Horror Stories (2012) Movie Review

I made the mistake of watching this too close to the TV and late at night. I regret turning off the room’s lights for this and I regret watching this with someone who shouts and reacts more louder than me. Damn, I’ve never regretted this much before. In spite of the meager confessions, I can’t help but feel triumphant upon watching one of the scariest Asian horror anthologies of the 21st century. No offense to haters but this film makes Sinister look a cute film for children. No sarcasm intended.

We all know how the main plot of Horror Stories goes: Ji-won, a high-school student is kidnapped by a surprisingly attractive serial killer with a speech impairment. He asks Ji-won to tell him scary stories so that he could go to sleep. This is where she begins to tell four of the scariest stories she knows: The Sun and The Moon, Terror Plane, Kong-jwi & Pat-jwi and Ambulance.

First off, you’re definitely in for a treat with the first segment. It tells of a young brother and sister, home alone and waiting for their mom. Towards the night, a mysterious delivery man knocks on the door and from then on he begins to taunt them. Just when you think the fate of these kids couldn’t get any worse, the sibling duo also comes across the spirit of woman with the creepiest Cheshire cat smile. Ever. She was obviously happy to see them. I don’t know if I should describe the nightmares I got after watching “The Sun and The Moon”. I must admit that I had the urge to stop the movie, switch the TV off and hide under the powerful blankets of my bed. But I couldn’t. Neither my brother could (he’s the person I was referring to who shouts and reacts louder than me). The chase sequence between the delivery man and the kids had me holding onto my hair, keeping my eyes wide open. I’ve never felt this much frightened when it comes to the safety of kids in horror films. Jung Bum-sik did an outstanding job coming up with this original plot and making a teeth-grinding and painfully exciting piece. What a way to kick start this anthology! The motive of the delivery man spawned from the act of avenge from the death of his sister, from being laid off by the company he worked at and from the police brutality during a rally at the said company. Driven to exact his justice on the owner of the company, he embarks on a hate-filled mission to make them feel what he felt. Bum-sik’s segment is both haunting and depressing on an equal level and despite its limited time slot, he manages to add a plot twist and a second disturber of the peace.

“Terror Plane” is Im Dae-woong’s segment to the film and is about a flight attendant, at an altitude of roughly 9800 feet, has to face an escaped serial killer on her own. Think of 4bia’s Dark Flight meets Wes Craven’s Red Eye: action-packed and bloody all over. The villain is the epiphany of a being with no soul and no sense of remorse and it also takes on Jason’s well-known personality feature. You’ll know what I mean. The premise of the film may seem terrifying, I have to say that it didn’t get to me as much I wanted to. Sure, the idea of being trapped in an airplane with a coldblooded and unabashed psycho on an altitude of 30,000 meters is dreadful but I guess, we’ve seen one too many of the same premise over. Hell, they even used snakes the last time. Although, I commend Dae-woong’s effort on redefining an overused plot and bringing his vision of the perfect killer to life; if it wasn’t for Jin Tae-hyun’s disturbing performance of mentally challenged murderer, I probably would have skipped this segment. All in all, I think it’s a shame that it started too slow and ended too quick. But if you’re in the mood for a rush, I suggest you don’t skip this piece.

The story of “Kong-jwi & Pat-jwi” is probably the most messed up variation of Cinderella (but obviously second to the Grimm Brothers’ version. Duh.) Directed by Hong Ji-young, the plot is loosely based on a popular Korean folktale “Kongji and Patzzi”, and follows two step sisters who clearly hates each other. Bak-ji is constantly and excessively jealous of Gong-ji’s engagement with Min, a rich and handsome bachelor and goes to the extent of undergoing cosmetic surgery to look like her. What follows cannot be described properly in words. I feel extremely sorry for both sisters and despise their mother for consenting on their malicious intent on each other. It’s a shame really and I guess Ji-young wanted to emphasize that grotesque reality of human jealousy and animalistic greed. It’s the cruel reality that there are certain people who actually think this way and go on their lives with a persona and an ambition so repulsive. Oh, dilemma! Towards the end, when all hell had already broken loose, I couldn’t comprehend the necessity of the scene wherein (SPOILER FREE! No worries!) this *sister* had to gouge this *certain body part*. It was gross and awesome at the time but I didn’t know if it was needed in the first place. Oh well, good job, Jiyoung-sshi!

“Ambulance” is the last segment of the stories and is directed by Kim Gok & Kim Sun. It’s basically your usual survivors horded up inside a temporary safe place in a zombie epidemic city or quarantined zone. The survivors are basically faced with a serious problem when they picked up a mother whose daughter is unconscious and has an unknown wound on her wrist. Paranoid and the drive to survive fueling them, tensions arised between the survivors over whether they should follow orders or help the mother and child. I love zombie films and I love the rush I get when I see survivors run for their lives from the walking dead. Just like the first piece, Ambulance ended this modern pormanteau film with a bang and a little bit of blood. Wanting to make the audience feel limited, paranoid and stuck in the middle of a fight between their instincts and morals, Kim Gok & Kim-Sun were clearly having way too much fun with this piece. The pace and terror just kept escalating and escalating and it didn’t leave any room for rest or hope. You’ll basically jump up and down in the every sequence of the story, cussing at the characters and high five-ing your face at the mess they were all getting into. And towards the end, you’re left upset because after all the shit they had to go through in that span of time would just end with you doing a table flip and saying “F*ck this shit!”

Man, this is one long review. TL;DR! Haha!


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