After “Wishing Stairs” comes “Voice”. One day, a quiet but talented singer student named Young-eon gets killed by a mysterious voice. Soon after her disappearance, her best friend, Sun-min starts to hear her voice. Frightened at first, Sun-min tries to help her friend. But she is not the only one who hears Young-eon’s voice. Cho-ah, another student who can hear the dead since her childhood, claims she also hears Young-eon’s voice… and someone else’s…
REVIEW: The fourth installment of a winning movie series in Korea, “Voice” (also titled “Moksori” in Korean) can be said to be riding on the coattails of recent, successful Korean horror films such as “The Wig” and “Ghost Train” while still adhering to the thematic elements of its predecessors, namely “Whispering Corridors”, “Memento Mori” and “Wishing Stairs”.
Most recent Korean horror films have indeed deviated from the norm, whereby ghosts and spirits are no longer there to taunt, horrify and traumatise both the protagonists and audiences alike. They are now simply there to narrate a story. It has indeed been a current trend among Korean horror directors to use the horror genre as the controlling device to push a story forward. In short, the crux of the film no longer lies in its genre; it lies in its storytelling, as it always should be. The genre thereby becomes the tool that propels the story forward.
Similar to most Korean films, “Voice” has a very simple storyline. Young-eon (Kim Ok-Bin), a gifted vocalist who befriended a fellow classmate, Seon-min (Seo Ji-Hye), soon met with a fatal accident. Soon after, she realised that Seon-min is her only hope to stay in the mortal world. Everything seems fine until a strange girl who has the ability to hear voices from the dead Cho-Ah (Cha Ye-Ryun) appeared. With a simple premise, the film builds on the blossoming of the relationships between the female leads and suddenly splinters them as the film spins towards its finale with a twist.
The film thereby sacrifices pace and gore for a strong, pivotal storyline. And in “Voice”, the strong and resilient bond between the female leads stood out. It is interesting to highlight here that there seems to be subtle hints in some scenes that reek of lesbianism but - as if on purpose - it falls short of confirming this line of thought. This film, however, surpasses that of “Wishing Stairs” as while the former engages the audience with the developing relationships that blossom among the two female leads, the latter did not manage to achieve this effect with the intrusion of a third party.
“Voice” is a very human film that focuses on true human emotions and more importantly, deep friendships. It explores the meaning of friendships and its depth in specific details using various scenarios. It acknowledges the complexity of human nature and laid bare the facts that while an individual may be deemed to be innocent, that can be a façade where a darker side resides beneath the surface. That an individual will resort to all means to survive and be remembered is also explored.
Extreme emphasis has also been placed on the element of voice, using it as a metaphor for identity. Akin to the saying that “a horror film is no longer one when the sound is shut out”, this film’s only scary component is the sound. Visual components simply play second fiddle to the sound’s ability to terrify. It have been used to good effect in this film in several prominent scenes that includes chants, singings, hums and screeches in the whole spectrum of pitches.
That “Voice” is a film deemed for horror fans is a fallacy. “Voice” is more than a film to be screamed or screeched at. It is a film that looks at horror in a new light and creates an understanding that ghosts and spirits are no malicious beings who taunts and kills at will; That more often than not, they are victims of circumstances.
Of course, there are already many existing films that portray them in a good light. But “Voice” goes further and beyond to relay the message that they are doing what they are doing in order to survive: nothing more, nothing less.