Let’s get the positive out of the way. THE RED SHOES is no doubt well made and visually stylish. The director has technical skill behind the camera that makes for a good-looking film. It plays with some interesting themes of vanity and jealousy, and the acting is also pretty solid across the board, even from the little kid. These all sound like the ingredients for a successful movie, but its missing a couple things called “being scary” and “making any sense.”
The setup for your standard Asian horror movie is there (and when I say standard I mean a carbon copy of DARK WATER): a woman and her young daughter move in to a crappy apartment and scary stuff happens. I can even buy the “haunted shoes” as a plot device if they did something creative with it. Instead, all we get is an hour and a half of generic horror stuff—flickering lights, pale-faced Asian girls with long hair and the occasional jump scare. The director also seems to be under the impression that inserting blood equals “scary.” I’m not talking gore, just random blood. There’s a waterfall of blood from the ceiling, blood shooting out from under a girls dress, even blood snow. None of it is explained or has any bearing on the film’s story; it’s merely there to shock you. And just when things start to get a little creepy towards the end, the film devolves in to laughable nonsense and a lame twist. The end also sets itself up for THE RED SHOES 2: THE RECKONING, which I can only hope doesn’t actually happen.
Commentary by the director and cinematographer: The commentary is in Korean (natch) and was supposed to have English subtitles, but I couldn’t get them to work on any of the three DVD players I tried. So the only thing I can say about the track is that both commentators speak Korean very well.
Making of THE RED SHOES (17:02): Interviews with cast and crew about the movie, interspersed with behind the scenes footage. My favorite part is when the director says the film reveals the “extremities of a woman’s desire of her womanhood.” Because we all know how much women love shoes, haunted or not.
A Look at the Visual Effects (13:43): Apparently the film was digitally colorized (ala O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? or SIN CITY), which is what gives it its distinctive visual feel. People talk about the hard work behind creating the look of the shoes. Did they ever realize that they’re not red?
You also get a Theatrical Trailer and some Previews.
Extra Tidbit: The story is loosely based on the fairy tale “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Anderson.