October in blogland at last! You already know this month’s theme. We’re into hauntings, unexplained disturbances, and creepiness in general, aka Paranormal Blogtivity (admittedly a title that needs work).
Disappearances and creepy goings-on plague a Korean girls’ school conveniently in the middle of nowhere.
The Uncondensed Version:
Bit of background: it’s Japanese-occupied Korea, just before the outbreak of WWII. As it goes with empires, everyone wants to go to Japan since it can provide a better education and more opportunities for young people. This is especially true for the girls in this film, who are competing for one of two coveted spots to go to Tokyo for school.
Shizuko is a transfer student to a school that is also a sanitorium(?) in the Korean countryside that seems to specialize in embroidery and vaulting. Seriously, they are in a traditional classroom once in this entire movie. Though Shizuko is very ill, she starts to get better with the help of the headmistress and some very experimental treatments. She also makes a friend, Yeon-deok, and develops romantic feelings for her.
Meanwhile, all kinds of creepy shit keeps happening. There are events that seem to be tied to a ghost or some other supernatural presence—girls choking, seemingly victims of possession, and becoming very violent. Petty high school things also happen as one girl in particular seems to have it in for Shizuko and does crazy shit like leave a dying bird in her locker and spreading rumors that she has TB. In part, they’re uncomfortable because a girl named Shizuko disappeared before this new girl with the same name arrived. Spooky, eh? Sort of?
As Shizuko recovers, she becomes inhumanely strong, which is bad news for the girls bullying her. You’d better believe she’ll get her Carrie moment. What kind of medical experimentation is really going on with these girls? And what’s up with the nearby Japanese army base? Super sketchy shit, guys. Super. Sketchy.
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
Really brief plot summary reflects my inability to follow this very easily. The chronology is confusing as fuck, and I never quite knew what the intent of this film is. It begins as a ghost story, but shifts rather abruptly to a story about medical experimentation. Make up your goddamn mind—is this a ghost story? Forbidden schoolgirl romance? Conspiracy? Sociopolitical commentary? Please pick one or two themes and develop them further.
This had a lot of promise at the beginning, and there were elements that were a bit like Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish-language films. There’s even a really beautiful but despicable character who you are just waiting to see die violently.
The problem is that there’s no emotional resonance, which is a pretty terrible crime for a film that deals thematically with coming of age, first love, abuse, and the devastation of war. I can’t say any of the characters felt especially three-dimensional or interesting.
I’m not crazy about revenge films, but this one may have been better off with that focus as the last 10 mins were so fucking badass.
Not a terrible film, but somewhat aimless and confusing.
Did Christa think this one made a miraculous discovery or would she rather it simply disappeared? Find out by reading her review here!