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'Evil Twin': Return of Korean Horror on Screen

2007/05/17 Source

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

"Evil Twin" heads the series of scary movies due this summer, giving audiences a whiff of nostalgia as it signals the return of quintessential Korean ghost stories in cinema.

Retaliation, reconciliation and redemption are the three classic formulas of the movie, which features Korea's iconic specter of the white-robed, long black-haired vengeful virgin back from the dead.

A peaceful Joseon village is disturbed by the sudden awakening of So-yeon (Park Shin-hye), a young lady who has been in a coma after surviving a drowning accident 10 years before.

But So-yeon's identical twin sister Hyo-jin, who also fell into the lake, was not so fortunate. Unable to rest in peace, Hyo-jin returns as a phantom and a series of unnatural deaths ensues.

The suspense factor of "Evil Twin" is simple. Eerie weeping sounds presage the appearance of the "han" or grudge-ridden ghost, who takes one victim after another.

The film unrolls with several unexpected spooks here and there, but is painfully PG-12 -with even a few unintended comical moments. As Hyo-jin looms over her second prey, she seems more like a costume-clad ghost from a haunted house in a carnival than a frightful spirit.

But unlike American or Japanese horror films such as "The Ring", where the ghost is a source of evil that the hero must fight off, "Evil Twin" portrays reconciliation between the living and the dead.

Horror movies in the traditional Korean style abounded when the domestic film industry peaked in the 1960s, but disappeared in the 1980s. Then, starting in the mid-1990s, modern scary movies such as the "Whispering Corridors" took firm ground as prime summer season entertainment.

"Evil Twin" signals the rebirth of The Classic genre. Its original title is synonymous with a classic TV series, the Korean equivalent of the American "Twilight Zone". These tall tales aim not only to give you chills but a moral message.

Setting the fear factor aside, the film focuses more on the drama based on shamanistic values that are at the heart of Korean culture.

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