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Original Title:
Yeogogoidam 5 - Dongbanjasal

South Korea 2009

Horror, Drama

Lee Jong-yong

Son Eun-seo
Jang Kyeong-ah
Yu Shin-ae
Oh Yeon-su
Song Min-jeong
Choi Min-seong
Kang Byeol
Hwang Seung-eon
Kim Su-hyeon
Park Ga-hee
Park Jeong-yun

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A Blood Pledge

aka Whispering Corridors 5

Story: One day the girl Eun-joo (Jang Kyeong-ah) jumps from the rooftop of her school. Her little sister Eun-yeong (Song Min-jeong) finds her and is devastated. Nothing indicated that she would take her own life and so Eun-yeong tries to get some answers from Eun-joo's former friend So-yi (Son Eun-seo). However, So-yi is keeping silent and her friends Jeong-eon (Yu Shin-ae) and Yoo-jin (Oh Yeon-su) also seem to know more about the suicide but they still don't clear up the numerous rumors that are spread about Eun-joo at the all-girls school. It is rumoured that Eun-joo was pregnant and commited suicide because of that. So-yi is even blamed by her classmates that she in fact murdered the girl since she was the last person who has been seen with the girl. Some kind of dark secret seems to be the reason for the suicide and in fact it turns out eventually that the four girls had made a suicide pact which only Eun-joo acted accordingly to. Therefore, the ghost of the dead girl returns and reminds the girls of their pledge...

Review: With "A Blood Pledge" the "Whispering Corridors"-series already enters the fifth round! No reason to be excited about it as normally movie series start to lose a bit of their appeal and initial energy after so many installments. But the fourth part "Voice" could already teach otherwise, so why shouldn't "A Blood Pledge" be able to work on a high level, too? After all, the series distinguishes itself from similar horror works by not simply delivering a horror treat for young men who want to hold their girlfriends when they jump off their seats in fear but instead combining horror and drama about actual problems at school in a well-achieved manner. Until now almost any movie of the series was able to work on two levels simultanously so that not only one target audience was aimed for. Sadly, "A Blood Pledge" works on the same level as the not so well done "Wishing Stairs". The reasons for that are multifold, but most of all are to be pinpointed on a badly written script.

A Blood Pledge - Film Screenshot 11

"A Blood Pledge" really doesn't make it easy to get access to the film. Numerous characters and names are thrown at you every minute and because of the school uniforms most of the girls look pretty much alike at first. If you then believe to have sketched some kind of overall picture the movies starts to jump between several timelines without any word of warning. If we then start to think about it, confused as we are, we realize that most likely there have already been a few flashbacks at the beginning and so most of the time we are occupied sequencing the movie into a logical timeline. That's very exhausting and costs a lot of nerves, especially since we already need to put the individual characters into a bigger context and because the relationships among them is playing a big role as well. After all, So-yi was once Eun-joo's best friend and you have to ask yourself what exactly changed for this not the be the case anymore.

A Blood Pledge - Film Screenshot 12

After the first half of the movie you got the worst part behind you and are able to somehow follow the plot. However, towards the end it becomes apparent that the story itself isn't that complicated at all, it's just that a confusing narration was supposed to make it look like that. Somehow you get the feeling of being betrayed as a viewer, but it gets even worse. The dialogues are oftentimes written extremely bad. Some scenes like that in which the girls are walking over the school yard at night and one of them believes that someone is behind them are even looking almost amateurish. Adding to that is the camera work that often stands out with a lot of shaking and tries to make the impression that another person might be in the same room. At some point this is getting tedious. The atmosphere of the film also has nothing mysterious or melancholic about it contrary to the other parts of the series.

Besides the lacking tension of the atmosphere the horror scenes aren't convincing either. Too much of it you have already seen elsewhere, to be exactly everything of it. Even though the drama has always been the seasoning in the series' stories and not the horror "A Blood Pledge" is having an especially hard time here. Things get even worse because of an editing that is working nowhere near normal guide lines. Parts of the movie look as if being edited in an arbitrary manner and there isn't any coherence to be found anywhere. Nevertheless, when at the end the several parts of the puzzle are put together the movie manages to be much more satisfying than we would have believed possible. Yes, you even realize that there could have been some profoundness to it as the film centers around the problems of teenagers such as pressure to perform, pregnancy, betrayal, violence at home etc. This all leads to suicide as the only way to escape. But "A Blood Pledge" simply touches the surface when it comes to those topics.

A Blood Pledge - Film Screenshot 13

The themes that are behind the horror are multilayered and deserve a far more thorough handling than they get here. Thus, the movie without a doubt stays far behind its potential. Also problematic is that the characters are too shallow. As with the other parts there have been cast some new faces for this movie, too, which is very welcome, but the girls aren't undergoing any development so that we also can't sympathize with them at all. Accordingly, the drama part which simply belongs to any "Whispering Corridors"-installment doesn't work. As if he where aware of that the director adds a cheap "the-haunting-goes-on" scene to the well-meant finale, that gave an idea of what kind of movie this actually could have become, leading to an disappointed groan by the viewer. Even though you get the feeling towards the end, that "A Blood Pledge" might get on track again, it remains a sad fact that this movie and "Wishing Stairs" both stand as the worst horror dramas of this series.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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