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`Ghost' Adds Little to High School Horror

2004/06/17 | 910 views | Permalink | Source

By Joon Soh
Staff Reporter
After reaching the top of the box office last year with the Romantic Comedy hit "Tongapnaegi Kwawehagi (An Extra Class)", actress Kim Ha-neul got a frostier reception earlier this year from audiences with the ice thriller "Bingu (Ice Rain)". Kim now returns to the screen with "Ryung (The Ghost - Dead Friend)", one of a handful of teenage horror tales to hit theaters this summer.

"Ghost" is a bit off the beaten path for an actress who is usually found in romantic roles in comedies and dramas. Kim stars as Ji-won, a college student who suffers from amnesia; she can't remember anything about her past, and frightening dreams and a vague association to water are all that remain of her identity. Gradually, she discovers that something happened to her in high school, which becomes clearer as members of the high school clique she supposedly hung out with wind up dead.

The film looks like it could have been the most recent installment of "Yogogwedam (Whispering Corridors)", a popular series of horror films that takes place in high school, and in many ways it aims for the same teen audience. In trying to stay within the "12-and-over" rating, the film remains fairly tame in its depiction of its horror, giving only hints at what happens to the victims _ with the usual evil eyes and high-pitched screams _ and leaving the audience to fill in the gruesome details.

There's not a lot in "Ghost" that hasn't been done before. The eerie, gothic quality of Kim's house, which she shares with her alcoholic, psychotic mother, is also reminiscent of "Changhwa, Hongryun (A Tale of Two Sisters)", but without the same evocative sensuality. The best thing about the film in fact is Kim, who does an apt job playing what amounts to a split personality when her new angelic self discovers her evil high-school side.

The summer of horror began slowly at the box office when "Face" opened with a whimper last week. Seeing as how competition will only get stiffer with the local release of "Shrek 2", things are not looking too good for "Ghost" either.

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