Director: Won Shin-yeon
Starring: Chae Min Seo, Yoo Sun, Moon Soo
RunTime: 1 hr 46 mins
Released By: Shaw & Festive Films
Opeing Day: 13 October 2005
The sisters and a terrible present
In the dark hospital room lies a present for Soohyun, a dying
cancer patient. It is a beautiful wig, which Jihyun has prepared
for her. Admiring the beauty of the wig, Soohyun slowly puts
it on. In no time, the reflection of Soohyun in the mirror
transforms into an attractive woman full of vitality, and
a mysterious power falls on her.
by the wig
Jihyun feels uneasy with Soohyun’s mysteriously rapid
recovery from the day she puts on the wig. Soohyun now seems
to have become a completely different person and her attitude
toward Jihyun’s ex-boyfriend Kiseok is not quite the
same as in the past. In addition, Kyungjoo, a friend of Soohyun
who has borrowed her wig, is savagely murdered, and now Soohyun
murmurs unintelligible words. Something is happening to Soohyun
and Jihyun is afraid of her lovely sister.
the curse of the wig falls on the sisters….
Many horror films employ the use of an element that hinge
on the fears of the audience. In Hideo Nakata’s “Dark
Water” (2002) and “Ringu” (1998), it is
the water element and the fear of mysterious beings that crept
out from the tube respectively. In Yong Ki-Jeong’s “The
Doll Master” (2004), the presence of the life-like dolls
that bears a close resemblance to humans will chill the audience
to the bone when it blinks, grin and move. Similarly, in Won
Sin-Yeon’s “The Wig” (2005), the director
employs the use of the wig to create the scare. This is especially
spine-tingling when one imagines a wig that is superimposed
in a darkroom on a dress, moves up a stairway with a life
of its own and possess its owner when it’s worn.
aside, Korean horror films seems to have undergone a few changes
in recent years.
previously the directors chose to use scare tactics to frighten
the audience by horrific imagery and high-pitch screams that
portrays reality, most Korean directors now use the same techniques
in a different way: gruesome images that manifests itself
in dreams and hallucinations rather than reality. In so doing,
the directors are now inadvertently separating reality from
the shocking illusionary images portrayed onscreen. If the
audiences are sharp enough to see the demarcation between
reality and hallucinations, they will be able to separate
the two entities. “The Wig” has evidence of such
a practice. The film thus becomes more petrifying. One reason
may be attributed to the fact that sometimes, our imagination
may be more disturbing than any other reality that we are
horror films have also increased their emphasis on sentimentality.
It begins with Kim Ji-Woon’s “A tale of Two Sisters”
(2004), continues with Kim Dong Bin’s “Ghost Train”
(2005) and “The Wig” falls next in line in this
series of sentimental horror, running parallel to the filming
techniques of Walter Salles’s “Dark Water”
(2005). While the segregation of hallucinations from reality
raises the fear factor bar, the focus on sentimentality is
a mistake. It slows down the plot and kills the suspense.
Unlike films such as “Shutter” (2004) (where the
audience are given a visual treat to unnerving images at strategically-timed
intervals, “The Wig” fails to sustain the tension
and the film winds up being a test of the audience’s
patience as it progresses.
cast is powerful though. Especially noteworthy is Chae Min-Seo,
who plays the cancer-stricken patient who develops an obsession
with a wig given by her sister (Yoo Seon). Be it being the
depressed victim of a terminal disease or taking the role
of the twisted alter ego of her original personality, Min-Seo
plays her role to near perfection. Yoo Seon also gives a strong
supporting performance as Min-Seo’s elder sister with
her nubile allure and tortured sense of being.
film scores in terms of its theme of sisterly love, akin to
“A Tale of Two Sisters”. It might be better received
if this film were to be shown as a social drama. As a horror
film, it didn’t quite make the mark. The scary moments
are inserted to scare the audience and not to make a point.
It also doesn’t have memorable moments such as the figure-crawling-out-from-TV
scene in “Ringu” for audience to remember by.
This weakens the film to a certain degree.
for those movie-goers who loves sentimentality, the strong
cast do have the clout to hold the film together. And for
those who love heart-wrenching moments, the finale should
leave you leaving the theatre teary-eyed.
Tale of Two Sisters’ with a wig thrown in for good measure)
by Patrick Tay