Friday, March 14, 2014

Review: White: The Melody of the Curse (2011)

White: The Melody of the Curse (Review)
Kim Gok, Kim Sun/Ham Eun-jeong/2011
Where To Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...nail-biting suspense, spooky visuals, and a plethora of jump-scares..."

Struggling girl group Pink Dolls flops on a televised competition against a very popular girl group, Pure. Lead by Eun-ju (Ham Eun-jeong), the Pink Dolls begin their comeback when they copy a catchy and addictive, and seemingly owner-less, tune Eun-ju found in their new studio...

White: The Melody of the Curse follows the Pink Dolls, mostly Eun-ju, as they see overnight success from the song they copied. The song has no known owner or rights holder, so they were able to slide through any legal actions and perform. But, of course, the agency and girls ignore the fact that the building they found the tape in, their new studio, is home of a vicious fire that took several lives. Anyway, the girls are unwittingly put against each other when the agency decides to have one lead for the song. I won't spoil the plot by giving away names, but they do get picked off one by one; are they doing it to themselves, or are they being haunted by the catchy melody they stole? The ending of the film is great; very spooky and brutal, definitely unexpected.

White: The Melody of the Curse starts off a bit slow. In fact, the film doesn’t really become a traditional horror film until the second act, or almost 30 minutes in. It's a hate and love situation: on one hand, there is very little horror going on in the first act, which obviously means there isn't much horror going on; on the other hand, I can really appreciate the film really building up the plot and the situation – it actually feels like it wants to tell a story. Don't worry about either situation too much, though, as the second and third acts of the film are filled with pure terror. The horror in White consists of nail-biting suspense, spooky visuals, and a plethora of jump-scares; the suspense is great, the spooky visuals are creepy and ominous, and they range from blatant to very subtle, and the jump-scares are fun – in fact, some of the jump-scares really startled me, and that rarely happens. I know some people hate jump-scares, but this is a film that really tries to scare, especially with some creative scares, and it often succeeds, don't count it out.

Ham Eun-jeong and the rest of the cast is great. Eun-jeong is a pop idol by heart, so the performance really felt natural and honest. The film is beautifully shot, the camerawork is very focused and often creative, and there is a great use of lighting and color. The music actually features a catchy tune, fans of K-pop will probably appreciate it the most; otherwise, you get a basic but serviceable jump-scare soundtrack. Directors and writers Kim Gok and Kim Sun create a very effective horror film; the writing is very focused and creative, developing real terror and giving some insight into the world of idols – and their obsessive fans.

Overall, White: The Melody of the Curse is a great horror film from South Korea. Although the main course is its jump-scares, White also offers great, well-developed suspense and tension, as well as some very spooky ghostly visuals. It's a treat for fans of Asian horror. It takes a while to really get started, but stick with it and you'll be rewarded greatly.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, and disturbing content.

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