In the last two months I managed a personal all time blogging streak of 51 days in a row! Unfortunately, I was too tired to write anything this past Wednesday, and then that turned into four days off. Never mind; I can just start a new theme for the new month that starts soon.
In England, there is a tradition of telling ghost stories at Christmas especially in shot TV films based on M.R. James stories. Not only am I an avid watcher of British TV, but it doesn’t take any provocation at all to get me to watch a ghost story. It’s too bad I don’t have a better one for you today. My intention is to write about a movie that is new-to-me on half the days, and an old favorite the rest. These will not all be horror films, or even spooky, but they will all contain at least one ghost.
If you have been a fan of horror movies for the last 20 odd years, you will know that many of the ghost stories made in South Korea are excellent. The Whispering is an exception. We first see an unexplained death scene in a funhouse, and then we cut to a group of students who are stressed out about their final exams. Specifically this fear of doing badly in school is the theme of so many Korean movies that you would be forgiven if you, like me, didn’t realize The Whispering was going to be a nonsense movie. It starts out promising with a main character who bombed her exams and is seeing visions of a ghost in her dreams.
But then the movie turns into a bunch of rowdy but not fleshed out characters going on a trip, the protagonist included. Their personalities are: the guy who wants to be a civil servant and has access to a van, the obnoxious one who has a web show, the pretty girl, the pretty guy, the guy who eats, and the protagonist, who studies too much and is haunted. The GPS leads them to a haunted abandoned amusement park. This may or not be the one from the prologue. The guy with the web show decides they should go in and live stream instead of continuing on to the seaside where they have reservations. He also enlists them all to pretend to be scared for the viewers, but of course that turns out not to be necessary.
But alas! The obnoxious guy apparently knew all along that the park was owned by a guy who went nuts when he lost his ass in a recession in the 90s, but even before that the owner intended for the funhouse to be full of real ghosts. Then he killed his wife and daughter and himself to make sure it was haunted. The ghosts show up like the ones in 13 Ghosts, somewhat gruesome and all different, even changing character themselves. But it’s too dark to see much of what is going on, and you won’t care at all anyway as the basically anonymous and naive friends are killed one by one in ways you can’t quite understand. The fact that the pretty girl has one recurring trait, she is super assertive with adults, goes nowhere, and you never find out how the main character’s friend died or why she’s haunting her. For about a fourth of the movie, the main character doesn’t know she’s talking to ghosts in the funhouse, which is particularly idiotic considering she’s been seeing one since her friend died and should be aware. Also, it is obvious to the viewer that they’re ghosts, so there’s no suspense or twist.
The worst part, I think, is that the film has the word Whispering in the title to evoke the far superior Whispering Corridors series, which actually is about people who didn’t do well in school being haunted by guilt and regret and ghosts, and not some William Castle style shitshow. The only lesson here is one that we already should have learned by now, which is that live streamers tend to fake their videos and exploit their friends for views and donations. Ironically, as I type this my son is screaming in the next room on a video he’s streaming, but at least he’s playing a Minecraft map and not leading someone into a funhouse to have their eyeballs ripped out.
I believe I’ve mentioned that I avoid in real life funhouses because I am easily startled; well, there is no danger of being startled when you’re watching this boring, meandering movie on Prime. I hate to give anything such a bad review, especially at the start of a new theme, but The Whispering is what I watched today, it’s what I have to work with, and I have to tell the truth.
The only question is, should I review a better Korean ghost story tomorrow, or go with a completely different country and ghost idiom? If you’re reading this, let me know in the comments.