Monday, September 17, 2012

Voices (2007)

I have no idea if After Dark Films is ever going to do another "Eight Films to Die For", but the answer is most likely "no." For those who forgot about this-the aforementioned studio and Lionsgate would release eight horror films in select theaters for either a week or a weekend. In this hall, you got films that were great ("Gravedancers", "The Abandoned" and "Mulberry Street") to good ("Autopsy", "Reincarnation" and "Hidden") to mediocre ("Dying Breed", "Wicked Little Things" and "The Reeds") to just plain awful ("The Graves", "Lake Dead" and "Unearthed.") The South Korean film "Voices" belongs in the third category: not an awful film, but not good enough to warrant it being more than okay.

Ga-In Kim (Jin-seo Yun) has been seeing some horrible things, starting with her cousin being thrown off a balcony by her lover on their wedding, and said cousin being stabbed to death in the hospital. Soon, people she knows and loves start trying to kill her, and she starts having horrific visions. As she tries to uncover the secret as to why everyone wants to kill her (No, she's not a bitch. She's actually a pretty nice girl), she discovers that some sort of supernatural presence causing them to turn on her.

There are certainly things to admire about this film. In a lot of ways, the film reminded me of a Giallo film with it's central mystery and at times stylish violence (the murder in the hospital is a highlight.) It also boasts a strong central performance from Yun, who makes for a plucky, likeable protagonist who you can root for. Also impressive is the way the film plays with her sanity. As the body count begins to rise and the people she knows continue to go after her, the film occasionally hints that this might be a case of somebody losing their mind.

Unfortunately, the screenplay doesn't help matters much. There are multiple unexplained plot points-why is this force evil? What is his connection to anyone? Why doesn't anyone seem to be doing anything about this-that makes it a frustrating experience. More frustrating is a plot twist new the end that revolves around a family curse that feels like the writers had run out of ideas. Plus, it constantly jumps between plots and subplots without much ease, and the potential of the plot feels wasted. There's a good movie buried in here, but the bad twists of the plot and a sense of confusion as to what kind of movie it is (is it your typical Asian supernatural tale? A teen centric slasher?) makes it an uneven viewing.

Those who are curious about South Korean genre films are better off watching "Thirst" and "The Host" instead. "Voices" isn't a really bad movie. It's just one that wastes its potential and feels like it should have been more.

Rating: 5/10

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