Genius Products // 2005 // 103 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 24th, 2008
Dare to wear.
What to get the sister that has everything? How about a malicious, sentient hair-piece?
Jihyun and Soo-hyun are sisters, each physically damaged. Jihyun lost her voice in a horrible car accident and Soo-hyun has been ravaged by an illness that has drained the color from her face and left her without hair. To cheer her up, Jihyun springs for a wig.
Unbeknownst to both sisters, however, that wig is riddled with the evilness and though it appears to grant some weird beautifying mojo on the wearer, extended scalp exposure leads to bloodshed and violence. As Soo-hyun is dragged deeper and deeper into the dismal abyss of debauchery and betrayal thanks to the wig, Jihyun will be forced to step up and reclaim her sister.
I've seen a lot of horror plot devices in my day, but this is a first -- a killer coiffure. On the face of it, I admit, it sounds pretty corny, and I wasn't on board for a good while. But director Won Shin-Yeon plays it straight throughout and keeps the tone grim and unfunny and it works surprisingly well. You ask me, the only way a slasher wig movie succeeds is if the conceit it played for laughs, but that's far from the atmosphere created here. Deliberate, dark and deadly serious The Wig moves at a slow pace, building up the malice of the wig and its sinister effects gradually, culminating in a truly whacked finale.
In fact, the pacing is so methodical it might prove too much to bear, especially if you're used to the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am school of horror. The shocks do not come fast and furious, popping up when you least expect them, often in the middle of a quiet, drawn-out sequence, though this arguably makes them more effective. For example, the sisters are cruising in their car and Soo-hyun is looking into a bud and all of a sudden a HORRIFYING VISION OF A DEAD GIRL COVERED IN BLOODY HAIR!!! And then it's back to the slow burn.
There are a handful of jump scares like this, and the set-ups are executed with skill. Plus, they're pretty f -- -- -- up in their own right, with most involving hair in some fashion. And talk about f -- -- -- up, that climax is a mind-bender, coming out of nowhere, kicking out a plot twist that I didn't see coming at all. Let's just say that the wig turns out to have some true transformative powers.
While I enjoyed the film and got wrapped up in the suspense, I readily admit this kind of horror isn't for anyone. This thing does move slowly and if the scares are too spread apart for your taste, I'm pretty sure you'll tune out. It was close, but I just barely hung in there, mainly because the idea of a haunted wig was so bizarre I was compelled to watch how the thing played out. I guess the moral is the kick you'll get out of The Wig is directly proportional to how cool and weird you think the idea of an evil toupee is.
The disc offers a nice amount of bang for your buck. The 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a winner, clean from start to finish, supplemented by a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix (Korean, with English subtitles). Three decent behind-the-scenes featurettes make up the extras.
For fans of J-horror and odd plot devices, The Wig delivers enough disturbing visuals and off-putting themes to earn a look.
Not guilty. Insert hair pun.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Korean)
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated