Friday, February 5, 2016

Film Review: Voices (aka Someone Behind You) (2007)

Voices (aka Someone Behind You) (Review)
Oh Ki-hwan/Yoon Gi-seon/2007
Where To Watch:
Netflix Instant
Amazon Prime

"Voices has something to say, it just tends to mumble throughout most of the film."

After a bizarre accident concerning her aunt at a wedding, student Kim Ga-in (Yoon Jin-seo) is inexplicably attacked by the people close to her...

Voices, also known as Someone Behind You, offers an interesting narrative – well, an interesting concept, at least. The film follows Kim Ga-in, a student. Ga-in's aunt falls off a balcony during her wedding; soon thereafter, her aunt is attacked again at a hospital. After this, Ga-in tries to proceed normally, but finds herself attacked by her family and close friends – classmates, teachers, and even her own mother. Hong Seok-min (Park Ki-woong), a quiet student suspected of killing his father at a young age, warns Ga-in: don’t trust anyone, including yourself. (She trusts everyone anyway.) So, Ga-in begins to search for the source of this curse that seems to be haunting her. The film leads to an incredibly unsatisfying conclusion; to be frank, the final act of this film offers no closure, leaving some gaping plot holes, and it feels like it belongs in a different film.

Conceptually, Voices is a very interesting film. It's more than the typical haunting/ghost flick, which I always appreciate. So, off the bat, it really catches you with the unique concept – family and friends trying to kill you for a unknown reason. I was engaged from the beginning, genuinely interested in seeing where it would go. I liked the initial sense of mystery, basically. It's not exactly the most frightening film around, but it can jolt you with some nicely executed jump-scares. I liked the nightmarish visuals much more, though. There are some very striking and bloody visuals in here. If there were a 'good horror movie' checklist, Voices would rank highly, right? Well, these are highlights for the first half of the film.

Voices does not offer a strong resolution for its concept or mystery. In fact, by the third act, it seems to abandon almost everything for something a bit more cliché. With this, it leaves a plethora of unanswered questions and glaring plot holes. It almost feels like you watched an entire movie of buildup only to watch the ending to a different movie. It's like the filmmakers came up with a clever concept and had no idea how to finish it, so they reverted to the clichés. Perhaps I missed something, but, then again, this film did not unravel neatly anyway. There are bits and pieces everywhere, hinting at something. When you put those pieces together, you get a distorted image of what could have been a good film.

The acting is good, though. I liked Yoo Jin-seo as the lead. Park Ki-woong was good as the 'cool,' mysterious character. The performances are a bit melodramatic at times, thouhg. It kind of takes you out of the experience when a film starts to feel like a soap opera. The film is shot well, at least. The music matched the mood, too. On the technical side, nothing stood out as excellent or terrible, which is something I can't fault it for. Writer and director Oh Ki-hwan knows how to craft some great horror scenes. He builds some effective suspense, an ominous atmosphere, and some terrifying visual set pieces. However, Ki-hwan's writing suffers from muddled storytelling, glaring plot holes, and an unsatisfying conclusion, which ultimately hinder the experience.

Overall, Voices is a mediocre horror film. I genuinely wanted to enjoy this film. In fact, I was thoroughly entertained for the first half, despite a few issues. The film's second half, however, begins to suffer from a lack of confidence. It seems to spiral into a tailspin of doubt – and not the good kind. The film is riddled with plot holes, crippled by inconsistent storytelling, and executed by an utterly disappointing finale. In this case, the bad outweighs the good. Voices has something to say, it just tends to mumble throughout most of the film.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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