his films, he could actually make a good movie, one that I might want to watch.
So, Byeong-ki Ahn can take comfort in knowing that he makes the best-looking shitty horror films out there. But no self-respecting Asian horror fan should have to sit through "Nightmare". Just stick to "Suicide Club", "The Eye", or "A Tale of Two Sisters". And Dario Argento and Brian de Palma have over a dozen films that are influenced by Hitchcock and that are actually good. Watch one of those instead.
Now this is a message for Byeong-ki Ahn: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. In other words: you'd have to pay me to sit through another one of your cliché horror movies.
RAGING GAIJIN'S RATING: 4/10