Dead Friend (Ryeong)


Reviewed by: sukting

July 06, 2008

Rating: two-point-five

How long
1.5 hour

Foreword
It is a horror film set in a girls high school.It starred Kim Ha Neul as Min Ji-won, Nam Sang Mi as Su-in, Jeon Hye Bin as Eun-seo and Lee Yun Ji as Eun-jing. Ryu Jin also stars as Ji-won’s boyfriend, Min-woo. How will it turn out?

Story
Three friends from the same high school are conducting a séance with a bunshinsaba - a traditional South Korean ouija board. As the spirits are called by Eun-jung (Lee Yun-ji), the planchette of the bunshinsaba starts jumping. At the same time, Min Ji-won (Kim Ha-neul), another friend sleeping in the next room, wakes up screaming.

When Ji-won comes out, she has a right royal barney with Eun-jung about the séance, and Eun-jung jokingly calls for the ghost they conjured with the séance to kill Ji-won off - and says that since they didn't send the ghost back, it'll be after all their blood. Ever since that fateful night, she's had amnesia - presumably caused by shock.

A classmate, Su-in is missing mysteriously a year ago and her mother, Mrs Han pins for her. It is strange that the other girls do not reveal her whereabouts. After a visit to her doctor, Ji-won finds out that her brain waves have stabilized. There is a good chance she may get her memory back. She decides to leave college, Mrs Min and go overseas. Little snippets of her memory start to come back in her dreams - and they're almost always tainted by some frightening figure she can't place.

They are all connected to water, whether in the dream itself or by the medium of a knocked-over glass of drinking water next to the bed. But soon enough, all begin to happen to her in reality as well - echoes of her dreams, the ghosts of her forgotten past invading her waking life.

Just at this time, Ji-won gets a blast from the past: Yu-jung, one of the three friends who conducted the seance years before, comes to find her after she saw her in a dream. Eun-seo also dies after telling Ji-won she has seen something bizarre. Eun-seo is sent to the asylum and she insists of seeing a ghost at night. She is tied to her hospital bed and dies of drowning. How can this be possible?

It's not long before Yu-jung also has a terrifying supernatural experience related to Ji-won - and realises that the ghost they called up years before indeed really did never get sent back. Now all of her friends who conducted the seance with her die under mysterious circumstances of drowning. But what is the identity of this ghost, how is it linked to her own forgotten past, and can Ji-won find out how to save herself?

Min-woo is the girls’ classmate and gets into the same university as the girls after his national service. Min-woo initally wants to woo Ji-won but is afraid that it will trigger her sad memories. Although he has no idea what really happens then, he deduces that she must be traumatised by the event. He only strikes out to be her close friend first. Still, he tries to seek a cure for her over the internet.

One day, Ji-won goes swimming and sees Min-woo by the side of the pool. She is about to move to him when someone holds her underwater and she nearly drowns. Luckily she holds on to the lane support to save herself. She recalls how nasty she is to Su-in then.

Su-in is talented in art but her mother is a poor fishmonger. She has hoped to be like Ji-won who comes from a rich family. Ji-won is very nasty to her – saying that she can never replace her. Min-woo masters courage to bring her to the granite quarry. This is where the girls come the last time to return without Su-in. They have disallowed her to tell Mrs Han that they are coming here to plan to harm her.

Ji-won recalls everything. She is vicious to push Su-in into the quarry, citing that she should know how to swim. Su-in does know how to swim but Ji-won doesn’t when Eun-Jung pushes her into the quarry too, shouting happy birthday to her. To save Ji-won, Su-in pushes Ji-won up but she ends up being trapped to the bottom of the quarry by rocks.

Ji-won jumps into the quarry to discover Su-in’s body below. Min-woo manages to bring a hysterical Ji-won up and notifies the police. They retrieve Su-in’s body and Mrs Han recognises it to burst into tears. The body doesn’t decompose because of the chemicals in the water. Ji-won feels very sorry over it and consoles her. Min-woo is relieved that everything is over so Ji-won can start all over again.

Ji-won tells Mrs Min that she can now leave Korea with a calm mind. To her dismay, Mrs Min starts to scold her to claim that it hasn’t ended. Ji-won stinks of the fish smell and must be away from her. Mrs Min snaps that she can never replace her – she actually has Ji-won’s soul. So it is Su-in who is now in Ji-won’s body.

Su-in now realises why she doesn’t inherit Ji-won’s habit but resembles herself instead to love biting fingernails. It is not explained why she loses her memory and why their souls are swopped during the struggle under water. Now Ji-won wants payback time. She hates her classmates for ignoring her when she is in the water then so she seeks revenge on them. Ji-won slashes her wrist to end her agony but Mrs Min falls to the floor instead.

Luckily Min-woo senses something amiss and has been trailing behind Ji-won all along. He sends both to hospital on time. Su-in wakes up while Mrs Min is in a coma. Su-in can only observe Mrs Han secretly and later disappear in the crowd.

Conclusion

How young the cast looked 4 years ago! They were convincing as high school pupils indeed. But it also shows how raw their acting was then. Almost all are expressionless with limited range. The biggest disappointment comes from Ha Neul.

Ha Neul isn’t as vicious as supposed to be. The scene where Ji-won pushes Su-in into the quarry – it’s like she is only giving a slight push and her expression is flat! She should learn from Yun-ji who is really good! She gives a hard push and the unfeeling way she watches Ji-won panicking in water is simply chilling in contrast!

Sang Mi has very little screen time but she is successful in looking timid and fearful in front of her classmates. Ryu Jin’s appearance is only as a male vase who contributes little to the development. His role is only to save Ji-won from danger. It also depicts school bullying due to social status – but people have chosen to ignore this serious issue. The movie fails to explore it further.

The movie is supposedly to be spooky but I can hardly feel the excitement. When the ghost appears, it is only seen with long hair covering the face – the same as the Japanese Ji-won. How can this be scary? I even fell asleep midway when watching it on television. It is only passable. Please only watch it if you are really bored with nothing to do.



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