Seen in Jeonju

Chasing the Ghost Sound (2010)

19th April 2011

chasing the ghost soundA television crew filming a weekly program that tracks down supernatural activity and ghosts is called to the house of Geum-ja. There they meet the tense woman and learn why she has come to believe her house is haunted by the spirit of her younger sister. During an interview, the crew learns that some time not too long ago, Geum-ja’s sister and husband were killed in a car accident.  The interview quickly sours however when the producer questions the relationship between the two dead people. Rather than continue and upset their host further, the television crew sets up cameras and mikes in the hopes of catching a ghostly visitor or hearing any unexplained sounds.  However, after hours of filming and sound recording, the team packs up without hearing a thing. As they pack up their equipment, Geum-ja is left alone with her dark thoughts and in a foul mood because of the insinuations and suspicians of the camera crew. Then she hears a sound.. a voice… and she knows that she is not alone. She recognizes the voice of her sister whom she feels has a message of forgiveness for her. However, she cannot make out the words. She screams for the television crew who answer her call and they immediately begin making EVPs– however when they analyze the sounds, they can only make out five syllables which apparently have no meaning. The crew gives up but leaves Geum-ja with a copy of the recording which she listens to..until she realizes that the syllables are actually the scrambled words. She quickly goes to work unscrambling the sentence not realizing the horror she about to unleash….

The English title of this film fails to take into account the full Korean title which, if translated, would be Invisible 2: Chasing the Ghost Sound.  What then was Invisible 1?  It was a short film made back in 2004 by director Yoo Joon-seok, who also created this film. It’s full title was Invisible 1: Chasing the Hidden Sound… it really was called Invisible 1. Apparently Yoo has been planning this sequel for quite a while.  The first movie screened at the 5th Jeonju International Film Festival and it was about a tape recorder found at the scene of a murder. The detectives attempt to unravel the crime based only on the sounds caught on tape. However, they learn that sound alone is an incomplete and inaccurate method of painting a picture and can easily be manipulated… as done by the spirit in Chasing the Ghost Sound. When Invisible 1 screened in Jeonju, critic Yoo Eun-seong called it ’stale’ as it relied on twists and reversals as seen in movies like Usual Suspects, but “the director’s witty way of dealing with images and sound is definitely something viewers will want to keep seeing.”  The same might be said for Invisible 2. It definitely lacked originality with its faux-documentary style filming that we have seen a lot of recently in horror movies since The Blair Witch Project.  However, the use of sound was very interesting and as Geum-ja was unscrambling the sentence, I found myself becoming increasingly engrossed as I was trying to unravel the mystery with her. 

I had reviewed one of Yoo’s films earlier on this site, it was Coma: The Necklace, the third chapter of that story. At the time, I was disappointed with his effort on the film saying that it derailed the suspense and mystery set up by the two earlier chapters. I also said that the step away from the supernatural in that portion of the story may have been because the main character in that segment was not prone to flights of fancy and this theory was subsequently backed up by the fourth chapter which featured an unstable artist who saw ghosts everywhere she looked.

As far as the ghost in Chasing the Ghost Sound, I have to admit that she made me jump. However, there was nothing original or unique about her– I jumped more out of surprise than fear. I watched this film on Hana Tv–my internet tv provider –and it does not seem to be available anywhere else at this time. There were no subtitles and frankly I don’t know if it would be possible to provide subs on this film as the key to the mystery hinges on unscrambling syllables to form a sentence in Korean.  As a final evaluation, I guess I would say that this film is nothing new, but not a bad way to spend a spare 40 minutes.

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