Following hot on the heels of well-known Asian chillers such as “Ring”, “Dark Water” and “Ju-on” comes a ghost story to top them all. “Phone” tells the story of an investigative reporter, Ji-won, who has recently published a controversial article about sex-scandals and has since begun receiving a series of menacing phone calls. In an effort to escape the phone calls she changes her number and moves house, but the calls keep coming. When a friend’s young daughter innocently answers the ringing telephone she begins to exhibit increasingly crazed behaviour. As she tries to unravel the mystery behind the phone calls Ji-won uncovers a secret that will change them all. Stylish and terrifying, “Phone” follows the growing pedigree of Asian horror, that shock, scare and astonish in equal measure.
2002 – Certificate: 15 – South Korean Film
Rating Details: Strong psychological horror
7.0 out of 10
It’s confession time here in Cactus World. I’ve never owned a mobile phone. I’m one of the 10% or so of people living in the UK that doesn’t have one, a country in which there’re more mobile phones than people. It’s not that I’m a Luddite or anything. I got Windows 7 when it first came out, I’ve a 120Mb Internet connection, a TV service with hundreds of channels I never watch and even a landline. I actually have a mobile for work too, (an elderly Nokia smartphone, although no data contract to go with it). The amount of increasingly desperate marketing materials I get from Virgin Media offering me billions of texts, terabytes of data and endless free mobile calls, suggests its marketing department’s best algorithms have identified me as a dangerous, social anomaly that needs to be dealt with, by selling me a phone and mobile service contract as soon as possible. I imagine GCHQ has probably got me on its ‘high risk’ list of people who’re attempting to live off the grid, in preparation for launching a huge, worldwide terrorist attack on the good and the great. Unfortunately, the two things I’d actually need to make getting a phone worthwhile, namely some friends to contact and some time in which to do so, don’t seem to be included in any of Virgin Media’s offers, at least not yet… This film hasn’t made getting a mobile any more attractive to me either.
This is a chilling movie. At least the first half of it is. Then the story gets a bit muddled up and it turns into more of a straightforward, supernatural thriller, before everything gets explained at the end. The latter was pretty helpful, as by then I’d sort of lost the plot and it wasn’t as if I’d had much to drink either. It’s worth a watch just to see the terrifying little kid in it. I really did believe she’d been possessed by the spirit of her father’s dead, underage lover. I was going to ring the police to report it, but by then I was too scared to use the phone. This film makes great use sound, from the audio design itself through to the annoying ringing of the phones. The latter all seem to share the same cheap and nasty ringtone, although the modern option of the latest nondescript Top Ten hit by someone with little talent, played via a speaker with all the sonic range of kettle, is arguably no better. There was some decent DIY on show too.
One of the things that makes this film work is its music. In particular, it uses Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor Op. 27 No. 2 (aka the Moonlight Sonata) to great effect. This is one of the best bits of classical music ever written.
The trailer is almost entirely useless, as it does nothing to make the movie interesting. In fact if you wanted to see how not to make a trailer, this one would be a pretty good example. It’s over melodramatic, incoherent, says nothing about the film and is too dark as well.
Recommended for journalists, wives that don’t appear to do much and schoolgirls that want to get off with older men; and pissed off spirits.
No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.
Top badass moment? Chang-hoon is some guy. He’s the CEO of a big company, has a beautiful wife and a schoolgirl lover, yet he’s got all the personally of a plank of wood. I guess his money and his (I assume) ability in bed must make up for it. (His wife was pretty boring as well if I’m honest.) Still, he’s clearly some sort of Korean alpha male, badass dude.
I remember when all phone boxes were red with lots of their original rectangular glass panels replaced by plastic ones, always smelt of piss and you had to use either 2p or 10p coins in them; not that they worked most of the time anyway. Now you only seem to see them in quaint villages; or in people’s gardens being used as a weird sort of greenhouse and to give their owners the opportunity to say to anyone who needs to find where they live, “look out for the phone box in the front garden”; ha-ha very funny. Nowadays, you need a credit-card to use most of them, which is a bit ironic because nothing shouts out “failure” with a big arrow pointing at you more, than using a public phone box. With mobiles being so omnipresent, only the poorest or most stupid of people use phone boxes these days. So basically what I’m saying is that using a phone box is the same as making a public statement to the effect that, “I’m a failure in life, put me up against a wall and shoot me”. I never use them myself of course, as I’m a winner!
2002 – Certificate: 15
Language: Frequent, Strong. Sex/Nudity: Some Strong References. Violence: Some, Strong. Other: Persistent Threat.
It’s a few years since I last watched this semi-classic thriller and it felt dated this time around. I’m not sure why, it just does. Maybe it’s the clichéd presentation of New York that does it, I’m not too sure. This is a shame, as it’s otherwise a really good film, tense, original and entertaining. There aren’t a lot of films where one of the main characters is only on-screen for a minute or so. Colin Farrell (Stuart Shephard) does a really good job as ‘the victim’ too. Even cooler, he was in an episode of “Blakes 7” once.
No cats and no decapitations.
Recommended for the entire mobile telecommunications industry. This film has single-handedly done more for the likes of Vodafone, Orange and O2 etc than anything else. Walking and talking at the same time makes you a harder target to shoot at, a genuine worry than most mobile users have, I know; never mind that it makes you 100 times more likely to be hit by a car, or one of those lampposts that like to jump out in front of mobile users.
Top badass moment? Captain Ramey (Forest Whitaker) for playing the ‘good cop with problems’. Give the guy a holiday someone, he looks like he needs one. Good cops are badass.