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Original Title:
Du saram yida

South Korea 2007


Oh Ki-hwan

Yun Jin-seo
Lee Ki-woo
Park Gi-woong
Kim So-eun
Ham Yu-seon
Jeong Yu-mi
Seo Yu-jeong
Lee Kan-hie

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Someone Behind You

Story: Ga-in (Yun Jin-seo) is still attending high school and her boyfriend is the medical student Hyung-Joong (Lee Ki-woo). One day she is witness of her aunt falling down from a balcony. While people are asking themselves if the woman has been pushed by her groom, her surgery goes well and she is recovering from her injuries. However, after that Ga-in sees her aunt being brutally stabbed in her sick bed by her aunt's sister as if latter one is obsessed by someone. The following days more and more strange things happen and more than once Ga-in manages to escape death only by inches. The mysterious boy Suk-min (Park Gi-woong) explains to her that a curse has been put on her family and that she might only be able to survive if she doesn't trust her friends, family nor herself. Ga-in now has to try to find out about the background of her family's curse which is why she visits her grandfather who is living isolated from the outside world for 30 years already. But Ga-in is now even attacked by her own mother and apparently she really can't trust anyone anymore.

Review: Horror movies actually have a certain advantage over other genres as they can create an extremely tense atmosphere rather easily. At least in this respect "Someone Behind You" doesn't fail. Furthermore, there is finally (!) no black-haired girl to be found here which attempts to strike fear into the hearts of the viewer as a Sadako clone for the upteenth time. Instead the movie proves to be rather bloody and can even refrain from implementing drama that oftentimes finds its way into such films at the ending. With its running time of merely a little bit over 80 minutes this horror film also proves to be structured quite tight which is a welcome change. But all of that doesn't hide the obvious flaws that are outweighing the positive aspects. The story gets lost in incomrehensible twists that are making everything that came before seem just the more insipid and puts the question on the table if you should really mess up everything that there was resembling a story just because of lack of a real twist.

The original titel of the movie is "Being Two People" with which it actually forestalls a lot of the story already. The movie is based on the comic "Two People" by Kang Kyung-ok which is pretty successful in Korea. However, director Oh Ki-hwan, who also shot a decent rom-com with "Art of Seduction" and a well done drama with "Last Present", most apparently seems to have made a step backwards with this movie. Naturally, it poses a big problem if you don't care about the demise of the characters in a horror flick. Because then the whole purpose of such a movie isn't served. How are you supposed to be afraid, if you don't care about the individuals on screen? In "Someone Behind You" the character drawing is so weak that even Yun Jin-seo ("Secret Love", "A Good Day to Have an Affair", "Iri") in the main lead has problems giving her character any pecularities. Moreover, despite her young age she somehow doesn't look like a student anymore, which results in a certain incredibility.

Actually, we should thank director Oh that someone finally mustered up the courage to be more radical in a horror film than what we are used to see in that genre. Here, truely anyone can bite the dust. We can even imagine the the main lead won't survive the ending which naturally creates a little bit of tension despite all the rest. Unfortunately, we are soon trapped in familiar structures. We know that we are now going to accompany Ga-in on her search for clues of the origin of the curse and when we have found that origin maybe the ghost thirsting for revenge can be appeased. The familiarity with the build-up of the horror film makes the scenes at the old man's even the more lengthy and strangely we are as clueless as before after the visit at his place and hearing his stories. In fact, most of the time the movie is just threading water and there is no plot development that is actively controlled by the characters.

Ga-in also doesn't really act very intelligent most of the time and if you then consider that everyone around her could suddenly become a killer you have to ask yourself how the girl managed to survive even the first minutes of the film. The fact that everyone could go postal out of the blue naturally carries a big amount of paranoidity which is never fully made use of, though. Moreover, it is hinted at that the ghost is feeding off the thoughts of people who are wishing for other individuals' death. As is well-known there are enough of those people but the movie doesn't really make use of that either. The comparatively violent deaths are the only thing that can keep up a certain kind of thrill and a few of the shock effects, although easy to be seen through, are also pretty effective. Subtlety isn't the strength of "Someone Behind You", although this is just the department horror flicks should put a little bit more effort into.

However, it has to be acknowledged that the audience is mildly entertained most of the time and that the movie really works as a horror film without having to refer to a cursed object as the origin of horror. Thus, the director is avoiding the most clichéd aspects of the genre, but the story unfolds too slowly and answers are missing for too long. When towards the end the answers we were so much looking forward to are actually more or less non-existent and are replaced by oddly convoluted twists disappointment crawls in. The ghost, the curse, the characters, just everything in the movie lacks a motive. This makes the movie frustrating especially at the end, and the gritty direction the movie is heading into can't make up for that either. "Someone Behind You" may therefore actually serve as diverting horror entertainment, but definitely not as anything more.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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