Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Whispering Corridors ( 1998 ) - South Korea

Whispering Corridors is a 1998 South Korean horror film about a girl's high school.

Plot : While investigating the school files, the frightened teacher Mrs. Park startles and calls the young teacher Eun-young Hur, telling her that the deceased Jin-ju Jang is back. The line dies and Mrs. Park is attacked and killed by a ghost. On the next morning, the teenager Jae-yi Yoon waits for her friend Ji-oh Lim, who has the ability to call the spirits, and they begin a close friendship. The abusive and aggressive Mr. Oh, a.k.a. Mad Dog, is the substitute of Mrs. Park and prohibits Ji-oh to paint and compares the performances of the pretty So-young Park and the weird Jung-sook Kim, raising a barrier between the two former friends. Miss Hur misses her former friend Jin-ju, who committed suicide, and while trying to contact her, she discloses a dark secret about the past of her friend and Mrs. Park.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for gore and guts, you won’t find them here. Sure, there are lots of bloody scenes, but they seem to be there in order to set the general atmosphere. Even the ghost story isn’t particularly frightening. What is horrifying, though, is the portrayal of real evils within the Korean school system. However, in the film, there are several instances of teachers physically beating young girls for extremely minor misdemeanours, sexually harassing them, and even making them carry out janitorial duties (as seen near the beginning, the class monitors have to fill kettles with hot water and scrub the floors and walls), and no-one (maybe except the new teacher Hur Eun-young) seems to bat an eyelash. According to Park Ki-hyung, this kind of event is pretty much standard in South Korean schools.And that’s where the true horror is in Whispering Corridors: this film asks a lot of hard questions, to which the school board could only find an answer in attempting to have the film banned. It’s a slow-paced, moody film with many resonant images and an eerie atmosphere, so if you’re also looking for a fast fix of horror, you’ve come to the wrong place. But it’s probably the most essential film that has ever come out of Korea, so if you feel frustrated by the slowness of the action and give up on it, you’re really missing out on a gem. Anyone who’s ever looked back on their own school days with horror, revulsion or sadness will not fail to be touched and reminded of their own difficult past experiences by this film.

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