Dead Friend (Review)

Dead Friend

aka The Ghost aka Ryeong

2004
Starring
Kim Ha-neul as Min Ji-won
Nam Sang-mi as Su-in
Bin as Eun-seo
Shin Yi as Shin Mi-kyung

Asian horror grows ever popular, and it’s coming from all fronts, Japan, China, and South Korea (with some Thai thrown in for good measure.) The movies Ringu and Ju-on have helped forefront and onslaught of ghost films, many of them featuring creepy schoolgirls with long hair covering their face. I bring that up because you wouldn’t guess what the ghost here looks like….yep, gave it away. So what sets this film apart from the rest of the clones? What? Kim Ha-neul from Too Beautiful to Lie! Nam Sang-mi from Spygirl and Too Beautiful to Lie! Shin Yi from Sex is Zero! It’s a convention-fest-o-rama of cute Korean girls who’ve showed up here before! That’s almost enough to forgive the ghost rehash.



The movie starts out with a seance/Ouija board being run by some teenage girls (as we all know from similar films, this is a bad idea.) The seance leader is Eun-jung, and her sister is Eun-seo (played by Korean Music Star Bin), who interrupts them complaining. Later that night, Eun-seo finds large amounts of black hair in the sink, is attacked by moving water that makes her vomit more water, and something that has creep up behind her. Are you scared now? You should be, but only because this movie looks like so many others that have popped out of Asia recently (and now the US as well, remake style) and maybe the only ghosting going on will be your money disappearing down a dark hole.

After the title credit ghosts it’s way around the screen, the main story can begin. Kim Ha-neul is Min Ji-won, typical Korean college girl, complete with male friend who can’t swim, scars on her wrist, and the ability to notice mysterious women who take photographs. that itself is a valuable skill in Korea, as phantom photographers are a plague upon the land there ever since the civil war that tore the country into two. As this is a horror movie, we won’t be seeing all the cute faces Kim Ha-neul makes, though we do get a nice assortment of them, so it’s enough, for now. Ji-won has heart problems, is on some medications for it, and also has amnesia, she cannot remember much of her past from a year prior. Her mom is also upset over her father’s death, and yells at Ji-won constantly.

Ji-won sees a girl in her locker at the pool who promptly vanishes from it. Later, Mysterious Camera Girl reappears with photos of and knowledge of Ki Ha-neul pre-accident. Don’t get too attached to Mysterious Camera Girl, later she’s developing some photos, and sees the girl from the Ringu movies, or something that’s amazingly like her yet independently created so they can’t sue, who precedes to drown Mysterious Camera Girl in water. Water is a recurring theme here, in case you didn’t know. It’s like that poem, “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink” because it’s killing you! Wait, that’s not the line….it is the line for Mysterious Camera Girl, as now she’s Mysteriously Drowned Mysterious Camera Girl. Okay, her character name is Oh Yu-jung. Too bad we don’t find out until after she’s dead. Good job, movie!

The death of some Mysterious Woman who sort of knows Min Ji-won is upsetting to Ji-won, as you can quite imagine. Especially when her mom starts acting strangely kind, and then at the movies Ji-won sees the Ghost Girl, who seems to be theater hopping or something. I hate it when Ghost Girls walk into movies twenty minutes from the end. One time during Galaxy Quest there were twenty-three Ghost Girls who wandered into the movie, all chatting on cell phones, giggling loudly, and murdering random teenage heartthrobs. It was a nightmare, they were all leaking rancid water all over the theater, I got some on my pants, some got in my popcorn, yuck city. Back from the derail, Ji-won starts to remember a few brief things from high school. Ji-won seemed to spend most of her time torturing a fellow classmate named Su-in, who just happens to be played by Nam Sang-mi! Excellent! This movie has reached full babe quotient. From the flashbacks Ji-won seems to be the evil bitch-queen of high school. It’s a total reversal of character from her normal personality so far. Amnesia should be given out like Ritalin, it seems to cure everything.

