[ed. note: I swear on my mother I have posted this review before. But I cannot for the life of me find it anywhere online. So apologies if you’re seeing it again!]
Hwa-i-teu: Jeo-woo-eui Mel-lo-di (White: The Melody of the Curse) (The Kim Brothers, 2011)
The behind-the-scenes business of teen idol bands—in America, think Boyz II Men or ‘NSync—is, from all reports, a brutal thing indeed, rife with infighting and cutthroat competition. It seems to me that a perfectly good slasher film could be made simply by taking this conceit to its logical conclusion; who in the scene wouldn’t kill to be the lead singer of the next big boy band? And yet, while I admit my sample size for this kind of thing is quite small, every time I see a movie that addresses this idea, it ends up being a supernatural horror film. (I admit, this is only my second exposure to the genre; the other was the dreadful Ring of Darkness from 2004.) Since it’s an Asian horror film, and a supernatural one at that, you know what you’re getting—and with few exceptions, White delivers that. Which is not necessarily a good thing; the film is all too predictable all too often. But it is well-done enough to warrant a look.
Plot: Pink Dolls, a teen-girl-group aiming for mega-pop-stardom, have been giving it their all without actually getting anywhere. Things change when their manager (Speed Scandal‘s Gi-bang Kim), a former girl-group member herself, strikes a deal with her former backer to move the band into a studio he owns that was abandoned fifteen years ago after it was destroyed in a fire. When they move in, while getting settled, band member Eun-joo (Ice Bar‘s Eun-jeong Ham) uncovers a stash of old rehearsal tapes form the band who used the studio before the fire. One of them, “White”, seems right up the band’s alley. Sure enough, they record it, and suddenly their stock is on the rise—almost supernaturally so. But remember what happened to the last band to record it?
The Kim Brothers seem to have rectified many of the problems that plagued their amusing, though problematic, 2005 horror comedy Geo-Lobotomy; this is a much slicker film, better-directed and with a solid base of talent in front of the camera (Eun-joo’s best friend, Soon-ye, is played by Thirst‘s Woo-seul-hye Hwang, while the rest of the Pink Dolls are comprised of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance‘s Ah-ra Choi, It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl‘s Jin Se-yeon, and pop star Maydoni Kim). And I will give them big, big props for the ultimate resolution to the mystery, which is something very, very rarely seen (though obviously I can’t explain why that is; I will tell you, however, I have only ever seen it handled that way in one other film). On the other hand, however, you know every twist and turn that’s coming long before it actually does as long as you’ve seen any random half-dozen Asian horror movies that have been released since Ring. In the end, what you’ve got is an enjoyable, if forgettable, bog-standard Asian horror film; not bad at all, but nothing really distinguishes it from the pack enough to make me tell you to go out of your way to watch it. ***
|1 Rapoon, Breathing Gold|