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MEMENTO MORI
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Reviewed by: JimmyO

Directed by: Tae-Yong Kim, Kyu-Dong Min

Starring:
Min-sun Kim
Yeh-jin Park
Young-jin Lee

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
At an all-girl’s school, a student discovers a secret diary written by two of her fellow classmates. As she finds out more about their love, tragedy soon follows and brings ghostly results.
Is it good movie?
Memento Mori felt like two different films. The first was a coming of age drama about two young girls who have fallen in love and have to face the real life horror of someone finding out. The other is a silly ghost story derived from when someone involved comes upon an untimely death. Directors (yes there are two credited) Tae-Yong Kim and Kyu-Dong Min really made the most of the love story. This is a beautifully photographed story of love and loss. The music and the lighting make for quite a pretty picture. Add to that some very natural performances from our love birds, Yeh-jin Park and Young-jin Lee, although they looked much too old to be going to this school, they had wonderful chemistry and made me believe in the romance. I enjoyed all the moments they spent together including times on the roof or cleaning the pool for causing trouble. Wonderful performances from both made for a much more interesting story. I also enjoyed Min-sun Kim as Min-ah, from when she found the diary to her growing fascination with the couple. There was a fantastic story here but sadly, the “horror” interferred.

Very little horror elements are brought in until close to the end. And when we get there we are treated to a few creepy moments lessened by a ridiculous Carrie style sequence. Don’t get me wrong, some of the ghostly elements worked but it just felt odd and out of place. I was much more fascinated by the three main characters. But even that got a bit silly when a fourth player gave it a soap opera type quality. One of the teachers, Mr. Goh, albeit a nice performance by Jong-hak Baek didn’t feel necessary. I do have to say that I appreciated the attempt to create a different kind of J-Horror flick; Yep, no long-haired girl ghosty in this one. Yet this could have been a beautiful film about the trials and tribulation of hot lesbians making out in cheerleader outfits while washing a car… wait, it wasn’t that either. No, it was a strong character study which was marred by a forced and predictably ghost story. The translation for the title, "remember the dead" could have worked if they had told a tragic love story, without the hocus pocus. But of course, we wouldn’t even be talking about this flick at Arrow in the Head without the ghost story.
Video / Audio
Video: The Anamorphic Widescreen presents itself beautifully.

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound or the DTS Surround Sound 5.1 gives way to a beautiful score. Very nice.
The Extras
The extras are basic. But this is not surprising for Tartan Asia Extreme. They include a Making of Featurette (25:21). We hear from Tae-Yong Kim, Kyu-Dong Min and the three main actresses, Yeh-jin Park, Young-jin Lee and Min-sun Kim. Although pretty basic, we get a nice look at some of the main sequences in the film. Not a bad watch but it reminded me of why this shouldn’t have been a ghost story.

Next we get a Photo Gallery. It’s one of those point your remote and click. But the photographs reminded me of how beautifully this was shot. But again, point and click doesn’t get my ghost.

Here’s a Music Video (4:17) featuring footage from the film with part of the score thrown in. For this, I could just watch the film.

And lastly, we get Trailers for Whispering Corridors (1:13), Phone (1:14), Koma (:41), A Tale of Two Sisters (1:59), Heroic Duo (2:17), Memento Mori (2:39) and finally Oldboy (1:29).
Last Call
Memento Mori could have been something really special. With some very natural performances and some incredible photography, this could have been a sweet yet tragic coming of age tale. But horror is popular so why not add the ghost story. Well, a good reason why not because it didn’t work. By the time it comes it really seems like too little too late, aside from a few “eerie” moments early on and some telepathy between characters. But all this could have made for a really fantastic film without trying to jump on the J-Horror bandwagon. As an ill-fated romance, Mori is worth remembering but a when it gets ghostly, you’ll soon forget.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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