Simply put, I was amazingly disappointed. I'm a huge fan of Asian Horror, and I can watch unoriginality (I myself enjoyed "The Red Shoes" and "Phone"), but this was just poor.
The movie has a lot of elements that are very high-quality: the photography is eye-catching, the visuals are cool, the directing is inspired, the acting is pretty good, the music is easy on the ears, and the CGI is incredible. But, since this is a horror film, we are expected to be scared, which just won't happen with this film. As with most South Korean horrors, this is unoriginal almost from beginning to end: there's the trademark long-haired vengeful female ghost, ominous clumps of thick, black hair and puddles of water, and near the end, a twist that *almost*, but not quite makes sense out of the whole thing (the twist is easily one of the best qualities). And to the viewer's irritation, when the film isn't recycling (at times, so exact that it could easily be dubbed plagiarized) imagery from other movies, it's making you jump. A lot. And by jumps, I don't mean things jumping out or anything, just VERY loud noises and screeches in the soundtrack used to make the audience jump six feet in the air (there's even a few "made-you-jump" moments that are simply infuriating). And when it is not ripping-off other movies, it's boring, and hard to sit through.
And it's a shame, because "Ryeong" could have easily been really good, and it has everything to make it good, but its the annoying overuse of completely predictable loud noises and jump scares that eventually ruin the movie. A perfect example of how good it could have been: there's a moment when one of out characters is looking at a corpse, and without a sound, the corpse looks back. It's wholly predictable, but the use of silence in that scene is brilliant. And unfortunately, that's as scary as the movie got for me.
Admittedly, "Ryeong" has a few good features, and even a couple jumps that aren't as predictable, and do work. There's a very good and sad back-story used to explain the events, and the twist is pretty unpredictable. Those are the only things that separate the film from any other Asian ghost/horror film. But the problem with these is, even though they do work, they have been used before (J-Horror fans will easily realize the big reveal was inspired by "A Tale of Two Sisters"), and it takes the back-story a good fifty minutes to get going.
So in the end, "Ryong" really seems like a truly wasted opportunity. Tae-kyeong Kim hoped that the plot twist and other good features act as diversions, so the audience won't notice the huge flaws. But he failed, and well... We noticed everything.
My rating: 4/10.
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