Director: Hae-young Lee
Stars: Won-Hee Go, Ji-won Uhm, So-dam Park
This was an interesting little Korean film. It tried to be many things, succeeded with some and perhaps failed with others. For a long time the film is set firmly in mystery territory, tries to slip into a thriller and adds a few horror elements in for good measure. The mystery works well but the horror elements just don’t really seem to fit in my opinion. They almost seemed shoe-horned in for the sake of it.
We start with Shizuko (Won-Hee Go in her first role) on her way to a boarding school. Shizuko appears to be a quiet and unassuming young girl. We quickly learn that she has an illness and has been enrolled into the school due to her parents divorcing and her mother dying. The majority of the girls already there do not appear to be quick to welcome their new roommate with the exception of Yeon-Duk (So-dam Park, who herself has only been in a handful of roles). Yeon-duk takes Shizuko under her wing. This is where the plot slowly starts to unravel, with the discovery that there was previously another girl called Shizuko staying at the school who disappeared mysteriously.
It is around this time that the headmistress (the brilliant Ji-won Uhm who is suitably seductively creepy and deranged) starts to prescribe treatment for Shizuko in order to get her healthy. The girls are all very athletic, with the promise of two of them leaving for Tokyo if selected on a national day with other schools. As Shizuko’s health slowly starts to improve, more weirdness is uncovered. And I will keep the rest spoiler free.
While some things should be spotted from a mile away, this is still a reasonable film and very watchable. Some Japanese elements do creep in at times (especially at the end), and while it is a Korean film, I’m pretty sure it was a joint venture in some capacity. There are some wonderful sets and locations, the photography at times is fantastic and fits the film, and given that Ji-won Uhm (a pure joy to watch) is the only seasoned performer here, the acting is well above average from the majority of the actresses involved. Worth a watch if you catch it.
The Sage’s Rating: 6/10