Ghost, The (US - DVD R1)
Nothing to see here, just another pissed off, long-haired ghost haunting Gabe...
Ji-won is a bright young student with (convenient) amnesia. She has no recollection of who she is or what she's done. When her old friends (who she now remembers) mysteriously start dying one by one, she decides to investigate. As she slowly pieces together fragments of her past, strange and terrifying visions begin to haunt her. And there's lots of scary water.
When a movie is so forgettable and so interchangeable with other films in its genre that I have to check the box to remind me of the basic plot, you know something is wrong. I understand that white-faced, black-haired girls have been popular in Asian ghost stories since, well, since the advent of the Asian ghost story, but I don't know how much more I can take.
The Ghost adds absolutely nothing to the genre. The box art has a pull-quote stating that the film is part Dark Water part The Grudge. That pretty much sums it up. This film takes elements from those two films (both of which are slightly interchangeable in their own), and bases a series of set pieces around them. The writers even give the main character unexplained amnesia to ensure their last act twist is easily executed.
No stereotypical Asian ghost story would be complete without the final act twist, and this one's so convoluted I didn't even get it at first. The musical score cued me into the fact that something shocking had happened, but I honestly had no idea what. It's possible that I was just so disinterested in the film that I wasn't paying enough attention, but does it really matter at that point?
Like every Korean horror flick I've ever seen, The Ghost looks great. The art direction and cinematography are top of the line, and the special effects are especially effective. The lack of suspense found in the script is almost made up for by the efforts of the solid cast, but it comes up short. I can really only care for a thinly written character so much, no matter how well presented they are by a given actor.
Just when I think I have them pegged, Tartan surprises me with a really nice video transfer. I'm talking fine details, minimal grain and noise, and soft contrast. The Ghost isn't a very colourful film, it's mostly blue and grey, but those blues and greys are spot on, and the blacks are deep and thick. There is a little problem with edge enhancement in wide shots, but it's a minor issue.
Tartan supplies two more twin DTS and Dolby Digital tracks, and again they're almost identical. Everything sounds great. The score is rich and full, the sound effects are aggressively spooky, and the dialogue has nary a lip-sync issue. I could've done with a little more rear channel scaring, but the bass levels are pretty awesome, so it all evens out.
The cast interviews and behind the scenes featurette last about seven minutes combine. As per the norm from Tartan Asia Extreme, these appear to be elongated ads for the film, made for Korean television. The only thing I ever take away from these EPKs are the fact that South Koreans really know how to make a poster. Tartan Asia Extreme trailers also appear.
I'm sorry to reiterate that I've all but exhausted my good will towards Asian ghost flicks, and I'm finding sitting through two a month rather gruelling. Fans of the genre should know that The Ghost is one of the better-made and acted films in the giant collection, but it has a weak and derivative plot. The A/V is rather exceptional, especially considering some of the problems Tartan's been having recently, but extras are lacking.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 24th April 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: DTS 5.1 Korean, Dolby Digital 5.1 Korean
Extras: Cast Interviews, Making-Of, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Kim Tae-gyun
Cast: Kim Ha-neul, Gi Ju-bong, Ryu Jin-ok, Nam Sangmi, Shin Lee
Length: 94 minutes
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