Movie Review by Almiro Jorge

Starring: Ha Ji-won, Choi Woo-je, Kim Yu-mi, Eun Suh-woo, Choi See-woo, Choi Jeong-yun

Director: Ahn Byoung Ki

Hello Sidney… No, it’s not another episode of SCREAM, but every bit as suspenseful.

The monotonous ring of the phone awakens the fear within her as she ascends to the thirteenth floor. “Hello?” she knows the voice on the other end of the line and yet the horror builds up within her. The woman hears a disconcerting noise on the line, which results in her demise and initiates the parallel story of an investigative journalist, Ji-won (Ha Ji-won), who has covered a series of sex scandals and as a result received a number of threatening calls. Taking advice from her boss, Ji-won takes time off from the project and changes her phone number and moves into her best friend’s house.

Ji-won begins to receive more mysterious phone calls and e-mails and, in true detective style, she starts investigating. She finds out that she shares the same number as a person who died in inexplicable circumstances.

While Ji-won is at a gallery with her best friend Ho-jeong (Kim Yu-mi) and her daughter Yeong-ju (Eun Suh-woo) when her phone rings again. The little girl answers the phone and her irrepressible screams ring out through the edifice. The youngster’s life has now been transformed into a living nightmare. Ji-won’s hunt for the answers takes her on a trip through the paranormal.

Director Ahn Byoung Ki opens the film with a truly chilling score and dissolves beautifully into the first sequence. Interesting camerawork and music actually dominate the first half of the film, which creates awesome tension and sets a sombre mood, between the flashbacks and dream views. Towards the second half, the shock becomes more placid and the unfolding of the story continues more subtly.

The performances are great all-round and especially by the young girl Eun Suh-woo, which plays the dual personality, possessed Yeong-ju. Although her character forcibly distorts her face to distinguish the characters, she is used to great effect by the director. The beautiful Ha Ji-won boasts a wonderful ability to alter her feelings on-screen to effectively show the terror in her eyes. Kim Yu-mi who portrays Ji-won’s best friend is noticeably the pick of the mature stars. With her realistic portrayal as a desperate mother and wife, she succeeds in bringing the film’s resolve to a grand finale, although her husband’s character, played by Choi Woo-je is often dreary.

With this film, director, Ahn Byoung Ki, definitely asserts himself as a Korean Hitchcock. His Hollywood-style directing, which is atypical to the east brings about a new dimension to foreign films. This is definitely worth a trip to the movies.

Ring, ring…

4 out of 6 stars