Director:  Ahn Byeong-ki
Year: 2004
Rating: 6.0

Country: Korea

Aka - Ouija Board

Aka - Witch Board

Back in 2004 Korea was waist deep in horror films and knee deep in ones that took place in girl schools. Like much of Asia at the time, their horror films were very much influenced by those from Japan with long haired ghosts frequenting a number of them. There were a few real stand-outs like A Tale of Two Sisters, Phone, Memento Mori but most of them though well produced and looking good, fell short of their goal of scaring the hell out of us. Still entertaining though but after a while they begin to feel familiar. This one falls into that category. It is directed by Ahn Byeong-ki, who had made Phone two years before this (and even has a short cameo here by the little girl who was terrifying in that film) but it doesn't reach the scare standards of that film. He followed this one with Apt in 2006 which was solid as far as I recall. Since then not very much from this director other than three Bunshinsaba films that seem to have been made in China with a Chinese cast.

That said, this is a quality film with a few solid jump scares and a number of gruesome deaths that keep escalating but the second half loses its way and rhythm by trying to explain what is going on by a series of flashbacks. And then still having a murky ending that left me totally puzzled. But the first half is terrific as it builds up slowly with a few mysterious deaths and a high school girl with 3-D eyes in a 2-D movie going insane. There are some chilling moments primarily provided by those eyes just starring with rage. I wonder how the husband of that actress must feel if he wakes up at night and sees her looking at him. Creepy eyes. Full of hatred.

One theme that runs through many of these Korean girl high school horror films is cruelty.  A group of mean girls making life hell for others. This high school is set in an isolated town where newcomers are not welcome. When Yoo Jin (Lee Se-eun) and her family arrive from Seoul she becomes an immediate target for bullying by a group of girls. She doesn't appreciate it and with two other girls she performs a ritual that calls for a spirit called Bunshinsaba to come forth and punish her tormentors. But she warns the girl not to open their eyes during the ritual or bad things will happen. But Yoo Jin is the one who opens her eyes and sure enough bad things begin to happen. All the names on the list begin putting bags over their heads and setting them on fire - but it begins to appear likely that the spirit she called forth was not some ordinary run of the mill spirit but that of Kim In-sook, a girl who died 30 years ago in a manner that no one in the town is willing to talk about. But this revengeful ghost has just begun her work.