Judge Dennis Prince heard voices telling him this film was much better than its cheesy 8 Films to Die For wrapper.
Is it voices, ghosts, or deep psychoses that haunt young Ga-In. Death surrounds her. Is she next or is her situation much more dire than that?
A Korean "mainstream" horror film from director Ki-Hwan Oh, Voices is a generally reliable excursion into the realm of paranoid schizophrenia, accompanied by liberal bloodshed. High schooler Kim Ga-In seems happy and well adjusted and enjoys the companionship of her bubbly friend and the warmth of a relationship with her handsome pre-med boyfriend. All seems magical as she attends a family wedding until her own aunt, the bride to be, falls from a high ledge. Though she's expected to recover, Ga-In's aunt is viciously murdered in her hospital bed by another aunt. Now Ga-In is haunted by strange and disturbing dreams where a ghoulish creature warns of more murders to come all the while a brooding boy at her school also warns her to watch her way.
"Don't trust anyone—your family, your friends, not even yourself."
Ga-In now wonders about a supposed family curse that has her parents noticeably perturbed and the girl soon finds others ready to kill her as if she were the cause of it all. Somehow she survives the attacks from her unexpected would-be assailants, they who die in the course of their affronts. How long can Ga-In escape death and why is all of this bloodshed occurring around her?
Voices (original Korean title: Du saram-yida) isn't particularly innovative though it is reasonably entertaining as a psychological thriller. The cast is an attractive bunch, seemingly assembled to provide a bit of visual appeal and export potential. Apparently, it succeeded in that it was picked to join seven other unknown horror films as part of 2009's collection of "After Dark Horrorfest III—8 Films to Die For." As far as "horrorfest" quality goes—with the expectation it will be ripe with wanton gore and gratuitous gut-letting—Voices doesn't fit the bill. Sure, it has plenty of blood and some graphic but not horribly gruesome stabbings and such, but it doesn't live up to the branding that promises unbridled maiming and mutilation splashing across the screen. If graded on that particular curve, Voices could only muster a C+.
Now, take the picture out of the Horrorfest context and you'll find this to be a moderately satisfying thriller that, although rather prone to stray within its conceptual fabric, still delivers some sanguine entertainment. The story follows a curious arc that genuinely piques our interest and challenges us to unravel its mystery. Unfortunately, there appear to be some cultural tenets that might be lost on American viewers and, therefore, could undermine the true starkness of the horror at hand. Some of what goes on seems to go unresolved by the film's end and we struggle to determine what (and who) is real when all is said and done. Nevertheless, despite some uneven acting, Voices is still a worthwhile jaunt into the darkness of the human psyche.
Available as one of the "8 Films to Die For" on DVD, Lions Gate presents Voices in a clean and crisp transfer framed at a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The image is practically unblemished and colors and details are well rendered. The palette is a bit muted but that appears the result of the original production design and not the fault of the transfer itself. The audio is offered in a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix that, while largely contained to the front channels, manages to surprise from time to time with a well-placed rear channel effect. The low end never seems to come into play but, given the sort of drama unfolding on the screen, it's not really needed during a viewing of Voices. The dialog is properly presented in the film's original Korean language but English (and Spanish) subtitles are included so you can follow along. The only extras are some dispensable webisodes (a full 57 minutes!) of Miss Horrorfest Webisodes, easily accessible at the Horrorfest website.
Voices isn't well suited to the Horrorfest brand and will likely miss
its proper audience. Gore fans will claim it's not gory enough, while
suspense/thriller fans will probably never give it a look. Pity.
Give us your feedback!
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2009 Dennis Prince; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.