Review: Phone

Posted by Peter Hall - March 16th 2006 @ 2:11 pm

Directed by Byeong-ki Ahn, 2002. Review originally written 3-30-05

I’ll make this brief because I wasn’t very impressed with it. I’m a huge fan of the Asian ghost film. These days they’re the only thing being produced that does actually scare me. It’s a mixture of the over use of negative space, harsh contrasts and that simple -transcedental across every entry- ghost that is just a blue skinned girl, snow white eye balls, and black hair. That ghost can be thrown anywhere and it’s pretty damn effective, especially if it isn’t actually moving, which is the first (and what I found to be the second most effective freak out in the film) tension tester in the movie.

But even with the barebones, but proven to work, ghost, the movie doesn’t really go anywhere. The plot revolves around an investigative reporter who has just finished a successful piece on sex offenders and is being stalked so she changes her phone number and moves out to a house by herself. The new number is, let’s just say special, and she starts recieving calls consisting only of what I can describe as nails on a chalkboard performed by someone who doesn’t actually know how to make the sound. The woman starts to “unravel” the mystery around the whole thing as people around her die and/or become slightly possesed. I use quotation marks because the plot really doesn’t ‘unravel’, it kind of just falls apart. The narrative is broken into flashbacks as to what really happened to cause the whole haunting, but often times they’re completely out of place and are actually more annoying than helpful simply because they come out of nowhere. And by the time the plot does fully reveal itself to the viewer (though it certainly isn’t impossible to discern it prior to), which is of course right up to the end, there isn’t too much concern for any of the characters. I found myself not caring at all what was going to happen and simply was waiting out the rest of the running time.

Though the film isn’t entirely without benefit. The sound mix on the Tartan USA disc is perfectly balanced, which I found rather enjoyable. And the little girl in it is actually a pretty damn good actress for her age. She shows more range in 60 seconds than any of the actors do throughout the movie. And she has one damn cool fit of screaming in a museum that is enjoyably laughable.

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