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A veteran female detective, So-Young, and her rookie assistant are investigating a recent series of bizarre murders. All of the victims seem to have died due to an acid unleashed inside of their bodies. As the two detectives discover more about their case, they soon start to realize that the recent serial killings may have something to do with a mysterious death that occurred ten years ago in a salt house. Soon, So-Young becomes plagued by nightmares in which the dead girl appears. And the killings continue.
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Top Customer Reviews
One thing that makes Arang different from most modern Asian horror is the characterization on display in the story, particularly that of the female lead detective (Song Yun-ah). An experience in her past continues to haunt her (and -- on at least one occasion -- gets her into some trouble), and those feelings are brought to her emotional forefront during her investigation of an unusual series of murders. The victims are all healthy young men who share a disconcerting cause of death -- a buildup of prussic acid inside their bodies (with no evidence that it was ingested through the mouth). We, of course, get to see these murders as they happen, and they all involve the inexplicable appearance of a vengeful young ghost of the Sadako (Ringu girl) variety.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The story centers around female detective So Young [Song Yoon Ah] who seems to be a sort of tortured soul, always experiencing nightmares and apparently haunted by a tragedy in her past. She is teamed up with a rookie Hyun Gi [Lee Dong Wook] on a murder case where the victim is found burned to death though the cause of death is found to be asphyxiation. Later a series of similar murders has the detectives struggling to put the clues together in search of a serial killer. The clues point to a connection with a murder case that occurred many years ago.
What ultimately lifts this movie for me is not really the supernatural aspect [which is quite typical in comparison to other Asian horror flicks], but the well-crafted storyline with its twists and turns. You don't really see the connections until the ending and that really made me appreciate the movie even more. Though there are a few plotholes, all in all the story did seem to flow seamlessly and the lead actors do a pretty credible job of keeping the suspense alive throughout the film.
If you have been watching way too many Asian horror flicks, then you will not find anything new or exciting with thr supernatural part of this movie, but if you like to see something new with the detective story within a horror story, then this is worth checking out.
The detective in question is So-Young Min, who is just coming off a suspension for beating up a man accused of sexual assault...We'll learn later about the dark secret that she hides and the reason for her hatred of sexual predators. She is saddled with a new partner, a rookie to the violent crimes unit who transferred over from forensics. He's over eager but is willing to learn from the experienced So-young Min. The pair are soon investigating a series of brutal murders of a group of friends who were involved in a murder nine years earlier. A young man was killed and shortly after, his girlfriend Kim Min Jeong goes missing. The men involved begin seeing apparitions of a hideous, pale female with blood dripping from her eyes like tears.
They each receive e-mails that plays a video showing them the site of the Salt storehouse where the murder took place nine years earlier. Soon the detectives are frantically scrambling to unlock the secrets of the past and to save the surviving partners. But Arang is a film loaded with sudden twists and secrets and what seems to be a pedestrian ghost story takes a turn for the clever and gives viewers much more.
The apparitions are the typical we've seen in many recent Asian horror films...they are seen as cars pass and elevators descend, or in the lens of a camera but quickly disappear. Still, the director Sang-hoon Ahn does a marvelous job building up the suspense throughout the film. Even when you know what's about to happen you still end up jumping in your seat when the ghost makes her appearance.
What sets Arang apart from some of the films I've mentioned is the performances of the actors? This film isn't driven by just scares and special effects but also by great performances, particularly by Yun-ah Song as Detective So-Young Min. She is intelligent, strong, beautiful, intuitive, yet also caring and vulnerable. Her depth of character was one that is rare amongst female roles in horror films. Arang is a well done chiller that works as both a strong horror and murder mystery that's loaded with surprises and fine acting.
The DVD is well stacked with features including commentary by director and cast, a making-of documentary, deleted scenes, interviews with the cast, interview with the musical director, and theatrical trailer. The film is in anamorphic widescreen and is in Korean with English and Spanish subtitles.
