Director: Choi Ik-hwan.
Year: 2005
Production Company: Cine2000
Running Time:  104 minutes

Voice is the fourth in a series of all-girl high school horror ghost films – the others being “Whispering Corridors (1998), “Memento Mori” (1999) and “Wishing Stairs (2003) – let’s face it, horror and girls in school uniforms has long been a selling point. Besides the short skirts, locating these stories in a girl’s high school has also allowed the filmmakers to explore other issues – the academic need of performing well, peer pressure, the cruelty of the young, teacher abuse, being an outsider and friendship. The deep friendship between two girls is always at the core of these films and how it is tested by the world around them. This is certainly the case with “Voice”.

“Voice” doesn’t really set out to derive scares and there are really none to be had in the film. It is instead a very melancholy film that explores the bonds of friendship – even after death. Think of this as more of a murder mystery – two friends trying to solve a crime – in this case the murder of one of them. Yeong-eon (Kim Ok-Bin) and Sun-min (Seo Ji-Hye) have been nearly inseparable friends ever since Yeong-eon’s mother committed suicide a few years ago. One evening though Yeong-eon stays behind at school to practice her immense singing talent – later she tells Sun-min “I should have gone with you” – because that night she feels an evil presence around her and collapses after a music sheet is projected into her throat. When she wakes up the next day though she feels fine and wonders if it was just a bad dream – then the real horror begins – no one can see her or hear her – and she begins to realize with abject sadness that she is dead and stuck in some high school limbo world. She keeps telling herself to please wake up, but there is no waking up or sleeping. Just infinite loneliness.
She discovers one link to the living world – Sun-min is still able to hear her because of their strong connection and this is all Yeong-eon has. The two of them decide to find out what happened and who is responsible – the body of Yeong-eon hasn’t even been discovered and there is hope that somehow she is still alive and this is just her projection. One of the other students, the morbid Cho-ah (Cha Ye-Ryeon) has psychic powers and can also sense Yeong-eon and tells Sun-min that “If forgotten the ghost loses its voice. It will become unseen and unheard” and vanish. They discover that it all seems to be connected to another girl who committed suicide previously and the music teacher, but this opens up other questions – about Yeong-eon and their friendship is tested to the limit. Cho-ah warns Sun-min “The ghost remembers only what it wants to”.
What is quite effective here is simply the irreversibility of death and how profoundly sad it can be for both the dead and those left behind. At one point Sun-min turns to Yeong-eon in frustration and anger exclaiming that no matter what they do it will never bring her back to life. How long can a friend stay loyal to her dead friend, but if she doesn’t the ghost will vanish. This mixture of pathos, a few chills and female bonding makes for an interesting film and both young actresses do fine jobs in portraying their characters.

My rating for this film: 7.0


Reviewed: 02/06

Previous films from Director:

This is his debut film