Director: Kim Tae-kyung
Cast: Kim Ha-neul, Ryu Jin, Nam Sang-mi, Shin Yi
In recent years, most of the horror movies in Japan and Korea are simply revolving within the genre. No matter the plotline or the approach, there is hardly any innovations. Even though there must be a surprise ending, be it big or small, it usually wouldn't help much to raise the overall quality of the movie. Dead Friend, released in Korea lately, seems to be the latest installment of this library.
Dead Friend is also known as Ghost. With this simple English title, you could probably realize how confident and ambitious the filmmaker was with his film. Similar to Hong Kong movie Jiang Hu, the film was named after the genre it belongs to, and unfortunately, it also fails to live up to its expectation. Although, same as Jiang Hu, the movie has no big flaw, it is nevertheless absolutely not good enough to be the "representative" of the genre as the film title may imply.
The story centers on a college student. Ji-won (Kim Ha-neul) suffers from amnesia and forgets all her old friends. During her quest to recover her memory, she begins to slowly remember her horrible past. However, she is not aware that her life is at stake... Just like any school horror, it offers a very typical "revenge" plot. The pace is quite slow and tension is built up gradually. New director Kim Tae-kyung's storytelling technique is qualified. The narrative is moderately engaging but it seems to drag sometimes, perhaps it is because some of the characters are quite vaguely depicted, that you can't really understand their motives and behaviors.
In terms of the horror aspect, I am personally quite disappointed. The director is definitely running out of ideas to shock the audience. Usual elements like the "long hair female ghost" and disturbing sound effects are used over and over again, that even if you are watching this movie alone at midnight, you wouldn't find it scary at all. Instead of fear, you may actually find those horror scenes laughable.
The major, and only selling point of this movie is probably Kim Ha-neul. In her first appearance in a horror movie, Kim was assigned a very complicated role. In terms of personality, Ji-won is almost a totally different person before and after amnesia. Luckily, Kim successfully demonstrated her abilty and diversity as a professional actress and handled the "split personality" of her role properly. Lead male Ryu Jin is not as fortunate as Kim as his role is quite meaningless. Not only does he share very limited screening time, his character is also a total waste. His supposedly romantic relationship with Ji-won is quite unconvicing as it is never fully developed.
Dead Friend is an average horror movie, and as expected, the plot twist at the end does succeed in generating a nice little surprise. Other than that, there isn't really anything impressive... or wait, perhaps a special mention should be given to Kim Ha-neul for provding an engaging performance that saves the movie from being a flop.
Cool guy(s) - Kim Ha-neul
Reviewed by: Kantorates