At Mysterious Camera Girl’s funeral, Eun-jung shows up to slap Ji-won and blame her for her sister’s death as well as Mysterious Camera Girl’s. Following this, we find out Korean yearbooks have the addresses and phone numbers of all the students in them, which is stalker-riffic! I can’t imagine the horrible goings on that would happen if that was tried here. Actually, I bet somewhere does that. Then they wonder why they get weird phone calls at 3am. So the yearbook allows Ji-won to track down Eun-jung, and Eun-jung explains a few things after yelling at Ji-won some more, but she let’s it known to her and to us that she doesn’t really know much about what’s going on.

Shin Mi-kyung is in the mental hospital. Shin Mi-kyung was the final high school friend from the group of four that isn’t dead besides Ji-won, and she’s played by Shin Yi. Instead of dating an ultra-fem boy, she’s gone loco and is deathly afraid of water, and water demons. Specifically, she’s afraid of Su-in returning to kill them all, and with the recent deaths of Mysterious Camera Girl and Eun-seo, she’s looking more and more right. Mi-kyung blames Ji-won for everything, and tries to kill her before she’s dragged away by hospital security. Ji-won starts freaking out, starts seeing the evil high school version of herself, and wondering what she did that caused the problem. Has a flashback dream of her telling Su-in that she’s not good enough to be her friend. Ji-won manages to track down Su-in’s mom, who tells Ji-won that she was her only friend.

Next we find out the male friend of Ji-won who was supposed to only know her after her accident knew her before, but that revelation is short-dwelled upon because Mi-kyung is killed by the Long Haired Wet Ghost Girl Su-in. Ji-won has had enough of this, so she and her guy friend go to where Su-in died. I guess she remembered enough at some point to have figured this out. They are at some park with a waterfall and lake, and now it’s FLASHBACK TIME!

Ji-won and her snobby friends are heading to the area, and we see Ji-won push Su-in into the water to be funny. But the other girls push Ji-won in as well. Ji-won cannot swim, so Su-in must try to save her. Ki-myung immediately has an asthma attack, and Mysterious Camera girl helps her get her meds, while Eun-seo just stares as Ji-won drowning with a creepy smile on her face. Su-in gets her foot stuck underwater, and Ji-won kicks away and barely gets to shore. FLASHBACK OVER! Ji-won jumps into the lake, and Su-in’s body is still there, 100% not decomposed. The police and Su-in’s mother are called, and we find out the body is preserved because of large amounts of arsenic in the water. Ji-won goes home, tells her mom she’s not going to leave the country because she’s taken care of everything she was running from, an all is right with the world.

Well, that was a weak ending… Why are they letting girls run around parks with arsenic laced water? They don’t even have a lame warning sign that says “Danger” or something.

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Wait, what’s that on the radio? Chubby Checker? That means….MEGATWIST!!!!! Don’t read any further if you don’t want it spoiled! I’m give the rating right now, then check below if you want to know how this turned from a lame movie to awesome.

Rated 8/10 (Angry Sister, Kim Ha-neul!, Ouija token, Kim Ha-neul!, red eye, Kim Ha-neul!, Smoking Mysterious Camera Girl, Nam Sang-mi!!! )


Here Be SPOILERS!!!!



Ji-won’s mom is really Ji-won’s ghost! Ji-won’s body currently has Su-in’s spirit in it! Ji-won wants her body back, and is still the mega-bitch! Su-in/Ji-won tries to kill herself to keep that from happening, but guy friend saves her. It all seems over, until we see Su-in’s mom is now possessed. Shocking!

So, the ghost that was called back in the beginning seems to have been Ji-won’s, while Su-in’s ghost seemed to have instantly entered Ji-won’s body when they both drowned at the lake, though we never really see Ji-won drown. The ending took me by surprise, as I thought it would have been a lamer twist where Su-in still comes to kill Ji-won. Nice to be pleasantly surprised. Now, if only these movies can abandoned the Ghost Girl with scary hair thing.

It was nice seeing Nam Sang-mi and Kim Ha-neul again, they should be forced to make thirty movies a year. I would probably watch a movie that just had them staring off into space for two hours.



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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!