In a postscript to the film, we are told that the title Arang is derived from a 400-year old legend of a woman badly wronged finally getting her well-earned revenge. There are a lot of wrongs being revenged in this film. A group of men begin dying horrible deaths in which they first receive an email that links them to a website of a Salt Village in rural Korea. Soon thereafter a spectral presence with long disheveled hair, an evil eye and blood streaking down from it makes itself known to the men – whereupon they begin screaming and soon die. The police begin investigating with the tough recently suspended for violence female cop So-young (Song Yun-ah) taking the lead (though honestly her portrayal as a rough cop isn’t all that convincing) with assistance from rookie Hyun-gi (Lee Dong Wook ) – formerly in forensics but who wants to catch killers not just look at their victims. The post-mortem tells them that the victims were killed with prussic acid gas – but not externally applied – instead produced internally – an impossibility, the coroner tells them.

So-young begins to explore the pasts of the men and discovers a linkage between them – a murder of a young man that took place many years before when they were all on a vacation in a small little town. One of the men was convicted of the crime and served his term. The murdered man had a girlfriend, but she has been missing for nine years. She maintained a website – of a Salt House – which schoolgirl’s rumor to be haunted by a mother and her daughter. In one of the film’s more perplexing huh moments, So-young cuts open a dog and retrieves a video tape – that shows the horror that happened years ago and perhaps the motive for all the killings – but by what or whom?

The film plays out much like a police procedural but with few real scares – it is a search for a killer but the audience was of course privy to the murders and so is perhaps a step ahead of the police (or are we?). But it is the back story that is covered in mystery and one that continues to take twists along the way. One of them is rather ridiculous though – no – make that two of them – which leaves you wondering at the end what the heck to make of what you have just watched. Not a lot of it makes too much sense – but it is still rather enjoyable to some extent - until you think about it. Then, it all sort of falls apart. This is the debut film of director Ahn Sang Hoon.

My rating for this film: 6.0


Reviewed: 03/07