Rating: 7/10
Year: 2002
Genre: Horror
Director: Ahn Byeong-Gi
Cast: Ha Ji-Won, Kim Yu-Mi, Choi Wu-Je

It is not a surprise if you begin to fear cellphone and the jealous mind of woman after seeing this film... As the highest grossed local horror movie of the year in Korea, Phone is even better received than Kwak Kyung-Taek's Champion at the box office. What is so special about it?

The synopsis should remind you of Ring, both of them utilize an everyday appliance as the subject matter to scare people, both narrative structures follow a basic detective thriller approach, and in both movies, the protgaonist is a female reporter. Similar to the Japanese horror classic, the filmmaker of this film is smart enough to generate terror from something that is almost a necessity in our daily life. In Ring, it is the television, while in this film, it is cellphones. The more the subject matter is closer to our life, the more we will engage ourselves in the story, and hence the more intimate our perception will be instigated by the horror. For those who don't enjoy Ring, don't worry. This film is not a copycat at all, the story is quite original and has its own touch.

As a horror film, what we care most is, how scary is it? Fortunately, in this regard, the performance of this film is not disappointing. Although there are few surprising new ideas, most of the scenes are well carved. The ending is quite creepy, I guess the filmmaker has probably drawn some inspiration from Ring and Alan Poe's novel Black Cat. Overall speaking, the most successful part is the mood of the film, everything appears dark and romantic (Yes, I wrote "romantic", you didn't read it wrong, and I didn't type wrong. If you have seen this film, you'll understand why). Another interesting observation is, there are quite a number of raining scenes in the film, I am not sure if there is any implication behind, in almost every of these scenes, none of the actors carry an umbrella and they seem to enjoy bathing in the rain a lot.

In many popular horror films, there must be some kind of sub-plot in addition to the frightening portion. The same rule goes to this movie. A gloomy and remorse love story is buried deep under the exterior scary coat. This tragic love tale is brought out slowly with the help of the use of classical music as the theme music and the employment of a blue tint filter throughout the film. I am not going to disclose the plot here and spoil your fun, the only thing I want to say is, the plot is getting intense starting from the middle and there are dramatic twists near the end, so remember not to get away from your seat at that moment.

The lead actress Ha Ji-Won is nominated for the best actress award at the Blue Dragon Award Ceremony with this film. To me, her role as the courageous reporter is ok, but it is not as impressive as the little girl character. This child actor is extraordinary. Her commands of emotions and dialogues are so professional that you can hardly believe she is just a kid. One remarkable side note is, there is an actress in this film who looks really like Vicky Zhao. Her big eyes can actually act!

Having superb box office result doesn't mean that Phone is remarkably good. Nevertheless, with an intact story and a straightforward narrative, it is still an engaging drama that is worth a look.

DVD (Korean version) - It is a 2 disc region 3 (indeed it is all region) DVD set. Disc 1 is the feature presentation, while disc 2 contains all the special features including deleted scenes, making documentary, ng cut, interviews, commentary, trailer, TV spot, behind the scene, real story, epilogue and production note. Unfortunately, the extra materials have no subtitles as usual.

Reviewed by: Kantorates