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Scary `Face' Keeps Things Simple

2004/06/10 | 263 views | Permalink | Source

By Joon Soh
Staff Reporter
It's June and so begins the annual onslaught of spine-chilling horror films to get you through those muggy summer days and nights. "Face", which kicks off the local part of the scare fare Friday, won't cause any blood-curdling screams, but still has a high enough fear factor to jolt you and your date out of your seats once in a while.

The film combines the horror genre with a good old-fashioned murder mystery. A serial killer has taken his or her fourth victim, but besides the bones, there are no other traces to identify the person. The only one who may be able to track the killer down is Hyon-min (Shin Hyun-jun), a forensics expert who specializes in reconstructing faces from the skulls of victims. But Hyon-min just quit the force in order to take care of his one and only daughter (Han Ye-rin), who needs his undivided attention after receiving a heart transplant.

However, Hyon-min finds out that it's not so easy to walk away from the job. Strange things begin to

happen in his house, like dirt and blood suddenly seeping through the floor. Ghosts and ghouls appear in his dreams and later gradually merge with his waking life. The frightened Hyon-min realizes that these hauntings, as well as the deteriorating condition of his daughter, somehow have to do with the unsolved case, and reluctantly agrees to take on an assistant (Song Yun-ah) and track down the identity of the victims.

At 93 minutes, "Face" moves through its story at a good pace, keeping things entertaining. The film avoids overly complicating matters by refraining from throwing in an overload of scientific explanations or plot twists. Even the romantic possibilities between Hyon-min and his assistant stay chaste enough not to distract the two from their work or the audience from the main plot.

The biggest problem with the film, in fact, might be its modesty. Though not entirely predictable, first-time director Yoon Sang-kun seems a little too content to paint by the numbers, putting in the requisite number of long-haired, nightgown-wearing spooks and tension-filled moments. In the big picture, "Face" may be too unassuming to leave a lasting impression, but those looking for a quick chill will probably get what they were looking for.

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