Tag Archives: Whispering Corridors

Momento Mori: The One About the Diary

What's with the water? Never got that...

If you guys are keeping up with my blogs and are familiar with Korean horror films, you may have found some discrepancies in my post on the prequel to Momento Mori, Whispering Corridors. I had mentioned the interesting voyeuristic quality of the journal in Whispering Corridors. I watched these movies back to back a little while ago and they kind of became one movie to me. That statement on the journals holds true to this movie and not the other one. In truth, these movies have nothing to do with each other. Sorry for the confusion, and on to the review!

So this movie stood out to me a lot more than its predecessor (despite the two being unrelated). Momento Mori is the story of gossip and alienation among an all girls school. In this movie, two girls, Yoo Shi-Eun and Min Hyo-Shin are the focus of ridicule and spite around their school. The pressures placed on these two girls due to their lesbian relationship are almost insurmountable for the two. Through a roller-coaster of  emotions and problems, Shi-Eun and Hyo-Shin face the ridicule of those around them with a brave face. Until everything goes wrong.

The relationship of these two is weird...

And that’s where the horror element comes from. Coming from a more thriller/suspense angle, this movie lacks terror and horror you would expect from a movie like this. A lot more of the tension and jumpiness comes from the voyeuristic element of Soh Min-Ah, the third party participant who finds their journal/diary. With the discovery of the journal lost by the lovers at any moment, Min-Ah must walk on eggshells around school, knowing what is truly going on between the two girls. And then things start becoming strange around the school, and the entire school must suffer for their treatment of two different kinds of lovers.

About as frightening as it gets.

This movie really did leave a lot to be desired in the horror department. It’s plot was well done, but the elements you would expect in the semblance of a horror movie really didn’t come out. With a few surreal elements that didn’t necessarily fit, I found a lot of the movie interesting more for its characters and scenes than its terror and suspense. There is quite a creepy element that exudes from the two lesbian lovers, which I don’t necessarily think comes from the acting as it does from the lack of skill. There’s not much else to say about this less than remarkable film, but I will give it at least an attempt to watch for anyone who is interested in the toned down style of Asian horror films.

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Whispering Corridors

In returning to one of my favorite genres of horror, the Asian horror film, my girlfriend and I watched the first in a string of popular South Korean horror films set in the Asian all girls high school setting. In this 1998 film, right after the restraints raised after the censorship that held down filmmaking in Korea, this movie, at its best point, raised issues about keeping down a populace of people. The physical and emotional abuse felt at this school of depressed teens created an environment for horror. Not that this film is based on fact, but this dated film from a country barely scraping the surface of horror is a good first attempt.

Let’s summarize. This movie focuses around the lives of three senior students, Young Jae-Yi, Lim Ji-Oh, and Kim Jung-Sook, three differing students who encounter a hanging suicide outside of their school on the first day of classes.

I quite enjoy this, although it's from the fifth one...

Discovering this recently deceased teacher brings up issues of what brought her to this end and who may be responsible. In the same vein of a former student’s death at the school, Jin-Ju, these girls must discover exactly what happened through a journal of Ju-Jin and her secret female lover in a school of taboos. The end may leave you shocked, but who knows? I didn’t really understand what was happening until it was explained to me.

The topic of this movie was quite interesting, but, for a first attempt it was a mediocre delivery on just exactly what was being examined in South Korean film. I’m proud to say for the South Korean population that, since then, there have been quite a few good Korean films that I am a huge fan of. (The Host, The Good Bad and Weird, and A Tale of Two Sisters – check out the review!) To discount this one as just a fluke would be folly, as its just a first attempt in what has turned into a long line of success. The franchise as a whole, I’m not sure about, but I will give this movie the review it deserves.

This is about as scary as it gets.

It’s been a while since I watched this, but there were a lot of genuinely good lines that stood out to me in this film. I would say this derived from a good script, and that’s probably where the creativity started. The journal and its function in the story created a voyeuristic look into the lives of the other students in the school that I found darkly interesting. The issue of lesbian love and experimenting in an all girls school creates a comment on Korean society and the repressed feelings of the masses. In what I could only imagine as a delving into the mind of a deranged sociopath, this movie follows two lines of plot. That of the past and present. When the two collide through the survival of a student lover, the movie takes on the horrific twist that leaves a jarring, supernatural feel that at the same time as it disorients, it poetically ends the film.

I can’t really comment on the acting as usual with a film with subtitles, but I suspect the acting couldn’t be half bad. The youth of the movie could have struggled, but coming from a society with strict schooling, it could be a releasing of some pent up energy. The suspense lags from time to time, but the dark and sinister nature of the film really carries it along. The ending, as I said, is quite strange. If you don’t see it at first, you may need to watch the last 15 minutes again. Otherwise, as it did with me, it may pass over your head. So enjoy, if you can, and give this first in a long string of suspense/horror films from the good ole South Korea a chance. I’d give it a solid 6.2 out of 10 for a first attempt.

The evil minds of Korea at work.