Horror anthologies are all the rage nowadays. They’re all over the place, and they’re quite popular. Then again, anthologies have been around for a long time, and as far as I know, they’ve always been pretty popular. This month, I’m reviewing this horror anthology from South Korea called Horror Stories.
South Korea for me is the Hollywood of Asia. The film work that’s been coming out of there for years now has just been nothing short of amazing. China and Japan make a lot of awesome films as well, but the polish and depth of the South Korean films never ceases to amaze me.
That said, I find that horror is a genre that, while it can be exciting and scary if done right, can also end up being very cliche at times as well, and that’s where we are with this one. While there is some great originality here, they’re sort of balanced out with tired cliches and predictable outcomes.
Let me fill you in on what’s in it, and then we’ll talk more about what was good and bad about each one.
Connecting Story: This is the story that runs through the film, giving you a reason for seeing all the other stories. In this case, it’s about a guy who kidnaps young girls and makes them tell him horror stories because he can’t sleep unless he’s really scared. The girl he’s kidnapped is smarter than a lot of the other girls he’s kidnapped, and actually stays alive long enough to tell him four separate stories, which are as follows.
The Good: The girl is a really good actress, and there’s always this tension about what the guy who kidnapped her is going to do.
The Bad: This is a really dumb arch story. I mean, the whole foundation of it is just stupid, and the kidnapper is too stiff and quiet. I wanted him to say more and to be more animated, but there just really wasn’t much there. Quiet stares and limited dialogue can be creepy, but if they’re overdone, they just become boring.
Don’t Answer the Door: Two kids are left alone at home one night by their mother who’s working late. Unfortunately, there’s a killer after them, and not just a flesh and blood killer, but his ghostly sister as well.
The Good: The kids! They were both just amazing young actors, and you’ll really be pulling for them to be ok. They’re both just adorable and they handle the whole horror aspect of the story wonderfully. The part of the story that covers why it’s all happening in the first place wasn’t something that was over expected and it gave a good reasoning for it all. The mood, atmosphere, lighting and sound design on this one were all extremely well, and worked harmoniously to set the proper mood.
The Bad: There’s a ghost that is SO cliched. It’s that typical Korean ghost girl in the white nightgown with the hair hanging over her face. I mean come on now, that’s absolutely been done to death. I mean, come on now.
Endless Flight: A highly wanted and very brutal serial killer is finally taken down and arrested. The police charter an entire plane to take him in, but during the flight, he manages to get free. Now, no one’s safe. Not the cops who are escorting him, and not the crew who are flying the plane and taking care of the stewardess duties. Will anyone be able to survive once he gets free?
The Good: Again, the acting was great. The plane setting felt very claustrophobic at times, and there was a distinct sense of tension created by confining the action into such a relatively cramped space.
The Bad: The whole thing was completely unrealistic. There’s no way one guy could have escaped and caused the murder and mayhem he did on that plane.
Secret Recipe: A doctor marries women and then kills them and slices them up so his deranged mother can make pickled meats out of them, which they then eat like a fine delicacy. Two half sisters fight for his affections in an effort to become his next wife, not knowing his bloody secret, but which one will be the next on the menu?
The Good: This story was pretty original, and there was some decent acting and decent gore. There’s also this amazing shot of a letter opener coming through a peep hole and stopping right in front of the eyeball of the girl on the other side. It’s one of those things you see in a film that makes you say, "Oh crap!".
The Bad: The story was completely implausible. No one marries six times, has all of their wives disappear mysteriously and doesn’t end up in jail for it. That just don’t happen, I don’t care if you’re a rich doctor, that kind of thing is bound to attract the attention of the authorities. There were a series of dream sequences toward the end that didn’t really work all that well either, and the ending was rather predictable from a point much earlier on.
Ambulance on the Death Zone: There’s been an outbreak of a disease that turns people into brutal zombies that are hell bent on killing anyone they come across. They become super fast, super strong and can infect others with a simple bite. A mother has a car accident in the quarantine zone and while she’s passed out, her daughter receives a mysterious bite. She gets her daughter to an ambulance, and the doctor and nurse try to help her while the driver tries to get them to the safety of the hospital, but with the potential that she could be infected and with the vaccine completely gone, they have to decide whether to just dump her before she turns, or to take a chance that she’s not infected. It becomes a struggle between a protective mother a caring nurse an inexperienced driver and a doctor who doesn’t want to take any chances, all with a horde of zombies chasing after them.
The Good: The tension in this one was palpable. I mean seriously. It was pretty amazing how tense this one was, and there’s this complete mystery about whether the girl is infected or not and the whole struggle over that while they’re being run down by a pack of crazed zombies. The performances were excellent in this one, and while you may think you can tell what the ending will be long before it comes…, not so fast. You probably won’t predict this one.
The Bad: I’m not sure. There’s something I can’t put my finger on here. I feel like it was a bit rushed. This story could have been longer and had more tension building that would have really built it into something epic. I mean, this story is seriously nightmarish, but I guess I just wanted more from it. More story, more character development…something. Like I said, I’m not really sure what was lacking, but something was. The rest of it was awesome though.
All in all, this was a pretty solid horror anthology. There were definitely parts of it that could have been done better, but there were also parts that were done really well. The atmosphere in every aspect of this anthology perfectly suits the mood and the visual look they were going after, and all in all, if you’re looking for something creepy to watch before you go to bed, this one would be a good choice.
This anthology was released by Artsploitation Films, and for special features, contains cast interviews, a 12-page collectible booklet, a reversible cover and trailers from other films released by Artsploitation Films. Both the visual and sound quality are excellent
If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out it’s page on the Artsploitation Films website here, and if you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get the DVD from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.