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Original Title:
Yeogo goedam 4: Moksori

South Korea 2005

Horror, Drama

Choe Ik-hwan

Kim Ok-bin
Seo Ji-hye
Cha Ye-ryeon
Kim Seo-hyeong
Lim Hyeon-kyeong
Na Eun-kyeong

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aka Whispering Corridors 4; Voice Letter

Story: Young-eon (Kim Ok-bin) practices singing in the music room after school. Her best friend Sun-min (Seo Ji-hye) wants to bring her home, but Young-eon stays. Shortly thereafter Young-eon is hearing a strange voice. When she follows a creepy silhouette, which is walking the school's corridors, she suddenly gets attacked by it.
The next day Young-eon has to find out that she has become a ghost and can't leave the school building. The only person, who at least can her Young-eon's voice is Sun-min. Her best friend doesn't want to believe that Young-eon ist dead, at first, and moreover is very scared by the voice of her friend. However, as time goes on, she tries to cope with the new situation and wants to help her dead friend to find her murderer. Furthermore, the question still remains why Young-eon had to die. Maybe it had something to do with her beautiful singing voice? Is the music teacher (Kim Seo-hyeong), of whom it is said that she had a lesbian affair with one of her students, somehow involved in this? And more importantly, where is Young-eons dead body?
As the answers still keep eluding Sun-min, she finds out that one of her classmates, Cho-ah (Cha Ye-ryeon), can hear the voices of the dead since her childhood. Cho-ah tells Sun-min, that ghosts only remember the things they want to remember... So what secrety does Young-eon hide in her subconsciousness?

Review: "Voice" is the fourth installment of the "Whispering Corridors" series and manages to add some new facets to the genre, like "Memento Mori" did. However, the movie stays true to its original formula, too, and doesn't present itself as a mere horror film, but works heavily on a drama and character level. Which is also one of the movie's biggest strengths. Moreover, the story is told from a different perspective, this time. The ghost in the shape of Young-eon seems to be very peaceful and only interested in finding out who killed her, without having any exact wish for revenge.
In the movie's focus is once again the friendship between two girls, of course along with some subtle emotional scenes as Young-eon has to give up her ghostly existence someday in order to finally rest in peace. Nonetheless, she isn't ready for that, yet, and would like to stay at her friend's side a little longer. Despite all these aspects that make "Voice" more of a drama than anything else, there are actually some nice creepy scenes, which are exceptionally well underlined by a great atmosphere.

If you thought that in the 4th installment of this ghost-story-series only old ideas get rehashed or that you might get bored by typical Asian horror stuff, as this has been the case with "Wishing Stairs", then you'll find out that you're wrong, luckily. "Voice" is also exceptional in respect to the fact, that it starts to tell its story from a ghost's perspective. As the movie progresses this might shift, but it's just this introduction that draws a very human, almost likeable picture of Young-eon. There may be some inconsistencies in her story, as time will tell, but it happens to be just these little blackouts in her mind that Young-eon wants to fill out. Moreover, she doesn't seem ready to accept the fact that she is dead. She holds onto life, as anyone of us would in her place, and therefore has to make sure that her friend doesn't forget about her, as this would lead to her being unheard by her friend, which would force her to leave this world for good.

The motif of the voice plays an important role in a film with the title "Voice", as not expected otherwise. As Sun-min hears the voice of her friend she is able to hold her into this world like a kind of anchor. Young-eon herself starts to hear the voice of the ghost who may be responsible for her death at some time, and the numerous classical sung music pieces also add to the fact, that this movie mainly stands out, because of its focus on sound and voices.
But that's not everything. The cinematography also looks very good, the school is brought onto screen very lively, and there are some very sullen and gloomy looking sets, for instance the boiler room or the corridor with the odd glockenspiel, which is illuminated by an unknown source of red light. The movie's big plus is its great intense atmosphere, which manages easily to take us into this little world. Moreover, the film scores with some nice ideas and editing. Every now and then the rooms and corridors of the school building fade away and change into old memories of Young-eon. The special effects in these scenes are very good and especially the cuts and camera movements are pretty inventive and serve as nice eye candy.

As already said, there are also some well done creepy and frightening scenes to be found, which are accompanied by ghostlike singing voices, or are just so intense because of the great atmosphere. One of the best scenes is the one in the elevator. Yes, elevator scenes seem to be almost indispensable for a horror flick since "The Eye", but this time it's working pretty well, too. The elevator stops and when the door opens there is only nothingness. Still, out from the dark something seems to get closer and closer... That's just what nightmares are made of and "Voice" knows how to bring this on screen to scare the living hell out of its audience. It's just unfortunate that there aren't more scenes like that. All in all, the horror factor is only decent as the rest of the film proves.
Nevertheless, the wrapping of the film is just right. The lighting of certain scenes is very good and the music with its various choral pieces reminds us of the great soundtrack of "Memento Mori" and is even on a par with it.

It's interesting that the picture we get to see of Korea's all-girls-school is not such a strict and harsh one as in the other three movies. Times are changing, as it seems, and so we also get to see some more funny stuff, e.g. girls who rap in front of their sleeping teachers who just so happen to take a nap in the teacher's lounge.
Still, there are also some parallels to the prequels, as we once again are introduced to a lesbian relationship, this time between the music teacher and a student. However, at the bottom line, "Voice" proves to be surprisingly inventive and works a lot on a character level, instead of relying on cheap shocking moments. Towards the end there is also a big twist, which however also can be named the film's biggest sore point. U-Turns in a movie may be quite nice, but can also be rather frustrating. How well you get along with the twist in "Voice" is something you have to find out yourself. Still, it's an interesting approach that even ghosts are longing for nothing else than to remain in this world a little longer.

"Voice" is thrilling at any time, even if the pacing may not be at full-speed, which is ok as this is a drama more than anything else. Nonetheless, it never gets boring, as it's the search for answers that can keep our interest up at the beginning, whereas it is the relationship between the two main leads that serves as an engaging story thread. The two main actresses do a good job in their respective roles, the few horror scenes are technically top, the special effects are well done and the atmosphere is captivating. Wheter you prefer "Memento Mori" over "Voice" or the other way round is just a matter of taste. Latter one, however, is more easy for the brain, without having to sacrifice profoundness, and is therefore a well done sequel of this very drama-like horror series.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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