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Film Review: Red Eye (Redeu-ai ) (2005)

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SYNOPSIS:

A supernatural story about a mystic events occurring on the train, which had the route similar to the train which crashed many years ago

REVIEW:

Red Eye is a 2005 Korean horror directed by Dong-bin Kim.  Not be confused be the American film by the same name and release year, it’s a poorly constructed story about a haunted train and its unlucky passengers. In centre of the story is a young stewardess Oh Mi-sun working her first shift on the job. After changing shifts with a colleague, she ends up in a night shift on train doing its last run on that particular line. Unbeknown to everyone, incorporated in the train are coaches from another train that crashed on that very same line 15 years earlier, killing 250 people. As the train departs, mysterious incidents soon start to happen all over the train, leaving the passengers stuck in a haunted time loop with no escape in sight.

While Red Eye is plagued with a multitude of problems, one of the biggest is its incredibly slow pacing.  The story jumps about aimlessly for a very long time without anything really happening, giving the viewer plenty of opportunities to switch off the film and find something better to watch. It’s not only the fact that nothing horror related actually happens until midway through the film. It’s the fact that unlike the forever onward speeding ghost train, the plot of this mess of a film goes nowhere for a nearly an hour and that’s really not great for a film with 1h 36 min running time. Supposedly all this dawdle is so all the 500 (I exaggerate, but for a reason) characters inhabiting the ghostly locomotive can be introduced and at least some of Oh Mi-suns background can be explained. However, even though a rather lengthy amount of time is used going through the various passengers and some key details about Oh Mi-sun’s backstory are revealed, all of it is done in such a superficial way that it adds absolutely no depth what so ever to the story or the characters.  Instead it makes the whole story feel frivolous and long winded, with no aim in sight.

This staggering number of meaningless characters is another major issue. Even though many of them get at least some degree of introduction, most of them play very small roles in the actual plot, making the time spent on them completely pointless. Even the characters that do end up playing more of a key role in this chain of events seem to do so out of nowhere and without a believable motivation, making the whole dynamic very confusing and frustrating to watch.

The scares a few and far between and keep the viewer waiting for good while before actually manifesting themselves on the screen. The production value is not the greatest, so a lot of the special effects are not the greatest of quality.  There is couple of neat ideas in the mix, like a bloody ghost crawling out of pool of blood, but unfortunately the execution fails miserably. The biggest problem though is not the actual scares themselves, but the acting that goes along with them. What you often see in small budget productions such as this is actors taking the scare scenes way over the top and screaming from the top of their lungs, giving everything a slightly cheesy feeling. Red Eye however has a completely opposite problem. The actors don’t seem to be reacting to anything and when they do, the reactions are oddly delayed, sucking any possible impact right out of the scene. And this is not just merely one or two actors, but consistent phenomenon throughout the film, potentially indicating that the problems was not so much the actors, but rather the direction they were given.

To sum it up, the most cardinal sin that Red Eye is guilty of is being boring; the worst possible thing that a horror film can be. A good horror movie can be cheesy, it can be unintentionally funny or stupendously badly acted. It can be so bad that it goes right back to being good. Boring however is the one thing that will decimate even the best of ideas. I’m not going to lie, I fell asleep three time while trying to watch Red Eye and it wasn’t because I was overly tired.  It’s just an incredibly boring and badly constructed film that I would not recommend to anyone.

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