Fact: those who complain that South Korean horror flicks are
played out won’t find anything in this haunted train flick to invalidate
Director Dong-bin Kim is best known for 1999’s RING
VIRUS (the Korean remake of
RINGU). That film was a skilled but unremarkable piece of
work, and so is 2005’s RED EYE (REDEU-AI). It appeared during the peak
period of the South Korean horror craze, and is very much of a piece
with most such films--meaning if you’ve already seen THE RECORD, SORUM,
CELLO, PHONE, THE RED SHOES, WHISHING STAIRS, ACACIA or OUIJA BOARD than
you really don’t need to bother with RED EYE.
A Korean passenger train leaves a bustling station one
fateful night. On board is Mi-sun, a pretty young attendant. What she
don’t initially know is that several cars from a crashed train have been
incorporated into this one--and those cars are said to be haunted.
Furthermore, the new train is embarking on the sixteen year anniversary
of the accident, whose victims included Mi-sun’s own father.
The scariness begins when the conductor stops the train
suddenly after seeing a little girl appear on the tracks--who of course
immediately disappears. Mi-sun finds herself thrust back in time, caught
inside one of the phantom cars on the day of the accident…or at least,
she thinks so. After several more such scares Mi-sun comes to believe
she may be cracking up.
But then others begin experiencing the ghostly
manifestations, and the ghosts actually take over the train’s engine,
causing it to overrun a scheduled stop. Then the lights go out and a
spectral woman arises out of a pool of blood and the train cars turn old
and cobwebby…and so on and so forth.
This is very much an old school scare flick that relies
on sudden appearances/disappearances, flickering lights, creepy sounds
and, even though it’s a Korean film, the horror so many Japanese
filmmakers seem to have for pasty women with long black hair, with shots
of black hair turning up in unlikely places, bursting out of faucets,
etc. (which will be familiar to viewers of J-horror fests like RINGU and
DARK WATER). It’s all very tiresome and repetitive (I lost count of how
many times a wide shot looking down the aisle of the haunted train car
was repeated), to the point that when the big special effects laden
climax finally arrived I’d long since lost interest.
Director Dong-bin kim, however, knows his stuff. The
admirably precise color coded imagery is sleek and impressive, with
excellent use of telephoto lenses. There’s even some experimental
innovation, with a large portion of one scene lensed upside down and an
entire sequence viewed entirely through flickering strobe lights. All
that, however, means very little in the absence of a solid screenplay.
RED EYE (REDEU-AI)
Director: Dong-bin kim
Producers: Nam-hie Kim, Yong-guk Kim
Cinematography: Hee-Seong Byeon
Editing: Min-keying Shin
Cast: Shin-yeong Jang, Ji-min Kwak, Dong-kyu Lee, Hye-na Kim, Eol Lee,
Hyeon-suk Kim, Yeong-suk Jeong, Dae-yeon Lee, Won-sang Park