DVD Movie Review | Phone (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 02.01.2017 1

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Phone (UK Rating: 15)

When it comes to Asian horror, Japan is often thought of as the best, with some of the most well-known releases out there. Despite that, South Korea is starting to step up more and more, with some amazing releases for every horror sub-genre, from the creature feature The Host, to the chilling thriller I Saw the Devil, through to the recently released superb zombie movie, Train to Busan. With so many Korean horror flicks to pick from, Cubed3 once again looks at a Tartan Asia release - a little ghost story from director Ahn Byeong-Ki called Phone.

Image for DVD Movie Review | Phone (Lights, Camera, Action!)

Some things get lost in translation; for example, film studio names. As the opening credits begin for Phone and the familiar Buena Vista logo flashes on the screen, next a rather less familiar one takes its place… the logo of Toilet Pictures. It has to be hoped that it's not indicative of the quality of its contents...

Phone follows young journalist Ji-Won, introduced as quite the heroine, as with her latest article she is bringing some of the worst monsters out into the light, unearthing a sex scandal in her town by putting the spotlight on a ring of paedophiles, which includes some very powerful people. Obviously, so openly attacking these sorts makes her a few enemies, and Ji-Won soon finds herself the victim of threatening phone calls and a stalker is regularly close by. To try and escape until things cool down, she decides to hide out in her sister's second house. Her sister married a rich guy and they have a second home that's being left empty for when their daughter is old enough to have it. Along with moving house, Ji-Won decides to change her mobile number to get rid of the threatening calls; the new number, however, ends up receiving calls that are much worse.

When her young niece picks up one of these strange calls, she refuses to move the phone from her head, instead just listening… and then she screams. After this, her behaviour begins to worsen. She gets strangely aggressive towards her mother, and her attitude to her father becomes very odd. Her whole mood changes at times, making her seem like someone else. The kid goes through a bunch of testing with seemingly nothing wrong and, meanwhile, aunty Ji-Won is on a mission to find out everything she can about this phone number she has acquired.

It turns out that it has a dark history, with the previous owners all meeting grisly fates, one of which - a high school girl called Jin-hee - mysteriously vanished. A great deal of time is spent looking into the life of Jin-Hee and the troubles she had at school. The film tries to pull numerous plotlines together, and for the majority of the time it does so unsuccessfully, delivering a tale that feels confusing and, frankly, messy. Bouncing around from Jin-Hee's time to Ji-Won's and attempting to build up something of a murder mystery on top of the ghost story does not sit right. It's all rather clumsy, that is up until the finale. In the last hour or so of the film, a superb conclusion knocks the socks off the audience.

Image for DVD Movie Review | Phone (Lights, Camera, Action!)

One of the biggest strengths of Phone is the child actress playing the young niece (the actress is aptly named Young). Child actors can so rarely capture the tone of such a movie, but here the performance is superb, and she manages to go from the happy young girl to evoking some truly scary moments. She really helps to make Phone much better than it otherwise would be.

Rated 6 out of 10


This movie may be from Toilet Pictures, but it's not full of …well, you get the gist! It falters and stutters midway through, but is ultimately redeemed by its fantastic ending, and the horror thrills throughout will keep viewers on the edge of their seat, especially thanks to the strong performance of the young niece. Phone is definitely one to watch if you like a complex story, with lots of eerie moments, yet also have plenty of patience.

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Still one of my favourite Korean horror movies! Can't say I really dwelled on the story too much - I was too creeped out by the little girl! Lots of good scares!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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