A chilling breeze blows in horror filmsThere’s no better way to cool off during an already steamy summer than by watching a chilling horror movie. But horror movies are moving away from simple shocking images and instead strengthening the drama.
The dominant trend of the summer’s horror flicks are begrudged Oriental ghosts seeking revenge, a theme first started by several Japanese horror films. The legacy from previous blockbuster horror films such as “The Ring” and “The Eye” can be found in current films. Gore is out, and mind thrillers are in: audiences also seem to crave more psychological thrillers over meaningless bloodbaths.
The Japanese movie “The Ring” in 1998 marked a turning point in modern horror movies. The long-haired Oriental ghost petrified Westerners.
In addition to “The Ring,” “Ju-on” ― a Japanese horror movie about a baby ghost ― was successively remade as “The Grudge” and fared well at the box office.
“The Ring” portrays a killer ghost. Without knowing the coming danger, victims are randomly selected for revenge. The people who watch an unmarked video die within a week, as if random murders symbolize the ills of modern society.
This summer, Korean filmmakers are behind a variety of horrifying movies that are sure to test one’s stomach. In “The Red Shoes,” a 30-year old mother (Kim Hye-soo) and her 6-year old daughter are caught in conflict.
The mother tries to recapture her womanhood, and the daughter wishes to be a better ballerina with the help of a pair of special shoes. While the mother and daughter argue, the image of a girl with bloody shoes appears on the bathroom mirror.
“The Red Shoes,” directed by Kim Yong-kyun, opened last Thursday.
“The Wig,” directed by Won Shin-yeon , opens Aug. 12. A girl named Yoo sun gives her little sister (Chae Min-seo) who is losing hair as a result of chemotherapy, a wig as a present. When the wig is put on, one feels as if someone is watching from the outside. As hairstyles change by the hour, the wig feeds on people’s memories.
In “Ghost Voice,” a gust of wind blows a sheet of music toward character Young-un’s neck and she collapses, bleeding.
From there onward it’s a terrorizing audible experience: footsteps in the hallway, machine sounds from the boiler room, and natural sounds all maximize fear. Directed by Choi Ick-hwan, “Ghost Voice” opens July 15.
The music theme continues with “The Cello,” which opens Aug. 18 and is directed by Lee Woo-chul. It tells the story of a family that dies after they hear the same music at different times and different places. The sad cello score brings more chills.
Other Asian countries are also seeing a revival of the horror theme. Thai director Parkpoom Wongpoom, who directed the 2002 film “The Eye,” will have another offering this summer called “The Shutter.” In his new film that opened Thursday, a ghost is trapped inside a camera shutter, and serial murders ensue.
Meanwhile, Hollywood is remaking several horror classics this summer. Have they run out of ideas? Following the remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Amityville Horror” ― originally made in 1979 ― will see a remake released this summer.
Film critic Kim Bong-suk predicts, “The international horror films will be led by Oriental grudge ghosts for the time being.”
by Park Jeong-ho