What would happen if the little boy in The Sixth Sense, who has this gift of seeing and ultimately interacting with ghosts, was to grow up? It's probably something that Son Ye Jin's character of Yeo-Ri would have experienced, being left alone and ostracized by many because of this ability that will spook just about anyone. It's little wonder why this Korean beauty was made to look doom, gloom and glum in the first half of the film, being as miserable as can be because she has no friends, and family has shun her, preferring to live a life of safety thousands of miles away.
Written and directed by Hwang In-Ho, who was responsible for one of my favourite films then in Two Faces of My Girlfriend, his latest film takes the romantic comedy genre and fuses it with a very effective horror element, though at times making it seem like watching a film with two separate, schizophrenic identities rolled into one. It's a good thing that both parts are equally strong, with the romantic comedy element being very much dripped in saccharine sweetness, and the horror element dipping into the bag of tricks with the usual jump cuts to scare, coupled with realistic, scary makeup and costumes that will make you flinch in your seat and turn your gaze away from the screen.
The strength of the film is in its story, throwing us into the deep end with magician Jo-Goo (Lee Min-Ki) being mesmerized by a strangely glum looking lass Yeo-Ri, having her demeanour inspire a hugely successful horror box illusion perfected to bring in the dough. Recruiting her for his magic company, the troupe never really got any opportunity to get her to join in their post-work drinking session, only because she harbours a secret that she intends to keep under wraps, one that involves periodic visits by spirits from the netherworld seeking her help in their unfinished business, and a prolonged spooking by a mysterious long haired ghoul whose identity intertwines closely with Yeo-Ri's tragic past, intricately linked with her supernatural ability.
In-Ho creates likable leading characters in both Jo-Goo and Yeo-Ri as the inevitable lovebirds who have to overcome obstacles placed in their path toward a relationship. After all, the main ghoul at play is adamant in making Yeo-Ri's life as miserable as possible. You'll soon find yourself rooting for the two to get together, and In-Ho's story provides spectrum for the usual boy-meets-girl and the follow up scenarios to happen. The romanticism here extends also toward Yeo-Ri's seeking of help from pals over the phone as they serve as her only friends who do keep their arms length for a period. And who better to play Yeo-Ri than the Son Ye-Jin, sharing great chemistry opposite Lee Min-Ki as they battle the crazy odds thrown at their characters.
And as mentioned, this film is pretty much strong in its horror aspects, while relying on the usual jump cuts, loud sound scapes, creepy atmosphere and make up. In-Ho managed to come up with a strong storyline related to the hauntings experienced by the characters, and managed to keep audiences in suspense before all gets revealed in due course. Perhaps the end credits, which contained a sustained scene involving the primary ghoul, felt a little bit out of place for its slapstick nature. But if you can deal with minor inconsistencies involving who can see which ghoul, and are looking for a film that's apt as a date movie, then you may be bold enough to give this a go.