Spend this weekend watching a Korean horror classic. Mischievous schoolgirls, devious sisters, and mysterious houses in the woods abound in these films. Netflix has been working to expand its Asian cinema selection, which is good news for cinephiles.
As a bonus: you won't have to spend this weekend paying for your entertainment$$. While it does come at a monthly subscription rate, you can get Netflix for free as a trial anyway and decide later whether you want to pay to continue the service.
Here are a few of the Korean horror classics currently highlighted on Netflix:
Whispering Corridors 5: "A Blood Pledge" (2009, NR)
The fifth and currently final installment in the notoriously dark Whispering Corridors series takes place at the same all-girls' high school as the first four horror stories. In this story, four schoolgirls agree on a suicide pledge. However, only one of the schoolgirls, Eon-Joo, actually makes the jump. It turns out that each girl had a secret reason to want to kill herself, and that Eon-Joo is now back from the grave to punish them for not following through on the pact. Expect grisly jump scares and plenty of gore, along with the slow-burning mystery plot the Whispering Corridors series is known for.
"A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003, NR)
"A Tale of Two Sisters", also known by its Korean name Jangwha, Hongryeon or Rose Flower, Red Lotus, is the highest-grossing Korean horror film to date. Winner of Best Picture at the 2004 Fantasporto film festival, this film tells the story of what happens after sisters Su-Mi and Su-Yeon begin seeing a ghostly female figure in the home that they share with their father and stepmother. As the story continues, it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems. Are the sisters dead, or alive? Is their stepmother truly present, or are they remembering the past? What is the identity of the ghost woman, and what is she trying to tell them?
According to New York Times reviewer Dana Stevens, "A Tale of Two Sisters" is "sadistically suspenseful" and "inspires a fear so overwhelming it borders on the metaphysical". Watch this movie if you want a chilling, exceptionally-well-done evening of horror.
"Hansel and Gretel" (2007, NR)
This story puts a twist on the famous fairy tale. After a fight with his pregnant girlfriend, Eun-Soo crashes his car in the woods and, when he awakes, meets Young-Hee. This mysterious young girl takes Eun-Soo back to her home and introduces him to her adoptive parents and siblings. However, not all is as it seems. Why do people turn into oak trees and china dolls? What was in the dinner that the family served, and how does it relate to Young-Hee's missing father? Who is Deacon Byun, and why has he kept these children captive for so long? Eun-Soo finds he cannot escape the mysterious house in the woods until he solves the disturbing, horrific mystery.
"Thirst" (2009, R)
Thirst is only film on this list to receive an R rating rather than the even gorier NR. Catholic priest Sang-Hyun receives a blood transfusion as part of an experimental medical treatment. He soon discovers that the blood has turned him into a vampire. Sang-Hyun's faith puts him at the center of a difficult struggle: does he kill to stay alive, or can he avoid taking human life for as long as possible? He also soon falls in love with a female vampire, Tae-Ju, who is a much more merciless killer than he is. Sang-Hyun must battle both interior and exterior demons to survive his new life as a vampire, and must soon make the hardest of all choices.
Thirst won the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and is an excellent horror film for people who prefer a milder horror experience. Enjoy "Thirst" this weekend, along with these other Korean horror classics.
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