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STUDIO: Tartan Video
RUNNING TIME: 105 Minutes
• Photo Gallery
"It’s The Usual Suspects set in a Korean all-girls school only instead of the audience trying to figure out who is Keyser Soze, they’re trying to figure out who’s the ghost. Plus: young girls in school uniforms."
Kang-hie Choi, Gyu-ri Kim, Mi-yeon Lee, Jin-hie Park, Ji-hye Yun
Late one night a veteran teacher sifts through old yearbooks and discovers that all three years there was a murder at their private all-girls school that a similar-looking student was in attendance. Before she can divulge the student’s identity, she spontaneously commits ghost-assisted suicide. A new teacher, who happens to be an alumna of the school, is brought in as a replacement and befriends students Jae-yi Yoon and Ji-oh Lim. As the deaths at the school become increasingly violent, we discover which student is the ghost… or do we?
"Oh Mr. Tierney… a history of mental illness.
No wonder he’s so fucked up."
American horror films were ruined in the late 90s by one Mr. Wes Craven and one Mr. Kevin Williamson. I’m not saying that Scream was a poor film. Far from it, actually. Its self-aware, self-referential acknowledgement of horror clichés was rewarding for fans of the genre. It was the aftermath that made for an era of annoyance for horror fans. An acknowledgement of the basic workings of a horror film is one thing, relishing and repeating them is another. The worst offenders were the two sequels to Scream themselves. Luckily for fans, the Asian countries were still making real horror.
Whispering Corridors was originally released in 1998, the same year as Japan’s Ringu. What Corridors director Ki-Hyung Park understood is that to creep out your audience, you need a healthy dose of atmosphere. That means slowing down and building tension. It helps if you don’t know who a killer is or why they kill. Keeping those reveals secret means you’ll never know who’ll be taking a clay knife to the chest and who’s safe by virtue of being supernatural. Corridors‘ setting never leaves the confines of the school. At the beginning of the film we explore the exterior of the buildings but as the film progresses we are limited to tighter confines. This is an effective technique in giving us a sense of claustrophobia. What we have here is an expertly assembled flick. Everything in place lends itself to keeping you on edge. Although the majority of the dread you feel while watching this film is from a slow burn, there is one particular scene that will make you jump. It’s a series of shots originally used in the 1922 film Nosferatu. You’ll know it when you see, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
"Would you like a Product Placement Soda?
It’s fresh taste is like the ocean air after a summer rain."
The mystery aspect of the film is less important than you might think. Truly, anyone paying attention will have the identity of the ghost figured out midway through the second act. However, don’t get too complacent. The plot has a few extra reveals that aren’t twists necessarily, but do put some of the previous events in question. No, the more impressive portions of this film are the exploration of social interaction between girls living under the dubious rule of an authoritarian faculty. Life for teens coming to grips with their newly developed emotions is test enough for character. This private school’s teachers oppress in the name of prepping their students for the harsh "real world" adding insult to injury. The worst offender is the principal whose power trip manifests as a disturbing series of sexual harassments. The student’s reaction to such an environment is as you’d expect; extreme cliques are formed and the unlucky ones are ostracized. It’s no wonder someone dying under these circumstances would want to return to exact some revenge.
Whispering Corridors is the best kind of horror film. It’s a horror film that explores more than just how many different ways can someone be killed. It explores human nature and the worst parts of ourselves.
Using Becky’s refusal to allow her gloves to be inspected as an excuse, a thumb war was declared. However, after a thorough search it was evident that Becky was gloveless. Tina’s popularity plummeted.
In the Special Features section of this disk we have trailers for A Tale of Two Sisters, Koma, Oldboy, A Snake of June and the movie reviewed here. We also have a photo gallery with a whopping 8 pictures. Pretty skimpy. Of course, if a lot of people buy this DVD then a double dip would be in order and then you’d get all kinds of extras. So, really, it’s you the readers of this review who are at fault for not having bought 20 copies each for the low level of extras available. Get cracking.
The cover is a picture of actress Gyu-ri Kim perfectly centered in a blue-shifted hallway. I like it. Symmetrical photos are always off-putting and the lines created by where the walls meet the floors and ceiling give a mild illusion of motion. The case also comes with a cardboard sleeve with the same graphics. If you’re going to have an outer sleeve, you probably should use a different graphic. otherwise, why waste the paper? Still and all, much better than your usual art.
"Goooood niiiiight ding-ding-ding-ding-ding."