Korean Horror - Essential Collection From Palisades Tartan

Palisades Tartan brings together three Korean chillers as a three-disc collection that includes Kim Sung-ho's Into The Mirror, Park Ki-hyung's Acacia and Won Shin-yeon's The Wig.

Recently given the Hollywood remake treatment as ‘Mirrors', directed by Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance; The Hills Have Eyes) and starring Keifer Sutherland, Kim Sung-ho's Into The Mirror is a creepy and highly stylized horror tale involving Wu Young-min, a cop who has quit the police force after inadvertently killing his partner. Now working at a department store, Wu encounters his ex-rival, who is in charge of investigating a series of murders at the store, and finds himself being pulled into the sinister investigation.

Park Ki-hyung's Acacia tells of an obstetrician and his wife who, unable to have a child of their own, decide to adopt a 10-year-old boy, Jin-seung. When the wife later falls pregnant and has a baby, Jin-seung becomes so incensed by jealousy he runs away. During his absence a dead tree in the garden, where he used to play, mysteriously comes to life and fills the house with a heavy scent. Then a variety of strange events begin to occur, all of them seemingly related to the mysterious tree.

Creepy chills meet visceral horror in Won Shin-yeon's beautifully shot The Wig, the tale of Ji-hyeon, a young woman who buys her terminally ill sister a new wig to hide the hair loss resulting from her treatment. After her sister starts making an alarming comeback in mental health to the point of being hostilely aggressive and overbearingly sexual, Ji-hyeon soon discovers the disturbing truth about the history of the wig.


Cello Review

A music professor and former cellist lives an ordered life with her husband, 2 daughters, and her sister until this status begins to unravel in Korean horror/chiller Cello. Hong Mi-ju (Seong Hyeon-ah) has a nice house, loving family, and enviable career, but cracks start to appear when she's threatened by a former pupil over a failed exam. Sinister texts, a dead bird and a near-miss in a car park are all worrying signs for Mi-ju, but these tangible proceedings are only the beginning of the increasingly bizarre events which befall her. Could the pupil be behind the goings on? Or Maybe the creepy housekeeper? Find out in this surprisingly decent film from writer/director Lee Woo-chul. 

Korea is increasingly becoming a nation of horror producers on a par with Japan for the ever-popular Asian Horror market. Films like A Tale of Two Sisters and names like Park Chan-wook have upped the Korean bid to be forthright in the market dominated by Japanese Ringu-type scares. Recent Japanese horrors like Ju-On: The Grudge 2 have milked the now tiresomely familiar frights dry, with the narrative taking a backseat as a fluff filler for the effects. Cello, though, thankfully does the opposite as an engaging, story-driven horror where minimal scare effects function to enhance the story, rather than the other way around. 

Woo-chul's film works for the most part by an ascending feeling of off-key, rather than blatant shock tactics. Paranoia and suspicion fuel the general feeling of unrest, while the few but well-placed frights elevate the horror elements. As less of an effects-laden film, the odd well-framed shot inputs a creepy atmosphere, with the house itself taking on an especially noticeable characteristic of the very subtly surreal. Weirdness personified by the housekeeper and Mi-ju's silent, autistic child keep you guessing, as does her former pupil in a superb turn of effectively creepy bimbo-ness. What begins as a complex weave of plot devices culminates in a traditional ghost-story ending, with the odd inclusion of the Asian-type scares we've become accustomed to. There is a slightly arthouse feel to the film at times, which aids the off-key atmosphere and the initial complexities of the plot make you think rather than just absorb the chills. The subtly creepy atmosphere only heightens the effect of the shocks, none more so than the genuinely brutal realism of Mi-ju's unintentionally horrific act towards the end. You get the feeling that this film wasn't intended to be a cinematic great, but rather an above average and quietly individual chiller, and as such it succeeds.

If long black hair as a scare tactic has worn a little thin with you, then this engaging, story-driven horror could be what you need to perk the Asian horror genre up 7/10

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The trailer for Panik House Entertainment's spring release of the horror The Univited has been posted at youtube.com.

The film is described as a modern classic and has been collecting awards at film festivals worldwide for the past two years.

Make no mistake: this is a whole new type of horror film -one of utter emotional isolation and character development unseen in horror since The Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. The harrowing finale had audience members fainting in the aisles in its homeland (Korea).

View The Uninvited  trailer at youtube.com


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