Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
Song Yoon Ah
Lee Dong Wook
What's it about
Two detectives are on the trail of a brutal killer. But could the killer be from beyond?
Is it good movie?
On the back of the box for the South Korean film Arang, it quotes someone saying itís ďCSI meets The Grudge,Ē which isnít too far off. Actually, they could have added roughly ten other films to the list. Arang embodies more of those, ďI think Iíve seen this before,Ē moments than the average flick as scenes continuously remind of The Ring, White Noise, Pulse and even The Usual Suspects. Perhaps what sets that alarm off most comes from that Arang is yet another horror movie featuring a killer kid ghost out for revenge. Just like in Grudge and Ring, the killer ghostís long black hair has a life all its own, it appears on video only, it oozes out black goo, and it shows up to kill via email, making it the most deadly form of spam out there.
Where Arang differs from most of the other films comes from the focus on the detectives on the case. It tries to add a sense of realism to a ghost story, investigating with a scientific point of view. Our dicks, a female (Song Yoon Ah) and her new partner new to the city (Lee Dong Wook) are thrust into a series of mysterious murders of a group of friends. Whatís the connection? Well, they all committed a horrific crime years ago and now a spirit has come for them. Which means lots of killer black hair showing up out of nowhere.
One of the major disappointments I had was the lack of gore. Each of the death sequences showcased always ended with a zoom-in fade out just as the individualís death occurred. I suppose director Sang-hoon Ahn had attempted the Hitchcock approach, hoping that the audienceís imagination would be frightening enough. But that doesnít work. If youíve shown the ghost, delivered all the creepiness one can muster, then you need to deliver the goods. The gore. The blood. The anguish. This is horror after all, and if this isnít an intelligent psychological film, then show me the splatter.
With all that said, Arang isnít a failure. Sure, it suffers from the fact itís a collage of various other movies, but it remains enjoyable. It has some pretty good twists on the convention, and plays on our expectations of the genre. Iíd go into further explanation, but giving away the big twist is a federal offence in some states. The leads make a great team and Song Yoon Ah is quite good as our tough/sensitive detective who lives in a manís world. Sheís enjoyable to watch and has a presence. However, I do have one question: since when do detectives dress as if theyíre still in high school?
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital and 5.1 DTS
Audio Commentary: If you already donít like reading subtitles, itís tough to listen to a commentary while reading it translated while watching a subtitled movie. Confusing.
The Making of Arang: A 35 minute doc on the creation of the film. Itís interesting watching another culture at work on a movie.
Interview with Cast: A short three minute story.
Behind the Scenes: A 30 minute doc with interviews of the cast and crew detailing the process. Itís interesting, but on the slow side.
Interview with Music Director: A decent interview, though half of it is just the music running.
Deleted Scenes: 10 cut scenes for your viewing pleasure.
Though it suffers from been there, seen that, Arang remains enjoyable despite that it lacks the gore I've come to expect from Asia Extreme.