Horrorfest '08: Voices (US - DVD R1)
Gabe's Horrorfest gets stylish and violent, but still isn't much good...
Ka-in (Yun Jin-seo) is a relatively carefree young woman until the day she witnesses her aunt’s fiancé thrown from a balcony on their wedding day. Later she gets to see her other aunt stab the new widow to death in her hospital bed, and Ka-in realizes something more serious might be going on. Soon she finds herself next in line for a murderous curse, and everyone around her seems possessed and poised to kill her. To stop the curse Ka-in must look into her family’s past in hopes of uncovering some dark secret.
Modern Korean horror films have a lot in common with modern Japanese horror, but in my experience there are still some elements that remain specific to the area. Voices (aka Someone Behind You, apparently based on a comic book) fulfils most of these somewhat vague requirements. The violence is brutal in a less stylized or ‘cartoony’ fashion than that found in most Japanese horror. The film’s overall look is cleaner, more stylized, and more baroque than the often grittier post- Ringu Japanese output. Also, the plot is unnecessarily convoluted, taking audience assumptions for granted, and incorporating unneeded flashbacks at inopportune times.
Voices fits somewhere between the school girl dramatics of Whispering Corridors and Memento Mori, and the more Americanized neo-slashers like Bloody Reunion. Like so many horror films we are forced to go through a whole lot of belief suspension (in this case some of it is actually just cultural difference), but mostly the mystery is sustained, and the characters survive thanks to solid performances—to a point. After a while the possession angle becomes a teeny bit comedic, as does Ka-in’s ability to roll with the punches. As often seems to be the case the story doesn’t quite sustain a feature length movie, and unfortunately becomes a bit overlong at the half way point.
You can probably just read this following statement and apply it to all the films in the Horrorfest III collection. In keeping with Lionsgate’s lower end releases Voices isn’t in bad shape, but does feature its share of video ailments. The worst here are some odd scans lines that appear mostly during dolly shots, and an occasional distortion in the middle of the frame. The overall detail levels are decent, and don’t lead to too much edge enhancement. Flashbacks are filmed with stronger lighting and an overall yellowed tint compared to the rest of the film, which is more cooled, and high contrast. The colours are relatively solid, and even the bright reds are surprisingly light on noise.
Voices features a relatively lively Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix, with clean and clear centre dialogue track, and some spooky rear channel effects. There’s an inadvertently funny screen left battle and a really convincing rear channel door creak that actually made me look behind me. The film’s score is effective enough, if not a little melodramatic, but sounds a little synthetic on the track. Either it wasn’t produced with real strings, or something went wrong in the mixing process.
This disc features only the Miss Horrorfest Webisodes and trailers.
In the end Voices features some memorable moments, some strong performances, and some genuine suspense, but the various elements of the story don’t add up or make any sense. Overall this is a disappointing showing, but perhaps worth seeing for stylistic reasons. The disc features nothing in the way of extras, but does have one of the better transfers of the collection.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 31st March 2009
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Korean
Extras: Miss Horrorfest Webisodes, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Oh Ki-hwan
Cast: Yun Jin-seo, Park Gi-woong, Lee Ki-woo
Length: 85 minutes
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