Whispering Corridors

Whispering Corridors (1998)
Tartan Video
Cast: Kang-hie Choi, Gyu-ri Kim
Extras: Photo Gallery, Trailers

"The Ring" is primarily responsible for the Asian horror market blanketing our DVD releases. The problem is, for every movie like "The Ring", there are five movies like "Ring 2". I have kept up with the Asian horror craze, as I love a good horror movie. Various countries have brought fresh ideas to the genre, pushing an envelope that American horror movies have watered down in an age of PG-13 releases. There have been some underrated horror flicks like "Shutter" and "The Eye" mixed in with the big names of "Ju-on: The Grudge" or "Audition". "Whispering Corridors" is the beginning of an unofficial trilogy released by Tartan under their Asia Extreme line of DVD's. Will this Korean thriller have viewers whispering insults or screaming for more?

"Whispering Corridors" has a lot of potential it just doesn't really deliver the scares many viewers will be looking for. Set in a Korean girls school, strange deaths and odd behavior get the girls whispering. Recalled is a supernatural presence, former student Jin-ju, who was murdered in the school, seems to have come back to terrorize the girls. Though the staff attempts to keep things quiet after some 'unexplained' deaths, they soon realize it isn't very easy to keep their skeletons in a closet.

This ghost story is very subtle in its delivery. The scares are minimal and the movie is dialogue heavy. While I was watching "Whispering Corridors", I couldn't help but think of a soap opera. Director Ki-Hyung Park made his debut with this thriller and certainly shows some inexperience. The story is rather basic, so the movie really needs great direction to succeed. A unique vision could have easily turned a standard storyline into an excellent movie. The only real thrills here are how the school's teachers treat the students. If the girl's get out of line, they could get anything from a backhand to a verbal assault. The film's ending is overshadowed by the leisurely pace of the plot, as it may not get a chance to shine with impatient viewers.

The video presentation is surprisingly poor for "Whispering Corridors". Given an anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen presentation, the print is covered in grain and speckled with imperfections. The soft picture showcases washed out colors, making the movie seem years older than it actually is. The subpar look of the DVD can be shared by the vision of Ki-Hyung Park as well as Tartan. A little more attention from both may have helped "Whispering Corridors" look a little less rugged. The subtitles are easy to read and do not blend in with the colors in the movie.

One area Tartan always seems to excel is in the sound department. With DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, "Whispering Corridors" sounds great. I always prefer the DTS track, but both 5.1 tracks are very close in their delivery. The dialogue, which is a major factor in a movie that could be defined as a drama, is at a great level. The channels balance music, sound effects, and dialogue clearly and create a nice soundstage.

In what seems to be a standard for Tartan releases, a still gallery and a few trailers round out the disc.

I think the key to enjoying "Whispering Corridors" is knowing what type of movie it is. When we think of ghost stories, numerous thrillers come to mind so it is hard not to get your hopes up for some great scares. While it does deliver some thrills, "Whispering Corridors" plays out more like a drama than any other genre. The action is minimal and the slow pace of the film will turn off a lot of viewers. A weak video presentation and minimal extras make recommending this DVD difficult. Fans of Korean cinema may want to try and rent this one rather than giving it a blind buy.