Seen in Jeonju

Scary (2015)

11th October 2015

aka Scary House

aka Scary House

Ghosts in movies often haunt people under 40 years of age. If you are older than three decades old, you might experience a haunting, but not as the main character…and you probably wouldn’t survive your second scene. How refreshing it is then to find a movie where the focus of the paranormal activities in Scary was a somewhat older woman. However, just because she is older, does not mean she is an easy target for forces from beyond the grave. In fact, the pragmaticism that age brings combined with her naturally fiesty nature, makes this lady a formidable opponent.

The story is quite simple. Our unnamed character (played by Ku Yoon-hee) is the new owner of a three story building. While she and her husband will be moving into the top floor, the lower floors will be used for tenants and businesses. On the first floor, they are opening a photo studio. They have started setting it up with manikins of a bride, a groom, and …a ghost? The ghost is the ladies favorite and she takes several photos with it in which she pretends to be terrified of its faceless visage. But later, after her husband leaves on an extended trip, she ventures downstairs again and somehow awakens the ghost in the manikin and the terror she comes to feel is no longer pretend.

I had no idea what to expect when I turned on this movie and I was at first taken aback with how the movie embraces its non-existent budget. At first, I was not sure I liked it, but as time went on, it came across as rather charming. What better way to depict a manikin-ghost than by using an actual manikin. Sometimes it is attached to wires, sometimes animated by stop-motion technology, and sometimes an actor is put in a white dress, wig, and faceless mask for more action-oriented scenes. The simple special effects used for the phantom brought to mind the way ghosts were depicted in Korean movies during the 80s and this is clearly the intention of Director Yang Byeong-gan (who also plays the lead character’s husband). Even the poster is designed to resemble those of horror movies in the 80s. And at times, the sound track does not line up with the lip movements which really completes the illusion that this movie is from another time. None of this seems to be done to mock the movies of the past. Instead if feels like a loving homage.

Director Yang is no stranger to how films were made during the 80s. He started as an assistant director in 1980 to Choi Yeong-cheol with the film Goddess and debuted with his own film, An Ark Shell Lands on Earth in 1985. Never a prolific director, Yang’s last film prior to this year was back in 1994.

Scary is not simply a horror movie. There is a heavy dose of gentle comedy that come from the houseowner’s reaction to the ghost that leads up to a bloodless knife fight against in the basement thatis the is a must-see for its techniqual “ineptness.” Due to the style it is made in, this movie might not be for everyone, but I found myself truly enjoying it by the end.

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