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Thursday, 8 May 2014

FEBRUARY 29th: Evil is Coming...

A Curse. A Serial Killer. A Twist Ending: The Recipe For Horror Goodness.

4 Stars

This ghost-story takes on something of an urban legend form, using the mysterious nature of the allusive 29th day of February. There are many traditions associated with Leap Year and Leap Day around the world, such as Ladies Privilege, but there are also some eerie legends, like a Leap Day Baby will prove difficult to raise. Instead of using any of the more commonly known Leap Day legends, this film identifies a curse on the day which has a crazed serial killer return every four years to claim innocent victims. Surprisingly, the killer is not only denied the privilege of a backstory in the film, but is also a woman. Such rarities within the plot make the film exceptionally original and incredibly intriguing.

Despite the fact that the plot moved back and forth in time, the story is very easy to follow. It is told mainly from the perspective of Ji-Yeon, a young woman who is locked in a mental facility suffering from sleep depravation and paranoia. When a journalist visits her to get her strange story we learn that her fear stems from a belief that she is being stalked and targeted by the ghost of a serial killer. Her story begins late one night while working at a toll booth. When she is handed a bloody toll ticket during an inexplicable blackout in her booth, she tries not to panic. Her anxiety about the issue is kept to a minimum until she begins to connect some unsettling dots - like a woman who seems to be following her - oh, and dressing like her (which, believe me, within this context is much creepier than it sounds). As Leap Day nears, Ji-Yeon becomes more and more convinced that her pursuer is after more than her sense of style. Unfortunately, as is usually the case in horror films, no one will take her suspicions seriously. Worse, a dead body has already turned up, and the local detectives have begun to take quite the interest in her.

It has a great tense atmosphere, and a compelling plot. Telling the story from the hospital is a real benefit as it continuously engages us with Ji-Yeon and her rapid decline into “insanity”. Her downward spiral is in fact so quick that we barely get a chance to know who she was before all of the madness took over, but that’s okay because it gives the film a comfortable pace, always holding the viewer’s attention.

It’s not a very gory film, nor does it have many jumpscares but it’s certainly effective. Perhaps it is the claustrophobic space of the toll booth, combined with the small cast that makes this atmosphere so creepy - whatever it’s doing, it’s doing it well. My one criticism might be that the finale is a little abrupt, however, it’s an unexpected twist and its suddenness might be beneficial in shocking the audience.

Admittedly, I have not seen much K-Horror, but now I think I should.