ABOVE AVERAGE KOREAN GHOST STORY
Tim Janson | Michigan | 09/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Arang is a Korean horror film on the Tartan Asia Extreme label which mixes elements of The Grudge, The Ring, along with a good ol' fashioned murder mystery into one tight package. Throw in a female violent crimes detective with a troubled past, and you get a very ambitious film that tries to do quite a bit and is generally successful in doing so.
The detective in question is So-Young Min, who is just coming off a suspension for beating up a man accused of sexual assault...We'll learn later about the dark secret that she hides and the reason for her hatred of sexual predators. She is saddled with a new partner, a rookie to the violent crimes unit who transferred over from forensics. He's over eager but is willing to learn from the experienced So-young Min. The pair are soon investigating a series of brutal murders of a group of friends who were involved in a murder nine years earlier. A young man was killed and shortly after, his girlfriend Kim Min Jeong goes missing. The men involved begin seeing apparitions of a hideous, pale female with blood dripping from her eyes like tears.
They each receive e-mails that plays a video showing them the site of the Salt storehouse where the murder took place nine years earlier. Soon the detectives are frantically scrambling to unlock the secrets of the past and to save the surviving partners. But Arang is a film loaded with sudden twists and secrets and what seems to be a pedestrian ghost story takes a turn for the clever and gives viewers much more.
The apparitions are the typical we've seen in many recent Asian horror films...they are seen as cars pass and elevators descend, or in the lens of a camera but quickly disappear. Still, the director Sang-hoon Ahn does a marvelous job building up the suspense throughout the film. Even when you know what's about to happen you still end up jumping in your seat when the ghost makes her appearance.
What sets Arang apart from some of the films I've mentioned is the performances of the actors? This film isn't driven by just scares and special effects but also by great performances, particularly by Yun-ah Song as Detective So-Young Min. She is intelligent, strong, beautiful, intuitive, yet also caring and vulnerable. Her depth of character was one that is rare amongst female roles in horror films. Arang is a well done chiller that works as both a strong horror and murder mystery that's loaded with surprises and fine acting.
The DVD is well stacked with features including commentary by director and cast, a making-of documentary, deleted scenes, interviews with the cast, interview with the musical director, and theatrical trailer. The film is in anamorphic widescreen and is in Korean with English and Spanish subtitles.
REVIEWED BY TIM JANSON"
A hybrid detective-horror tale that works for the most part
z hayes | TX | 10/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"When I read the blurb for the movie "Arang", I admit my interest was piqued as this didn't seem a run-of-the-mill horror story. I'm glad I watched it as though the entity in the movie is nothing new [the woman with long dark hair, bloody eyes, darting around and popping up in dark corners], the storyline is actually quite refreshing.
The story centers around female detective So Young [Song Yoon Ah] who seems to be a sort of tortured soul, always experiencing nightmares and apparently haunted by a tragedy in her past. She is teamed up with a rookie Hyun Gi [Lee Dong Wook] on a murder case where the victim is found burned to death though the cause of death is found to be asphyxiation. Later a series of similar murders has the detectives struggling to put the clues together in search of a serial killer. The clues point to a connection with a murder case that occurred many years ago.
What ultimately lifts this movie for me is not really the supernatural aspect [which is quite typical in comparison to other Asian horror flicks], but the well-crafted storyline with its twists and turns. You don't really see the connections until the ending and that really made me appreciate the movie even more. Though there are a few plotholes, all in all the story did seem to flow seamlessly and the lead actors do a pretty credible job of keeping the suspense alive throughout the film.
If you have been watching way too many Asian horror flicks, then you will not find anything new or exciting with thr supernatural part of this movie, but if you like to see something new with the detective story within a horror story, then this is worth checking out."
More conventional Asian Horror fare
Dancing Ganesha | Bangalore, India | 07/13/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Arang" is more of a conventional mystery, still depending on the supernatural, but is much more plot-driven. I think fans of "CSI" type shows and films might enjoy this one. I can't say it's my favourite, I actually enjoy films that depend more on surreality and the suspension of reality when it comes to the supernatural, especially in horror and Asian horror."