In terms of Asian horror, Korea and Japan are on and equal level. Though the horror films are produced in different countries, both countries produce fairly similar films with themes and scares. However if the horror genre isn't broke, why change it? Though many a fan are calling for innovations and changes from the norm. However, the following movies are classics before the fans caught onto the similarities.
The journalist Ji-won, after finishing a series of articles on pedophilia, begins to receive threatening phone calls. She makes the decision to change her phone number. When the young daughter of her friends picks up the phone, she begins to scream. Afterwards, the little girl start behaving oddly by shunning her mother and being overly attached to her father. Ji-won finds out that the original owner of the phone number disappeared after having the unrequited romance for an older man. What is worse, is the previous two owners of the number have died under unusual circumstances.
Broken down its most basic of forms, Phone is another movie that features a long haired female ghost like in Ju-on of Ringu. Since the release of the movies, that has been all the rage in Asian horror. However, if it works, why change it? I don't particularly mind the long haired ghost stereotype as it is something I have come to except from Asian horror. I do, however, like the little twist they did with the phone in this movie. I mean, a ghost haunting a phone number seems a little silly at first, but it just works. Especially today in your cell phone dependant society.
Shi-eun and Hyo-shin are two female high school girls that are in love. To celebrate their love, they write a dairy together. however, due to the social stigma that plagues their relationship, Hyo-shin starts to pull away from the increasingly dependent Shi-eun. Paired with Hyo-shin's shunning and her pregnancy from the depressed literature teacher, Shi-eun kills herself. After finding and reading the diary of the deceased Shi-eun, fellow student Min-ah feels drawn to Hyo-eun.
Memento Mori is the second movie in the Whispering Corridors series, like Wishing Stairs below this. This movie is probably my personal favorite on this list. When I first watched it, it was late, I was almost asleep, but the movie intrigued me so much by the end I was hunched over staring at the television. The movie shows the various events in a nonlinear fashion which draws the viewer in and makes them wonder what is going to happen next. It gets a little too supernatural during the end that kind of ruins what was a surprisingly chilling horror movie without ghosts.
As the legend goes, if you walk up the stairs to the school dormitory counting the steps aloud and an extra step appears, a spirit will appear to grant your wish. Jin-sung, who is competing with her friend So-hee for entrance into a Russian ballet school, remembers this and wishes to get in. To her amazement, she does, but it costs the life of So-hee. However, when the odd Hye-ji wishes the dead girl back, an unfathomable evil is released.
Wishing Stairs is the third movie in the Whispering Corridors series of movies. All of which are good, but the Wishing Stairs and the aforementioned Memento Mori are my favorites. Though the Wishing Stairs is less of a horror movie and more of a horror drama with supernatural bits thrown in. Like many of the movies on this list, when girls are "friends" and compete at something, horrible things go down.
Tale of Two Sisters
The Tales of Two Sisters focuses on, not surprisingly, two sisters Su-mi and Su-yeon. They live in a house with their timid father Moo-hyeon and their difficult stepmother Eun-joo. After Su-mi comes back from a psychiatrist, her and her sister begin to encounter a ghostly woman around the house. Tensions grow around the house when Su-yeon develops bruises on her arms.
Tale of Two Sisters is probably the most famous Korean horror film to the west. It has won countless awards and was the first Korean horror film to be played in American theaters. It is not hard to see why it is such a hit around the world. The Tale of Two Sisters is a psychological romp that sets itself up as a great ghost horror but then through a series of twists and turns that gives the movie a whole different life.
Mi-ju is a musician and a teacher. However, after a student threatens revenge after receiving a bad grade, strange things begin to happen around her. A ghost visits her and everyone in her household, from her dog to her husband and even her two children, are threatened by it. When death begins to close in, Mi-ju must find where the evil is residing that is destroying her family.
Perhaps I could have found a horror movie in Korea that is better than Cello, however it gets points for making me laugh as well as having a relatively interesting plot. It is not that cello tries to be humorous, it just sort of happens. For instance, her daughter never speaks and just kind of stares off into nothingness, except when she springs up to bite her little sister. I laughed so hard, I cried a little. The main character is just so completely surrounded by overly creepy characters that it is a thrill to see her interact with them. The plot of Cello sounded interesting and was, but I think it could have been fleshed out a little more.
Yun-hee is under pressure to produce something interesting for her next book, even though she has not published anything new in three years. When she visits an old friend in Vietnam, her friend informs her of a local legend centered around a girl named Muoi and her haunted portrait.
This is a joint venture between Korean and Vietnamese film makers, and with its 2007 release, Muoi was actually the first horror film to be made in Vietnam. There are strict film censors in Vietnam and they can be difficult for horror movies to get past. Muoi is not just the same old female ghosty seeking vengeance. In fact, the ghost in the film isn't that scary. What really chills about this movie is the interaction and relationship between Yun-hee and her friend in Vietnam Seo-yeon. Women, officially more scary than ghosts.