THE WHISPERING (속닥속닥) (2018)

Genre: Horror/Thriller
Director: Sam Choi
Cast: So Ju-yeon, Kim Min-kyu, Kim Young, Kim Tae-min, Choi Hee-jin-I, Park Jin
Runtime: 1 hr 31 mins
Rating: PG13 (Horror)
Released By: Clover Films
Official Website: 

Opening Day: 26 July 2018

Synopsis: After the tedious college entrance exam, Eun-ha and her friends are supposed to have fun but are still trying hard to find ways to enter a better college. “This is going to be our last winter as teens and we should so something memorable!” Woo-sung, the teen ‘Youtuber’ suggests to go on a trip. On their way to the beach, they unexpectedly arrive at a spooky rundown house, where the owner killed his wife and daughter. Despite warnings from Shaman to stay away from this haunted house, Woo sung plots to broadcast a staged “Live show” of supernatural. When they are shooting, each of his friends disappear one by one after hearing a whisper. And when Eun-ha tries to find her friends, she hears another whisper of somebody she knows…

Movie Review:

While there is an ongoing debate to whether Japanese or Korean horror flicks are scarier, this reviewer broadly classifies this genre in the Korean film industry into two distinct groups. There are art house favourites like Na Hong Jin’s The Wailing (2016), and there are shlocky fright fests like Lim Dae Woong's House of the Disappeared (2017).

In this serviceable horror movie directed by Sam Choi, we follow a group of students as they take a road trip before they graduate. They find themselves in an abandoned amusement park and as screenplays of such movies have it, the characters dumbly venture deep into a haunted place. You can expect them to be off-ed one by one.

And because every horror movie needs a somewhat emotional back story, this one has the protagonist feeling depressed by an unfortunate incident that resulted in the disappearance of her best friend. Yup, there cheap scares and creepy nightmares that explain this part of the plot.

Back to the amusement park – like the recent Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum, the annoying character decides to make use of social media to live stream the events inside the forbidden area. You can expect shaky camera shots, blood curling screams and mysterious disappearances of the characters.

The 91 minute movie is an easy watch. The story develops in a predictable manner, obligingly giving horror fans what they want. Sudden shocks, bloody makeup and a sinister kid that bafflingly appears out of nowhere? Check. Meaner characters getting their comeuppance before the rest? Check. A finale that is supposed to leave you feeling slightly sad? Check.

The production values are not too shoddy though. The art director and props master should have put in quite a bit of effort to create the several locations in the movie. Red strings, dusty coffins, eerie mannequins and moving eyeballs – you may want to stay away if you can’t stomach these items.

The ensemble cast does a decent job of looking truly terrified when they get stuck in the haunted amusement park. While the actors aren’t A list celebrities, they do their best within the constraints of the clichéd script. So Ju Yeon puts her wide eyed expressions to good use as the protagonist whose personal life has become affected by a past incident. Kim Min Kyu is the pretty boy of the pack, and his good looks should go down well with female viewers. Elsewhere, supporting roles meet the criteria of the stereotyped members in a clique of friends.

There are some genuinely scary moments in the movie. Just like some people are fearful of clowns, this movie may make you be wary of kids with shrill giggles. Also, if you are claustrophobic, you may be wishing that you won’t be caught in a situation where you are trapped in a coffin anytime soon. However, if you have seen enough horror movies, this one may be a cup of tea that will leave you wondering “That’s it?” when the end credits roll.

Movie Rating:

(A serviceable horror movie with occasional scares)

Review by John Li


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