The genre of horror has been one of the popular genres that have started developing in the movie business. This has been harnessed by the free access of television and cinemas across the world. Various causes can be attributed to this sudden change of events; however, no one can explain why most of the individuals in the society tend to appreciate it despite being unrealistic and fictitious (Corrigan 6).
Though most of its contents are fiction, it is a mistake to assume that horror movies are primitive and plain. Naturally, horror movies are known to exemplify traditional and uncouth characteristics, and the directors of the films are perceived to non-conversant with the changes in the society. In my opinion, I would argue that all the sectors of the art cinema have majority of mediocre crews and minority being good crews, and horror genre is no exception.
Among the very few intriguing and genius horror movies, the focus will be on The Eye (Gin gwai; dir. Pang Brothers, 2002, Hong Kong), Tell Me something (dir. Chang Yoon-Hyun, 1999, South Korea), and A Tale of Two Sisters (Janghwa, Hongryeon; dir. Kim Ji-woon, 2003, South Korea). The three films denote a classic horror genre, and the directors have undertaken a massive work when it comes to editing, cinematography, and sound design of the films.
A Tale of Two Sisters is a true ploy of horror movie, which is denoted by the use of framing. Ideally, inventive framing has been used to enhance attentiveness of the audience, drawing goose bumps, and eliciting stifled gasps. The movie commences with a short scene describing psychiatric ward.
The doctor is preparing to interview his patient, who in turn happens to be an ugly and scary young woman, and her faced has been covered by long hair. The doctor wants to know what happened to her, but the scene fades and directs the audience to a view inside a car that is travelling to the countryside.
Kim’s disorienting positions and broad-view, reveals pans that aims at generating fright in the movie. It parades out the Korean horror themes that are familiar to the viewers. This includes haunted children, children’s bonds that are strong enough to challenge death, oppression on women, neurotic stepmothers, excessive femininity, and ineffectual fathers (Corrigan 56).
The two teenage sisters, Mun Geun-Yeoung and Im Su-Jeong arrive at their opulent situated in the countryside home after they had visited a psychiatric hospital. Su-Jeong undertakes a commanding performance while her sister is meek and on the receiving end. The whole scene portrays Yeom, their stepmother, as anxious and restless. She tries her best to make the two girls comfortable, although they had been involved in frequent confrontations.
I’m believes that their stepmother had a dark past that she is hiding from them, and does not trust her house either. The truth, which encompasses the family’s relationship, is tangled and cannot be resolved quite easily. Kim’s remedy is a muddled montage that aims at re-dressing the final scene; however, it does not solve the issue but complicates them further.
The act may be disappointing given the unusual over-the-head and behind-the-head shots that are accompanied by the fresh blocking in necessitating a horror scene. The shots generate a deafening moments that frightens the audience and moves toward realizing a rational conclusion.
The movie is successful as it does not demand explanations on some amazing acts; thus, allowing the directors to gently incorporate fear and guilt on the characters and viewers. In positing these characteristics, A Tale of Two Sisters is successfully in enhancing the character’s anxiety throughout the movie. This ensures that the horror acts denotes reality, and is able to haunt the viewer, several days after watching the movie (Corrigan 18).
Despite the movie’s impact and creation of horror themes by Kim, there are minor criticisms that have been subjected to the movie. The movie is slow, and the audience may find it difficult to follow the film. It takes a long time for it to reach climax and build the steam on the audience.
Although, slow films cannot be disputed if the subject matter is realized at a given period, horror movies need not have to involve many issues before instigating the theme of horror in the scene. In addition, the information provided is not enough for the audience or viewer to understand the exact acts that happened—it is full of suspense.
Though guessing and speculation is part of the stylistic devices that movie writers employ, some of the aspects would have been simplified in an attempt to reduce or minimize the puzzle. As the film is a success in harnessing the horror atmosphere, some of the scenes do not necessitate narrative when they are reviewed. They are solely there to generate tension among the viewers.
For instance, the scene where Su-yeon is seen hanging her feet in water while something is prowling below her feet, the scene where Su-mi comes across bloody thing in the refrigerator, and where the duvet of Su-yeon is pulled off (Maxted 124). These few examples tend to exemplify a direct fiction on the viewer, as most of these acts are not real—they are exaggerated.
The Eye, on the other hand, owes some of its success to its canny tapping in both local (Hong Kong) and Hollywood horror texts, but it succeeds by partaking of an ascendant contemporary pan-Asian discourse of horror. The Eye’s most immediately identifiable shared generic element is, of course, the protagonist’s ability to see ghosts, which she has in common not only with the young protagonist of The Sixth Sense, but with many other horror protagonists.
Sydney Wells (Helen) was blind since her childhood life. She receives corneal transplant that restores her vision, which she had lost during her childhood period when Helen, her sister, shot her on the face using a firecracker. After undergoing surgery, Sydney is able to see blurred images. However, it may be perceived to be normal phenomenon when one undergoes a cornea transplant after a long period without an eye.
However, the shadowy figures, in which Sydney sees, are ominous and quite different from the images of real people. In one occasion, she saw two shadowy figures, whereby the first one was leading an elderly woman away at night; the elderly woman was sleeping next to her bed in the hospital.
The following morning, when she wakes up, she found out that the woman has died. After the death of the woman, Sydney continues seeing the woman though the images are blurred, and she cannot figure out what she is doing. Cinematography plays vital role in this scene.
