Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

OP OP OP OP OPPAN GANGNAM STYLE





White: The Melody Of The Curse aka Hwaiteu: Jeojooui Mellodi (2011) 
South Korea

You would think that a movie like this would have too many strikes against it to be worth a look - I did. Fortunately I was wrong about this one. Yes, it's Korean and some things are hard to understand even with the captioning, it's Eastern horror which means curses and vengeful ghosts, it's about a girl K-Pop band, and it comes in at 106 minutes.


But this movie was well made, it had some good special effects and some that were just okay, the story was pretty clear and the ending was not something I could write halfway into the movie although it seemed it would be. Apparently in South Korea, to be a 'K-Pop' debut star is like passing tryouts for a dozen American Idol contests. Not to get to the finals, I mean win the actual contest a dozen times. 

There are thousands of young, beautiful girls who've trained hard to get into the 'biz. The girl group 'Pink Dolls' are no exception. Trained in dance and singing, it's all for naught when they lose a televised competition to another group that looked just like them (no I'm not being racist, just saying they're all about 16 and gorgeous and interchangeable) and so are ready to quit. 

They then get a new studio where their manager will grill them to work even harder to try to record a hit (unless they're willing to wear a yellow suit and dance like they're riding a horse). But even within the group, there is competition to be the 'lead' girl, the others considered merely glorified backup dancers. Hmm, I wonder if *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys or New Kids On The Block ever had that problem. I'm looking at you Joey Fatone.

The studio has been mostly rebuilt after a fire wrecked it 15 years ago. This was the point where I thought I could safely map 
out the rest of the movie, conclusion and all. I had some points but I was wrong about a lot of others. While checking out the wall of mirrors one day a girl finds a cache of VHS tapes, with one marked 'WHITE'. When they try to look at the tape the picture is crap but the music comes through. 

Since as I said there are thousands of young hopefuls with thousands of potential hit songs that never get heard, these girls decide to steal this song and make it their big hit. They even attempt to copy the choreographed moves. I guess for the purpose of 'what happens next' I should tell you who's in the group: Je-ni, a singer insecure with hitting high notes, Ah-Rang, a singer addicted to cosmetics, Shin-Ji who can't sing, but is an excellent dancer and Eun-Ju, the eldest and former backup dancer who is constantly bullied by the younger three.

When at the next contest they perform White they are an instant success. Now to promote the snot out of this song (in Gangnam Syle) the manager decides that the 'lead' girl should wear a white wig to stand out from the rest of the girls. This causes a lot of inside tension since the girls are already at each others throats to be the standout girl - and now the bad stuff starts. And despite the captioning I'm getting lost so I had to borrow names and some things from wiki - sorry about that.

Je-ni who, after recording for the lead but still failing to hit the high notes and has to use a process they called 'doubling' (having another singer cover those notes over her voice), is found hanging from a cord inside the studio. Next Ah-Rang becomes the lead but starts reacting to her makeup which causes her eyes to swell and turn red. Since she can't see, while recording on stage she sees... something bad and falls off the stage. The doctors say it is simply a bad reaction to cosmetic surgery. At her age? Sheesh. Eun-Ju suspects a connection to the leads' bad luck so now we get our Scooby hats on and try to figure out if it has something to do with the original girls who performed the song they stole.

Well duh, of course it does - this part I easily mapped out. They stole a song from girls that had something bad happen to at least one of them and so each girl, as she is named the 'main' girl is gonna get it. It's horror movie 101 stuff - you just get to figure out the how. One pretty cool effect that got ruined by the setup was before Ah-Rang went on stage she was practicing in front of the wall of mirrors. Now I had to look at that sequence a few times because her movements and the mirrors didn't quite sync up. There was a reason for that. 

What they did (which would have been more clever if they'd done this more carefully) is the subtle effect of while she's dancing there's probably a dozen mirrors all dancing back at her - until one starts to make moves of its own. That was pretty damn cool and if they'd just done a plain sequence with her dancing then substituted that particular mirror in editing it would have been terrific 'cause even flawed it was pretty creepy. She checks out her reflection and we all know that's a bad thing to do, isn't it Scooby fans? Of course the image turns into a ghostly ghastly image and scares the hell out of her.

And so after some sleuthing it's discovered that the singer from the video, Jang Ye-Bin, died in the fire in the studio because she was blamed for the suicide of a backup dancer. That backup had wanted to be the 'main' so Jang and the others forced her to drink bleach and also splashed it on her face, ruining it. Ouch. But then they figure Jang started the fire because HER face was scarred - uh wait. Now I'm confused even with the wiki and my notes. The point is that SOMEBODY got their face messed up and they are PISSED. So whenever that song is played, watch out. Shin-Ji is next and sure enough, while participating in some psychedelic reality show (Eastern TV can be just as weird) her hair is caught by a high rise camera and eventually she's crushed under it - but lives. All three girls are now in the same ward. How convenient.

Eun-Ju is the only girl left and does NOT want to go on being the 'main' (actually she's solo now but...) so she has a ritual to put Jang to rest (this kind of stuff is BIG with Eastern culture) and after that is done, well all is good as gold now and Eun-Ju can become a superstar (hey, there's a ton of one-hit wonders after all). To make herself stand out (uh oh) she bleaches her hair white and wears a ton of makeup (in other words, she looks like a teenager) and her cycle of fame begins. Meanwhile the friend who'd helped her (the same girl who performed the 'doubling' on the soundtrack) is kind of left by the roadside, bye bye girlfriend. 

We are also now getting a better look at the girl from the Ring - uh no, wait sorry. It's just that all these goopy looking Eastern ghosts are starting to look alike - nasty gaping faces, lank black hair hanging over their face (until of course they want to scare the crap out of someone) and crawling along like a creaky spider.

Now this movie should be over, but no, we've got 106 minutes to fill and we're not done yet. Eun is going to compete on television to see if her song will get the #1 spot (boy am I glad we've got the Billboard charts, we don't have to go through this stuff). Her three former 'Pink Dolls', when they see she is going ahead without them and taking all the glory somehow convince the sponsor to let them announce the contest - and all three commit suicide on television (now THAT would be something).

Now Thelma - err I mean her friend Soon-Ye was already upset about basically being dissed by her former friend and she burns all of everything reminding her of Eun - now officially going by the name 'White'. But her suspicions still get the better of her (especially after seeing the girls kill themselves) and she goes back to the recording studio. She finds that the supposed singer/ghost did NOT sing the song White - it was dubbed, or as they called it, doubled. She tries to warn Eun but she's too important now - and due to the appearance of the REAL singer ghost (don't ask, I'm lost even with the wiki) there's a panic in the studio, the lights go out, and Eun is killed when she is trampled to death by her adoring but get-out-of-my-way-or-I'll-kill-your-ass fans.

 Our last view is Thel- umm I mean Soon-Ye at a karaoke bar which the East have more of than we have Starbucks and she's getting rid of anything and everything White. Not soon enough - she hears someone select that song on the machine which would be no big deal - except that she herself is the one who 'doubles' on the soundtrack and she's next on our strange white-haired ghost's hit list...