November 17, 2007

The Ghost: Ring-a-ding-ding

What's the most influential horror movie ever? Psycho? Halloween? Frankenstein? In recent history, at least in Asia, the answer would definitely be The Ring. And for The Ghost, writer-director Kim Tae-kyeong trots out his own facsimile of that landmark movie's creepy dead girl. Why is the image of a silent young woman with straight, dirty black hair hanging in front of her face so unsettling? Even now, after having seen various incarnations of this demon-spawn in a half-dozen flicks, she's still got a certain undeniable power. Maybe it's the idea of a battered woman or an abused child who refuses to be beaten coming back from the dead to right wrongs. (The catch is she's got so much justifiable anger that she's a little out of control.) Woman as victim becomes woman as vengeance. Having the spirit inhabit different bodies, as Kim does here, just makes her transformation that much more universal. Like any decent fright flick, The Ghost also throws out a number of existential questions like if our memories were erased would we become someone else or who is responsible for an accidental death? I think I like amnesiacs! They're so open.

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