Despite some lukewarm reviews I read, I found this movie thoroughly enjoyable.
At an all-girl high school in South Korea, one girl is attacking people in the evenings. It could be the artist Lim Ji-oh (Kim Gyu-ri), the shy girl Youn Jae-yi (Choi Se-yeon), the smart girl (Young-Soo Park?), or the surly-looking girl Kim Jung-sook (Yun Ji-hye). There is also a young, unsure teacher Hur Eun-young (Lee Mi-yeon) who has returned to teach in her former school.
All the characters have painful secrets. However, the attacker has preternatural speed and strength, which means she is not entirely human.There are some gory bits but it was mostly about the atmosphere and mystery.
My first and strongest reaction was, “Surely, Korean schools aren’t that tough?” The girls are almost entirely compliant but the teachers have nothing but contempt for them. They physically abuse the girls (hitting them with rulers, knocking them to the ground). One of the teachers, Mr. Oh, is constantly making sexual advances to the girls. If the girls whisper to one another, he accuses them of being “degenerate.”
High school as a metaphorical hell has never been quite as blatant.
According to some of the things I’ve read (Metropolitician and Pop Matters ), the movie was protested by the South Korean teachers’ organization. The director Park Ki-hyeong discusses his film – short and worth reading. It’s been ten years since the film was made, and these issues may be moot.
All the girls were individuals and were neither perfectly sweet nor perfectly vile. In the world of the movie the girls are faced with a struggle both in high school and further on in life. While I didn’t exactly like all of the girls, their problems made them interesting. I also liked that the relationships between women, good and bad, were at the center of the story.
I don’t believe I’d seen any Korean films before this one, so it was a new and intriguing experience for me. It made me interested in seeing the sequels to this movie and other South Korean movies not in the horror genre. Recommended.