It is always reinvigorating to find films that deal with the supernatural and particularly the concept of the ghost in a unique way, in a category that occasionally seems to have surpassed the borders of being preterit even. Yu Eun-jeong’s debut feature effort does exactly that by giving a distinctively social essence to the concept, in a film that won the Audience Award in BIFAN.
The story begins with a note rather different than the rest of the film, as we watch Hye-jeong strolling in the night with a man, before she turns down his love confession, with a rather pragmatist statement about not having any interest in relationships, because they are time consuming. Thus, a portrait of a depressed woman begins to take shape, although it is soon revealed that this is not a social drama, particularly when Hye-jeong realizes he has become a ghost. Her decision winks to the crime film, although with a supernatural twist: she goes back in time and tries to find how she became a ghost, and eventually to prevent the events that led her to it. During her trip, she is reacquainted to her roommates, Ji-yeon and her sister Mi-sook, who practically ignored her while she was alive and Su-yang, a young girl she stumbles upon in the streets as she walks around during the nights, who seems to cry for help. Soon, a crime that seems to have everyone involved starts to take shape, while Kwang-sik, a loan shark, comes to the fore.
The narrative’s main trait is formed through the combination of Yu Eun-jeong’s writing, Lee Young-lim’s editing and Lee Ju-hwan’s cinematography who create an atmosphere of extreme eeriness that begins as something similar to “The Sixth Sense” but soon turns to something completely different, particularly through the concept of the “time travel” and the rather intense crime case. This sense of disorientation actually carries the film for the majority of its duration, through an approach that lingers between the art-house and the mainstream, particularly due to the relatively slow pace, that occasionally, though, picks up speed. I mention the majority, because in the end, the story somewhat falls somewhat short, particularly regarding all the questions that were raised during the progress of the story. This fault however, is not enough to ruin the overall sense the movie leaves, which is quite good.
Add to all that the social comments regarding alienation, the difficulty of relationships in contemporary Korea, both friendly and romantic, and the financial issues many people have to face nowadays, along with the extreme solutions they occasionally end up choosing, and you have the backbone of the movie. The element that left me impressed however, is that finally a film like that has somewhat of a happy ending, despite the fact that its general premise is that of the drama.
The almost exclusively female cast is quite on par with the movie’s aesthetics, headed by an excellent Han Hae-in as Kang Hye-jeong, whose transformation from a depressingly meaningless individual to someone who manages to change almost everyone around her is one of the film’s better aspects. Lee Ja-min as Yoo Ji-yeon and Choi Sol-hee as Cha Mi-sook provide great secondary performances, while little Gam So-hyun as Soo-yang steals the show a number of times.
“Ghost Walk” could have been better with a bit of more careful writing, but in general is really good film that manages to make the most of the many components that form its narrative.