The Movie Waffler First Look Review - THE GHOST STATION | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - THE GHOST STATION

The Ghost Station review
A journalist investigates a mysterious series of deaths at a train station.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Jeong Yonk-Ki

Starring: Kim Bo-Ra, Kim Jae-Hyun, Shin So-Yul, Kim Kang-il

The Ghost Station poster

Hollywood spent much of the noughties imitating and remaking the Japanese "J-Horror" hits of the turn of the century. Director Jeong Yonk-Ki's The Ghost Station suggests it's now time for Korea to ape its close neighbour. The film is based on a popular Korean animated series from 2011 and inspired by an urban legend from that country but Japanese co-writer Hiroshi Takahashi ensures that we don't forget he wrote the script for The Ring, the 1998 movie that made global audiences obsessed with J-Horror for a brief period.

Like so many J-Horrors, The Ghost Station revolves around a curse. This one involves a Seoul train station that was built over some cursed ground, and in a not so subtle nod to The Ring, there's an old well involved in its history.

The Ghost Station review

Having brought her TMZ-style tabloid gossip website into disrepute for accidentally humiliating a trans woman, young journalist Kim Na-yeong (Kim Bo-ra) is desperate for a scoop to save her job. Wouldn't you know, one lands in her lap when her friend Woo-won (Kim Jae-hyun) has a harrowing experience while working at the cursed station in question. Attempting to get a seemingly suicidal man off the tracks, Woo-won sees a ruddy-faced child peeping out from under the siding just before the man is struck by an oncoming train. The coroner, Yeom (Kim Kang-il), also sees the child while cleaning up the mess.

Teaming up with the nervy Woo-won, Kim investigates and finds that the many people who perished in the station in recent years were heard muttering four digit numbers prior to the deaths, along with bearing distinctive scars on their hands. What could it all mean?

The Ghost Station review

Many of the classic J-Horrors of the late '90s and early 2000s suffered from pacing issues and got a little too bogged down in their procedural narratives at the expense of scares and suspense. At a mere 80 minutes, The Ghost Station certainly can't be accused of following suit. It moves at such a rapid pace that I was tempted to check if my screener wasn't accidentally playing at 1.25x speed. While its briskness is refreshing it's also a little exhausting in parts and the movie could do with taking a chill pill at points to allow the viewer to catch up.

The Ghost Station has a far lighter tone than the sort of movies it's emulating, and Bo-ra is a goofy presence as Kim, which helps us empathise with a character who could have been very unlikeable given their unethical work practices. Jump scares are effective the first couple of times you see a bloody hand emerging over someone's shoulder or a creepy kid appearing from the shadows, but director Yonk-Ki is overly reliant on such well-worn devices. There's a grisly prologue that sets up the action in striking fashion but it's never referred to again and I couldn't figure out if it was supposed to be a flashback or a flash forward. The most effective sequence involves a cellphone focusing on an apparition that can't be seen by human eyes, the focus square growing larger as the ghoul advances. It's something I haven't seen before yet seems obvious, and we'll no doubt see it copied in some upcoming Hollywood horror.

The Ghost Station review

With creepy kids, a spooky well, a curse and even a sinister woman with lank hair, The Ghost Station transposes all the classic J-Horror elements to a Korean setting. It's not an entirely successful transition but with its light touch and brisk pace, The Ghost Station might be the ideal movie to introduce younger viewers to the thrills of East Asian horror. Plus, if you've ever fantasised about cursing your boss you'll appreciate the closing scene.

The Ghost Station
 is on US VOD, DVD and bluray from December 19th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

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