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the director -- named Jang Hyun-seong(23)

Time:2018-03-08 00:04Shoes websites Click:

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The movie could have gone on to explore either the emotionally complex relationship between the sisters in a horror context, losing its fanciful Final Twist in the process, as in Bergman's Cries and Whispers (which I consider to be a horror film of the first order), or, conversely, the psychological horror of a young person facing bodily deterioration and the ambiguities of a life-sustaining addiction, a la Cronenberg's The Fly. Unfortunately, like almost all Korean horror films I have seen in recent years, The Wig noisily deconstructs itself in the final reel, as it gets caught up in a rush toward stitching together loose plot threads. At least The Final Twist is original, although I suspect many viewers will simply find it campy beyond imagination (it is about as predictable as, say, if Jang-geum's true identity in Daejanggeum were revealed as a time-traveling feminist traditional medicine specialist from 21st century Korea). Likewise, the slap-in-the-viewer's-face denouement, which obviously is meant to make a serious point about the difficulties of love and understanding even in a close relationship, comes across as either thoroughly ridiculous or merely callous. I am sure these ideas were fine in the screenplay (credited to Do Hyeon-jeong), but as filmed, they have no more impact than film-school exercises in Big-Deal Symbolism.

I suppose I should give a few more points to The Wig, compared to its 2005 summer season competitors, for refusing to indulge in digital-effects hocus-focus and for keeping the focus on the two sisters and their emotional relationship, at least until the crude and wacky mishandlings of the genre elements overwhelm it. Alas, the Horror-film-in-name-only Virus continues to infect the feature debuts of talented Korean filmmakers. Somebody ought to come up with a vaccine, pronto.      ()


Hong Mi-ju (Seong Hyeon-a, Woman is the Future of Man) is a college lecturer and cellist. As the film opens, she is rattled by the news of a recital by the sister of her old friend, Tae-in (Pak Da-an). It appears that she has a bitter memory involving Tae-in's accidental death many years ago. When her daughter Yun-jin acquires a cello and shows an unhealthy interest in it, however, she soon learns that her family is put under threat by a supernatural force.


Thematically, Cello is yet another critique of a superficially happy and prosperous bourgeois family disguised as a horror film, following in the footsteps of Phone and Acacia. As in Red Shoes, the increasingly strained relationship between mother (Mi-ju) and daughter (Yun-jin) serves as the film's emotional center of gravity. The cello, a musical instrument whose shape resembles a human torso, is here used by debut director Lee Woo-chul as a mirror-like medium upon which moral hypocrisies of a middle-class Korean family are reflected. This directorial intent is reasonably clearly communicated, and I am sympathetic to his effort to avoid making yet another listless contribution to the "cursed object" sub-genre of post-Ring Asian horror (My colleagues know that I am no big fan of Hideo Nakata's Ring and its numerous cinematic spawn, especially in light of how they have mangled the John Wyndham-meets-H. P. Lovecraft sensibility of Suzuki Koji's novels). Seong Hyeon-a and other actors do a fine, if not particularly memorable, job of keeping the dramatic intensity at the correct level of pitch.

Unfortunately, Cello is almost stupifyingly dull. The suspense is non-existent, the pacing is slack, the CGI effects are murky, and the shocks are orchestrated with all the vigor of a player piano conking out a rendition of My Darling Clementine. As ridiculous and plagiarism-ridden as Bunshinsaba was, or as illogical and ham-fisted as Doll Master was, these movies at least held my attention to the end. Cello, I am sorry to say, is the first Korean horror film I have seen in many years that actually threatened to put me to sleep. And oh, about the final twist... not only is it utterly, miserably predictable, it is also so depressingly familiar that casually mentioning the title of another Korean film released last year with a similar twist would in itself constitute a complete spoiler. Suffice to say that if you don't have a good inkling of where this is all going in the first five minutes, you either need to have an eye doctor examine your retinas (they are not conveying correct information to your brain, massa), or are a true innocent as far as horror film cliches go... in which case I almost envy you.

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