Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Ogsuyeog gwisin (The Ghost Station)

FrightFest review – Ogsuyeog gwisin (The Ghost Station)

Based on a webtoon, this Korean spook movie has an urban legend-friendly prime setting but is perhaps too slavishly modelled on Ring for comfort.  Surely that J-horror franchise owns angry spooks who haven’t got over being left to die in a covered well?  We do get a lot of new, different details but the shape of the story is very Ring-like too.  Bad things tend to happen late at night in Oksu Station – mostly involving people getting in the way of trains, or committing suicide after witnessing people getting in the way of trains … only some witnesses claim to have seen ghost urchins (who identify themselves by four-figure numbers which are key to the plot) around the station … and everyone marked for doom sustains mysterious scratches (we occasionally get glimpses of ghost kids inflicting these on folk they’re clinging to).

As in Ring, the protagonist is a reporter – Na-young Kim (Bo-ra Kim) – with a personal connection to the escalating curse (called a ‘grudge’ in subtitles), though in a nod to the changing times she’s working on a tabloid internet site with precious few ethics and a sinister managing editor (Soo-jin Kim) who demands clicks and ad revenues but also dishes out arbitrary orders and punishments even if Na-young brings in scoops.  We get snippet-like scenes of the curse in action – this sort of structure is endemic to films based on web series – which are mostly calculated to deliver jump scares and pay off by adding to the tally of the dead.  In keeping with the cynicism about the media, the film goes out of its way to present awful people being terrible to each other – in the deep backstory, child abuse (and medical exploitation) is covered up for political and financial reasons … but in the present day, we get several ruthless characters happy to pass the grudge parcel to others if it means escaping their own doom.  Directed by Yong-ki Jeong (The Doll Master).

Here’s the FrightFest listing.




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