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‘Apartment’ Seems Eerily Familiar

2006/07/06 | 416 views | Permalink | Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

In recent years, local horror film directors have struggled to break free from conventional formulas, seeking fear factors in ordinary and familiar places and people.

Mysterious beings appear in an ordinary high schools instead of typical haunted houses, and modern daily items such as mobiles and computers are used as deadly objects possessed by a ghost.

Such efforts continue in new horror film "Apartment" ("A.P.T"), which transforms the modern residential space into the most dreadful place, and takes a critical look at individuals in the aviary-like place.

But new attempts aside, the film is a bit disappointing as it reveals its weakness after the first half, losing originality and depending on cliches during crucial scary moments.

Directed by Ahn Byeong-ki and starring actress Ko So-young, the film revolves around Se-jin (played by Ko), a single successful woman living alone in an apartment.

Her neighbors start to die one by one, and she happens to find out that people are mysteriously killed every night, always at 9:56 p.m., when the light goes off in the apartment complex building opposite her own.

She's never really paid attention to her neighbors, let alone people living in an adjacent apartment, but now she has an urge to save them from their seemingly imminent deaths.

Although no one listens to her, she gets to learn about a secret her neighbors share about a paralyzed girl in the apartment who they take care of.

As the director is well known for hit horror films including "Nightmare" (2000), Phone (2002) and "Bunshinsaba" (2004), the film is stylishly rendered and has many enjoyable yet scary moments adapted from a popular cartoon that was serialized on the Internet.

Fear factors are developed and linked with social issues typically affecting apartments in big cities.

But after the first half, as it uses too much of the usual noisy sounds and sudden appearances of ghosts, so familiar to Japanese horror film enthusiasts of films like the "Ring" series, the falls into the category of "B-movies" that you have seen before.

But the most crucial blow to the film is in the end of the film when the secrets of the apartment are revealed through many flashbacks and dialogues, leaving little room for audiences to reason and think.

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