One of the better movies to appear out of the Asian horror boom is Byeong-ki Ahn’s film ‘Phone,’ which finally gets a US release it deserves thanks to Tartan on January 25th. ‘Phone’ makes a drastic u-turn as it begins as a thriller and then becomes a terrifying ghost story. It has all the nail-breaking, long hair, white-skinned ghostly goodness that all Asian horror films have to offer.
The story follows Ji-won who is trying to finish her undercover report of a major sex scandal so she can retire and work on her novel. The problem is there is someone talking her and threatening her life, trying to stop the story from hitting papers. Her boss suggests working on a paranormal story instead, but she declines. After getting a new phone number to avoid this stalker, weird things begin happening. Her best friend’s daughter answers it and something terrifies her. Things get progressively creepier as the movie heads into new ground and takes a few major twists. The little girl Yeong-ju appears to be possessed and apparitions are appearing everywhere. Is there a connection to the threatening phones calls, or has Ji-won entered a new dimension of terror? You will never figure this one out.
What I loved about ‘Phone’ is how the story takes many different forms- it appears to be a thriller and then a ghost story and then a thriller again. And as the movie continues on, there are more twists than you can even imagine which actually give the story more depth. What really makes this movie a keeper is not the creepy nail-breaking, long haired, white skinned creatures of the night- it’s the possessed child played by Seo-woo Eun. I’ve been aching- dying for the matter- for a performance as creepy and chilling as Miko Hughes in both ‘New Nightmare’ and ‘Pet Sematary.’ This girl is freaking psycho and gave me chills down my spine.
The cinematography aided in the creepiness. Like most Asian ghost stories there are high volumes of color usage. ‘Phone’ specifically stuck to blues, which gave it a US ‘Ring’ look. The entire movie is slightly unsettling and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Although the movie is slightly similar to ‘Stir of Echoes,’ I did feel like I got something fresh and entertaining. I can watch ‘Phone’ over and over again and not get sick of it- and every person I’ve made watch it, loved it. Tartan is proving that they’re keeping their eyes and ears open in the Asian horror community because so far they’ve got nothing but quality in their possession. Watch for amazing ‘Tale of Two Sisters‘ soon, ‘Doppelganger‘ will be released the same day as ‘Phone.’ Don’t miss out on this film, I promise Asian horror fans will love it. Focus Features will be remaking ‘Phone’ for US audiences soemtime in 2005.
Special features on the DVD include audio commentary, interviews, behind-the-scenes, a making-of featurette, TV spots and Asia Extreme trailers. This is an added bonus because people who picked this up on Ebay years ago can now finally enjoy the extra features and understand what the hell is going on!