…for when Western ones just won’t cut it.
Halloween may be over, and I may have already talked about my love for this holiday here, but the chill in the air hasn’t abated yet.
(On that note, I hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!)
On to the horror!
1. Alone (2007)
Alone is the story of Pim, who was born a conjoined twin. She and her sister, Ploy, were eventually separated, but Ploy dies during the operation. Pim is burdened by guilt, thinking that Ploy wouldn’t have died if she hadn’t demanded the operation. She later moves to Korea with her boyfriend, Wee, but they have to return to Bangkok when they receive the news that Pim’s mother has suffered a stroke. Back in their old house, Pim is seemingly haunted by the ghost of her twin.
My take: It’s been almost ten years since I first saw this movie, and the twist at the end gets me every single time.
2. The Eye (2002)
From: Hong Kong
Mun is a blind classical violinist who undergoes an eye cornea transplant. At first, she’s happy to have her sight restored, but then she starts seeing mysterious figures that foretell death and destruction. She decides to travel to Thailand to find Ling, the eye donor, who had the ability to foresee disaster.
My take: Beautiful cinematography and an excellent cast, not to mention an interesting, original story. DO NOT watch the remake with Jessica Alba, it sucks balls.
3. Dark Water (2002)
In Dark Water, Yoshimi, a divorcee, moves to a rundown apartment with her daughter, Ikuko. She enrolls Ikuko in school, and gets a job as a proofreader. However, the ceiling of their apartment has a leak, which gets worse each day. Yoshimi attempts to visit the apartment above them, presumably the source of the leak, only to find it locked. A series of ghostly happenings, as well as the discovery that, a year ago, a little girl named Mitsuko went missing, leads Yoshimi to believe that the apartment is haunted and that her daughter’s life is in danger.
My take: Ever notice how almost always, an Asian horror story has some element of sadness or heartache to it? Dark Water is no different. The ending is so bittersweet, it made me bawl. Also, unlike The Eye, this movie’s Hollywood remake was also pretty good.
4. I Saw the Devil (2010)
This is a psychological horror-thriller kind of movie which, contrary to its title, doesn’t actually involve any supernatural entities. The movie revolves around Kim Soo-hyun, an agent of the National Intelligence Service. He hunts down Jang Kyung-chul, who brutally murdered Soo-hyun’s fiancee as well as several others. During his hunt, Soo-hyun must fight not to descend into the same inhuman madness that grips the murderous Kyung-chul.
My take: Aside from being a really good horror movie overall, I Saw the Devil also prompts some thinking about the nature of man and the dark side lurking in all of us.
5. Sigaw (2004)
(Of course I wasn’t going to do a list like this without including something from the motherland!)
Marvin is a newly independent yuppie, savoring living on his own for the first time in an old apartment building. The place is perfect, except for the fact that his next-door neighbor, Bert, is to be an abuse husband who constantly beats his wife, Anna. Lara, the couple’s daughter, often seeks refuge in the apartment of another tenant, Jude. Marvin and his girlfriend Pinky discover that there’s more to Bert, Anna, Lara, and Jude than meets the eye, and must confront the evil that dwells in their building.
My take: A classic haunted house movie. Iza Calzado and Angel Locsin are absolutely great as Anna and Pinky, respectively. Apparently it’s been remade in the US as The Echo (which I have never seen, so I can’t attest as to its quality), but please do watch the original instead.
6. Carved (2007)
Carved is based on the Japanese urban legend of Kuchisake-onna, or “slit-mouthed woman”. Kuchisake-onna is a woman who goes around at night wearing a white surgical mask and asks people she meets if she’s pretty. If they answer yes, she’ll take off her mask, show that the corners of her mouth are cut from ear to ear, and ask, “How about now?” before killing them. If they answer no, she’ll kill them anyway. Supposedly the best way to escape is to tell her that she’s average, and you can run away while she’s confused.
My take: The story’s pretty fucked up, not gonna lie. Also, it’s kind of hard to follow. However, please do. It’s Japanese horror at it’s finest, stark, intense, brutal, and unsettling.
7. Sukob (1984)
Sandy is an overseas worker coming home to the Philippines to get married. After the wedding, people start dying, and it seems as though Sandy’s wedding has been cursed. According to Philippine superstition, you must postpone a wedding if an immediate family member also gets married within the same year, otherwise both weddings are cursed. Unbeknownst to Sandy, she has a half-sister, Diane, who got married on the same day. Sandy and Diane race to break the curse before it claims its final victim.
My take: As a rule I generally hate Kris Aquino’s horror movies, but this one was just so good. It’s got classic jump scares and eerie cinematography, as well as a storyline that’s original and unique.
8. Shutter (2004)
Shutter revolves mostly around the concept of ghost photography. Tun, a photographer, and Jane, his girlfriend, begin discovering white shadows in the photos they take. Their investigations lead to a girl named Natre, who attended college with Tun, and who he briefly dated. It turns out Natre committed suicide after Tun broke up with her, and her mother couldn’t bear to have her body cremated. They finally convince Natre’s mother to give her a proper burial, and they think the hauntings are over. But the horror is just beginning for Jane, thanks to a secret from Tun’s past.
My take: ALL THE TRIGGER WARNINGS, EVER. This movie deals with some pretty harsh and serious stuff, up to and including sexual assault. If, however, you can stomach that kind of thing, this movie is just great, and the twist ending was totally unexpected.
9. Pulse (2001)
Focusing on ghosts invading the world of the living through the Internet, Pulse is actually two parallel storylines which eventually intersect.
My take: I can’t really describe this movie without giving away the plot, but I really, really, really recommend you watch this. Unnerving and so very, very creepy, Pulse will totally leave you on the edge of your seat. I swear, you will die of anticipation. It’s also been called one of the top horror movies of all time.
10. Wishing Stairs (2003)
Jin-sung and So-hee are best friends studying at a ballet academy whose relationship turns sour when they find themselves competing for a single spot in a Russian ballet school. Jin-sung then learns of an old legend that if a person climbs up the steps leading to the school’s dormitory and counts twenty-nine steps instead of the twenty-eight that are there, a fox spirit will grant them a wish. Jin-sung does find the twenty-ninth stair and wishes that she would win the coveted spot in the ballet school, but soon learns that wishing comes at a steep price.
My take: There’s just something about horror movies that feature ballerinas, isn’t there? Whatever it is, this movie has it. It’s a hauntingly beautiful movie that you’ll love not just for the horror, but for the graceful and elegant dancing.