Red Eye

Director: Kim Dong-bin.
Year: 2005
Production Company: Taichang Entertainment
Running Time:  98 minutes

Red Eye falls squarely into a genre flick category – nothing very fancy or original takes place but at least while watching it is somewhat entertaining though certainly nothing that you will remember long afterwards. It combines elements of horror with echoes of a disaster flick. There aren’t any particular scares along the way and unlike many of the recent Korean horror films it is very straight ahead in its narrative and forgoes any artistic pretensions. In the end I am not sure it made a lot of sense but it is fast moving and flies by in a brainless manner quite quickly – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing these days.

Fifteen years previously the 11:50 p.m. train from Seoul to Yeosu mysteriously crashed and 250 passengers were killed with only a few survivors. The blame was put on the dead conductor and his family faced great public shame, but now his daughter Mi-sun (Jang Shin-yeong) is starting her first day on her new job – selling snacks on the train – a train that was made from some of the parts of the destroyed train and makes the same run. This is her birthday – which coincides with the anniversary of the accident. All of these are of course bad signs for anyone who has seen more than a few horror films. If you think you have had bad first days on the job, they are nothing compared to this one.
The train has a number of passengers on it – all the usual types that one might expect in a film of this sort – two teenage girls running away from home, a creepy brother and sister who seem to have more than a sibling affection for one another, a young boy on his own who paints eerie pictures of the past, a young group of adults who are investigating reports that the train is haunted, an academic, a couple who feel fortunate that they just made the train (or did they?), a couple who have a fight after which the boyfriend gets off at the next stop – and then frantically tries to warn his girlfriend that he saw something terrifying from the platform and many others. And let’s not forget the ghosts. There are lots of those – some still apparently pissed off to have died and some who don’t even realize they are dead and appear as just another passenger. Things quickly start going wrong. Kind of like riding Amtrak.
Mi-sun begins seeing apparitions of people and a desolate eerie phantom train and warns that they are all doomed but of course everyone thinks she is crazy. People begin dying – one by a wig that strangles her and one can only hope that it is the same hairpiece from “The Wig” as I would hate to think that is the next worldwide epidemic – angry wigs. One of the students investigating can sense ghosts and she (Kwak Ji-min – from “Samaritan Girl) is more than a little frightened (that she went from a Kim Ki-duk film to a supporting character in this one!). It never adds up to much unfortunately as there just isn’t a lot of imagination at work and you never quite understand why this is all happening. As the bodies begin to pile up so do a lot of rather absurd coincidences that put the whole story on very shaky rails and as the story and the train speeds up it begins to spin out of control and becomes a bit of a train wreck towards the end. As per usual with Korean films, the production values are solid and the actresses are attractive and there are many worse ways to kill 98 minutes.

Rating: 6.0


Reviewed: 02/06

Previous films from Director:

The Ring Virus (1999)
Mom’s Got a Lover (1995)