Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Review: Nightmare (2000)

Nightmare (aka Horror Game Movie) (Review)
Ahn Byeong-ki/Kim Gyu-ri/2000
Where to watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"...offers enough horror to make up for the story's shortcomings..."

Hye-jin (Kim Gyu-ri) and her friends are haunted by an ominous and mysterious figure of their past... but why?

Nightmare is follows this group of friends as they are picked off one-by-one by an ominous spirit of their past. Seon-ae (Choi Jung-yoon), a close friend of Hye-jin and the rest of the group, believe Eun-ju is responsible. Eun-ju, who had supposedly killed herself, shares a past with this group... a past with a devastating secret. Is she really killing them or is it all in their heads? Nightmare is somewhat convoluted and confusing, but I think most audiences will get the gist of it. The ending is predictable, especially for those with experience in the genre, but still managed to send some chills down my spine; the climax also dragged a bit and there is a small hole, but nothing too bad.

Like I said, though, the biggest issue for Nightmare is the storytelling. It gets the point across, but it is also inefficient. Not only can it be confusing, but it also lacks a natural flow – some scenes do not connect and it causes the film to feel disjointed. For example, during the first act, there are more than a handful of scares, but no bridge to connect them; a scare here, then the character suddenly appears in a whole new scene, another scare, and so on. The perception of time can be difficult, too; the film starts off as 2 years earlier, then skips to the present, then back to the past... but it lacks a suitable transition – I honestly didn't realize it had skipped to the past initially.

Fortunately, Nightmare is frightening. It's an old-school type horror film, like many American 90s slashers – of course, with a supernatural twist. The film develops an ominous atmosphere and mood early on and keeps it throughout. It also builds some decent suspense, which helps make the many jump-scares so much more effective. The visuals are the typical long-black-haired ghost, but it was still creepy; there's also a doll in the film, albeit underutilized, that was very spooky. All-in-all, the horror is very effective and very exciting.

The acting was also very impressive – especially by horror standards. Kim Gyu-ri is great as the lead, and she has wonderful support from Choi Jung-yoon and Yoo Ji-tae. A little melodramatic at times, but mostly great. The film is also shot very well, I would've loved to watch this film in high definition. The music is a little overwhelming and even melodramatic, but it definitely helps in building the atmosphere; it sounds like a traditionally horror soundtrack, and I'm okay with that. I watched the DVD of this film; the picture quality is decent, at least considering the age of the film, but the English subtitles were at least more than good enough. Although the story suffers from inefficient storytelling, Ahn Byeong-ki's direction is strong; he pulls great performances from the cast and crafts the terror very well.

Overall, Nightmare is a good film. The story, despite lacking originality, is satisfying; the storytelling, on the other hand, is mediocre and damaging. Fortunately, the film offers enough horror to make up for the story's shortcomings – at least enough horror to warrant one viewing. So, rent it or buy it at a low price. (It's very cheap nowadays.)

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and violence, some brief nudity.

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