Whispering Corridors (February 13/05)
Whispering Corridors, like the majority of its Asian horror cousins, is heavy on atmosphere but light on character development and plot. Director Ki-Hyung Park does an effective job of establishing a creepy ambiance right from the get-go, but is unable to sustain the level of dread throughout (this is primarily due to a storyline that eventually becomes baffling beyond belief).
The film opens with a fantastic sequence in which a teacher at an all-girls school becomes convinced she's being stalked by a ghost, though it's soon apparent that this is no figment of her imagination (she's found hanging from a tree, Scream-style, the next day). The remainder of the film revolves around the students and faculty of the school, as they go about their day-to-day lives and occasionally find themselves confronted by some seriously bizarre happenings.
Whispering Corridors features an expectedly deliberate pace, with the more overt horror elements kept in the background for much of the film's running time. Park (who co-write the script with Jung-Ok In) instead places the emphasis on the girls and their soap opera-esque trials and tribulations within the school. As a result, the movie is packed with instances of in-fighting and bitchiness among the students and faculty (in terms of the latter, there's a particularly vicious male teacher who receives an appropriately brutal comeuppance). Strangely enough, it's this portion of the film that's the most effective; as a peek into the goings-on at an all-girls school, there's no denying that Whispering Corridors succeeds (despite the lack of intriguing characters).
But the movie eventually abandons this aspect, choosing instead to focus entirely on the supposed ghost that's roaming the hallways. Because said apparition's motives are never made entirely clear, it's impossible to get entirely wrapped up in this aspect of the film - despite a long sequence towards the end in which two of the characters find themselves having a full-blown conversation with her/it! In the end, Whispering Corridors is almost a prototypical Asian horror movie - sharing all the positive and negative aspects of this genre.