REVIEWED BY TIM JANSON
One thing that makes Arang different from most modern Asian horror is the characterization on display in the story, particularly that of the female lead detective (Song Yun-ah). An experience in her past continues to haunt her (and - on at least one occasion - gets her into some trouble), and those feelings are brought to her emotional forefront during her investigation of an unusual series of murders. The victims are all healthy young men who share a disconcerting cause of death - a buildup of prussic acid inside their bodies (with no evidence that it was ingested through the mouth). We, of course, get to see these murders as they happen, and they all involve the inexplicable appearance of a vengeful young ghost of the Sadako (Ringu girl) variety. The only obvious link between the victims is the fact that, immediately prior to their deaths, they had all visited a web site featuring a certain old Salt Village. The detective and her green new partner, who left forensics to work on the homicide team, soon determine that a murder took place at that location nine years earlier, and that unsolved murder is somehow the catalyst for the string of recent murders. The lead detective takes the investigation quite personally, to the point that she wakes up each morning to nightmares offering her further insights into the case. Some reviewers have felt that the middle section of the film is too boring, as it follows the progress of the investigation rather than serving up more spooky images of the dead young ghost. I didn't really feel that way myself; in fact, I thought it made the film a bit more interesting.
The one major flaw of the film is the fact that several parts of the story make absolutely no sense. We all know Asian horror films can be pretty complicated, convoluted things, but the gaps in this particular story are far more than the result of the viewer "missing" something along the way - nor are they little things that don't matter all that much. One breakthrough in the investigation comes about in the most ridiculous of ways. The only thing stranger than the detective knowing where to find an important clue is the question of what that clue was doing there in the first place. There is no attempt whatsoever to explain this, either. That alone is at least a one-star deduction in my rating. Perhaps not surprisingly, the ending isn't all cut and dried, either. I don't really have a problem with this type of "conclusive ambiguity" (if I may coin a term), but I do expect someone to explain important details to me as the story moves along.
Despite some very real problems with the story and the fact that the film does little more than rehash a majority of the biggest clichés in modern Asian horror, I still find it hard not to enjoy a film with such a powerfully dark atmosphere. If you're new to Asian horror, I wouldn't recommend starting your journey with this particular film, but it's definitely worth seeing by those who are already huge fans of the genre.
The acting is top notch and it does what all Asian cinema tries to do...present the same old-stroy line with a twist. When they succeed it is a homerun. And this one is still traveling out of the park.
No telling of the plot, try other reviews for that. Just get it. I saw the prices. It is a bargain.
The downside of Arang, the first feature-length offering from Blind director Sang-hoon Ahn, is that it treads no new ground at all; it takes a common Korean mythological figure (if you google Arang, you'll come up with many versions of the story; even Wikipedia has an entry on the Arang story), weds it with a detective story, and comes up with, well, every Asian supernatural mystery that's been made since the mid-nineties. The upside of Arang is that it separates itself from the pack with some of the finest cinematography you'll see outside a Kiyoshi Kurosawa film, and even were the film not all that hot (and it is a well-made enough film even without the incredible photography) it would be worth seeing for that reason alone.
Plot: So-young (Secret's Yun-ah Song) and her brand-new partner Hyun-ki (The Recipe's Dong-wook Lee) are assigned to the case of a murdered schoolgirl in a backwater coastal village; it doesn't take them long to discover that this case is related to a murder a decade earlier--that of Hyun-ki's first girlfriend, Min-jeung (Thirst's Ok-bin Kim). Needless to say, Hyun-ki grows obsessed with the case quickly--but it's So-young who begins to have visions of the murdered girl...
Cinematographer Kwang-suk Chung has no other credits listed at IMDB. That doesn't necessarily mean anything where foreign crew members are concerned; IMDB is notoriously incomplete when it comes to work outside Hollywood/Bollywood. But if it is the case, it's a crime against humanity that must be rectified as soon as possible; what Chung did with cameras in the filming of this movie is something special indeed. The salt house which sits at the center of the action is so lovingly rendered that it becomes a character in the story; the only building I can think of done as well in a recent film is the abandoned house in Leonardo DiCaprio's extended dream sequence towards the end of Inception, but there is an order of magnitude more substance here. This is cinematography as a living, breathing thing, and work like this is not seen nearly often enough.
Which is not to overstate (though I guess I already have) the movie as a whole; it is still somewhat derivative, if very competently done and well-acted. Even if you think you've had your fill of supernatural Asian mysteries and long-haired ghosts, give this one a look; if nothing else, you will find it very beautiful. *** ½
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