The camera lens is smeared with Vaseline to make the images blurred, and this is done for the half-an-hour footage shot that is undertaken. A significant twist here is that she is not at first aware it is ghosts she is seeing; this is narrative made possible in that she has not been able to see since the age of two years (Choi and Wada-Marciano 23).
The theme of unresolved issues from the past is also naturally common to many films with ghostly themes. The Eye primarily features spirits who just happen to be in transit and those needing to tie up emotional loose ends that just happen to have died in Helen’s vicinity. However, on one level, it does evince some of the sense of personal guilt of indebtedness or connection between the haunter and the haunted present in ghost films of the more vengeful variety.
Still another broader thematic repercussion of the narrative device of having the dead visible amongst the living is a heavy emphasis on the existence and close interrelationship of the past and the present. This idea resonates at numerous levels in The Eye, not least in settings themselves.
The initial setting of Hong Kong is imaged much as it is in reality as at once a city of modern high-rises and highways and of disused public spaces, where a ghost would feel perfectly like home. Hong Kong’s architectural variegation is even alluded to in dialogue at one point, when a waiter at an older and indeed haunted roast meat restaurant explains the situation in Hong Kong.
The emphasis on multilinguality points to another distinctive and central theme in The Eye, which links motives of transnationalism and haunting, to that of confusion over identity. Helen’s interest in her own identity can be seen from the moment her new vision begins to come into focus. Her first request is to be taken to the bathroom so that she can gaze herself in a mirror. This curiosity and interest turns to mystification and alarm; however, she realizes that some of her visions may be someone else’s.
Though the horror scenes are cheaply incorporated into the movie, it makes the audience jump more than once. In addition, the slicker look and the bigger budget boost some of the scenes despite being mere copies of the scenes of Hong Kong movie. In particular, one of the scenes involving a restaurant belonging to a Chinese is modified to a nice effect, therefore, displaying originality of the movie. Palud and Moreau are keen to ensure that the movie does not become one of the scenes of Ghost Whisperer.
Tell Me Something is one of the South Korean thrilling and horror genres. In 1999, the movie was dubbed hard-gore thriller due to its magnificent horror traits that is imminent in the whole episodes of the movie. The success is attributed to the slick trailer, big budget on marketing campaign, and the drawing supremacy of the two leaders. As such, with the movie’s rich cinematography, Tell Me Something was in high demand during the late 20th century.
The movie commences with mouth-gaping scene. A number of garbage bags begin to appear, in Seoul, totally filled with human body parts of the victims of murder. The case falls in the arms of Detective Jo, one of the disgraced soldiers who have subjected to brutal acts by their senior counterparts. Jo collaborates with Oh, and they quickly analyze the cases presented to them with an aim of getting a clue of the incident. The two cops learn that the bodies were of three friends who worked at Chae Su-yeon museum.
The film uses neon-drenched settings in an attempt to enhance the effect. Director Chang understands the need to create a requisite atmosphere, as he inculcates Tell Me Something with tension and creepiness associated with horror movie. The sound effect demonstrates the demonic and war-like atmosphere and the audience feels that they are in that ‘dark’ atmosphere characterized by evil spirits and war (Choi and Wada-Marciano 48).
The scenario is also boosted by Shim and Han’s underplayed performances, and the low-key script that gradually unveils as the movie continues. The script is well choreographed especially on the visualizations of sporadic killings, where Chang includes severed limbs, dissections, large amounts of blood, and decapitated heads. Indeed, for the viewers with faint heart, the movie should be viewed on an empty stomach.
For its two-hour running time, the movie engages the audience through suspense, and drawing them closer on the mystery surrounding the episodes. However, the last scene Tell Me Something falls apart. The scheme that embodies the killer is overwhelming and is overly elaborated leaving the audience with confusion.
Though the movie ends in a climax, orchestrated by great soundtrack and well-focused shots, the scene does not make any sense. It is hard to link the events that led to the final episode. More upsetting is the postscript of film, which introduces logic-defying scene that twists courtesy of the mysteries of murder.
Although some of the scenes prompt for viewing of subsequent episodes, others require motivations from the characters in order to make the movie cohesive. Ideally, numerous discussion groups in the internet, have been instigated in an attempt to discuss and unravel the mystery behind the movie’s convolute d narrative.
In my opinion, the confusion might have been brought about by the negligence of the crew and directors, omissions of some of the scenes that would have made the movie cohesive. The most obvious logical gaps that exist in the film are on the way Detective Oh can link unrelated scene that denotes crime to the murders that took place.
Indeed, if the ending had been characterized by lack of confusion, Tell Me Something would have gained wholehearted recommendation from the viewers. However, when the audience pardons the directors missteps and non-inclusion of some scenes, then there are more positive attributes to the film than the negative ones. The film posits all the stylistic devices embodied by an artwork including suspense, entertainment, and visual thriller.
In conclusion, the three films are the real works of the horror genre. The films should not only be recognized on the face value of its antique but intention of the developers of the films.
Although, the essay has focused only on three films; most of the horror films have implied meaning in the contemporary society, and should not be taken lightly. The themes and devices used such as sound design, cinematography and editing have been observed by the directors of the film in an attempt to fit into the market. Therefore, the films are a classic of a horror genre.
Choi, Jinhee and Wada-Marciano Mitsuyo, eds., Horror to the Extreme: Changing Boundaries in Asian Cinema. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2009.
Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide to Writing about Film. New York: Longman, 2009.
Maxted, Anna. A Tale of Two Sisters. New York: Dutton, 2006