May 4, 2014

Be With Me: Death Was in the Cards

Horror movies are so good at introducing moments that elicit an "I'd never do that" reaction when in truth, we actually might. The framing short in the Omnibus Be With Me is a perfect example. In Kim Jho Kwang-su's "Tell Me Your Name," a slightly menacing, slightly cruise-y tarot card reader entices a series of young girls to invoke a life-changing spell with no specific promise as to what the end results will be. We see doom. They see deliverance. But if we went into the experience with strong desires, might not we too stare into the mirror and say our own names out loud? Might it not seem like a silly thing to not do if it contained the possibility of a better future?

Since the wish is never stated outright, I'm not sure what Lan (Han Ye-ri) is hoping for in Jo Eun-kyung's "The Unseen." Better friends to navigate through an abandoned building with? Less slippery cell phones? A good, three-legged stool so she can escape through the window, rejoin her friends, and adopt a box of kittens? A friendship that never dies? She certainly is SOL on all counts.

So-young (Shin Ji-soo) in Hong Dong-myong's "The Attached" has a bit better luck. Her careful-what-you-hope-for desire is probably straight out of the O. Henry canon. I'd do anything to get into Seoul University! Well, now the complicated pregnancy of her best friend (Kim KKobbi) and her primary rival's injured foot on a slippery roof could make her wildest dreams come true. What you gonna do?

The final film -- Yeo Myung-jun's "Ghost Boy" -- doesn't really fit as neatly into a death wish construct because the wish is that of a dead girl's spirit. You're going to have to let go of how she knew what her wish should be before she had her throat slit. You're also going to have to let go of why the teacher doesn't take a student's cell phone immediately after said student claims he's videotaped him beating a female peer. And you're also going to have to let go of why the dead serial killer is so fixated on the dead girl since he's already killed her once. Maybe the implied sequel will explain.

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