Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Arang is a Korean ghost story, so as expected you could probably watch it with an ‘Asian Horror Clichés Checklist’ and make a tick when you see; school girls getting haunted, check. Long haired little girl with wide creepy eyes, check. Some sort of bloody fluid oozing towards its victim, check. Long black hair growing out off walls or ceiling, check. and of course the ghost reflecting in pretty much every mirror in the film. Check. That said, Asian horror films will almost always share these qualities, and that’s not exactly a bad thing. Like any other genre of film they will always include their staple clichés that even though at this point most of the casual viewers will usually cry tired of them, if they didn’t have them they wouldn’t be the genre film that their fans want them to be. So is Arang a bad film? Not really, it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table that we haven’t seen before in Asian Ghost stories. In fact it’s one of the better ones I have seen in quite a while.
The film opens with two young students walking at night as we hear the tale of a haunted salt House, and as they approach said Salt House one of them spots a young girl standing alone, as she approaches her it is revealed that she is, a ghost! After some uneventful and disappointing opening scenes the story eventually begins to take shape as a group of twenty something young men, who happen to be friends start turning up dead. Killed by what appears to be toxic chemical killing them from the inside. Assigned to the case, and returning from a recent suspension is a young female detective (Song Yoon-ah), who finds herself paired up with a recently transferred young crime scene photographer (Lee Dong-wook). So now they must work together in their own unique ways, while fighting their own personal demons and figure out what is happening to these victims, and what happened to make these friends targets.
The back story is by far the best part of Arang, in fact the first hour or so tends to shuffle along at a pretty slow pace, with fairly common clue solving tactics and some seriously underwhelming scares that if you’ve watched at least one supernatural horror film in your life you will see coming much before they happen. But the conclusion and the final reveal is nothing short of brilliant! The final twist is fantastic, though it’s possible some might guess before hand, but I definitely didn’t!
A Film by: Ahn Sang-hoon