December 11, 2011

White: The Melody of the Curse: Girl Group Gone Dead

When Pure, the sassy, pre-fab all-girl group, kicked off White: The Melody of the Curse, I became a ridiculously excitable mess, an overeager believer who knew he'd stumbled upon one of the great films of 2011, a contemporary masterpiece of the horror genre, a fright flick combining infectious pop tunes with cleverly executed deaths, and one that -- just maybe -- traipsed out some dance moves that truly killed it, as they say. Then The Pink Dolls took the stage and I underwent a severe reality check. Dressed in frilly Bo-Peep outfits and looking as lost as that famed maiden's sheep, this followup act crashed where the other burned, and fizzled where the other dazzled. As the paid audience on-screen obediently checked their Androids and iPhones and acted bored, I did the same in real time while wondering what the hell was going on. Were the writer-director-brothers Kim (Gok and Sun) really going to put this less-compelling foursome in the spotlight? Yes, my friend, they really were! My immediate assessment would have to be retracted.

Now I get how The Pink Doll's being so awful is part of a dramatic structure that needs to show these ladies at rock bottom in order to make their rise to the top of the charts that much more thrilling but what I don't get is why they'd put the camera on a cruddy quartet when they've got another band that's bubblegum pleasure. Why can't the girls of Pure discover a cursed DVD that will catapult them to pop stardom then slam them each in their graves? And, for that matter, why can't the curse originate with the ghost of an angry composer-lyricist instead of an embittered dead singer so we won't have to hear the same hit tune time after time, backwards and forwards, and with different women taking the lead? Regardless, that's not the movie the brothers Kim have written.

As to the movie they have made, here's what works: a stylishly dyke-y manager (Byeon Jeong-su) who feels like she might be part of the initial tragedy that generated the curse; the cranky little breakdancer Sin-ji (Maydoni) whose glares suggest she might be behind all the near-fatal accidents; the brief cameo of Lee Kyu-han as an unscrupulous backer who makes the casting couch look pretty inviting; the bloody end of lead singer Eun-joo (Ham Eun-jeong) who's trampled to death by her panicked fans. The list of what doesn't work is longer so let's just say that having two bandmembers -- the pretty Je-ni (Jin Se-Yeon) and the talented Ah-rang (Choi Ah-ra) -- be friends-turned-rivals was a good idea, as was the side story involving Soon-yi (Hwang Woo-seul-hye), Eun-joo's sister who once had pop stardom dreams of her own. I'd welcome a better sequel.

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