Sunday, October 14, 2012
Halloween movie month: Muoi: the Legend of a Portrait
Basic plot: A Korean writer travels to Vietnam, where her friend helps her uncover the legend of the vengeful ghost of Muoi for her new book.
Typically in my reviews, I try to give enough of a review for you to know what I like and dislike about a movie and whether or not to see it, but without giving away so much of the film that it completely ruins it for those planning on watching it. But in order for me to give my review on Muoi, I might be revealing some major plot points. So, I'm going to start out with my recommendation and a basic reasoning for my recommendation, before going into detail. That way, you can decide if you want to continue reading the rest of the review, or watch the film for yourself.
Recommendation: Pass. There was a good production quality, good acting, and a few genuinely creepy scares. But, that being said, the scares were way too predictable, the plot was too underdeveloped, and the entire film just felt boring.
If you continue reading, be aware that from here on out, there might be major spoilers.
This film plays very heavily on the use of the dark and shadows, in that most of the scares either happen at night, or come out of the shadows. But, for the most part, you either see something move in the back ground before it jumps out at you, or they put the scare exactly where you expect it. So, even though there are a few scenes that are genuinely creepy, they kind of lose all of their startle effect by being completely predictable. The other predictable thing about the scares in Muoi is the use of grey-skinned ghosts with long black hair and a grudge. I know that it can sometimes be quite difficult to come up with something new and original in horror stories, which means that most horror stories are going to make use of at least some horror cliches to get a scare. But this feels like was nothing but cliches, resulting in a horror story that was pretty boring.
Overall, the plot isn't that bad. Muoi is a vengeful ghost because she was betrayed by her love. And Seoyeon summons Muoi's ghost because of her own sense of vengeance from when she was betrayed by her "love." In general, Seoyeon's motives do make for a pretty good revenge story. But the plot moves way too slow in getting to the point of explaining why exactly she wants revenge. Beyond that, it takes too long before you even know that she is trying to get revenge. You know that something is a bit off with her pretty early on, but it doesn't make sense as to why. One of the keys to having a good thriller is to either know what is going on, but not why...or know why something is happening, but you don't know exactly what that is. Muoi tries to do both, and therefore does neither. The entire movie is a buildup to the deaths of two minor (very minor...like, a grand total of 5 minutes screen time) characters. But it doesn't really address their role in the plot until pretty late into the film. Overall, it is just too underdeveloped to really care what happens to any of the characters.
I think that Muoi would have worked much better if it has just focused on the revenge plot, and left out all of the ghostly and supernatural bits. If they had done that, there could have been some genuine terror because you would have known that she was plotting something horrible and that vengeance would be hers, but you would be on the edge of your seat waiting to see how it happens. Plus, there is a pretty big plot hole with the vengeance plot. Even though the two characters that she focuses on were definitely involved in what happened to her, they aren't the ones who did it directly. In case you were wondering, and if you are still reading I can assume that you are not going to watch the movie, she was raped by three men as the other two (the two she actually kills) watch and videotape it.
Again, my recommendation is to pass. There were definitely some good aspects of the movie, and I think it could have had the potential to be a pretty good revenge drama/thriller. But overall, it just seemed boring and a bit without a cohesive sense of direction. There wasn't really anything about it that made it unpleasant to watch. But to me, it fell well short of being enjoyable to watch.
I will try to watch a few more Asian horror films to find a good one to recommend before Halloween. In the meantime, be sure to check back soon for the next review in Halloween movie month.