Phone is a solid slice of Asian horror which was released during the wave of popular horror exports from The Ring to The Grudge to Dark Water to A Tale of Two Sisters. But does Phone live up to the hype of it's counterparts?
Stylish Korean horror starring Ji-Won Ha as an investigative reporter who, having recently published a controversial article about sex scandals, has begun receiving a series of menacing phone calls. In an effort to escape the calls, she changes her number and moves house. But the calls keep coming - and when her friend's young daughter innocently answers the ringing phone, she starts to scream in terror and goes on to exhibit increasingly crazed behaviour. As she tries to unravel the mystery behind the phone calls, Ji-Won uncovers the terrible secrets that lie behind her new phone.
Something that is always striking yet refreshing about Asian horror films is that the vast majority of them play out like a mystery thriller. The frights are there. The tone is creepy. But your interest is usually kept until the very end because you are waiting for the unveil. And Phone is no exception.
The real strong point of Phone is the story which is actually clever and complex. Full of twists and turns, it takes you till the end to figure out exactly what is happening and why. And just when you have pieced it all together... They throw another twist at you!
Don't know if cute... Or creepy...
Ha Ji-won is a great lead who is likable and convincing with her desperation of trying to help her friends daughter and solve this mystery. But the little girl Young-ju played by Eun Seo-woo delivers the best performance of the film. For a child, her acting and delivery is brilliant. She can change it from cute to creepy half way through a sentence., which is remarkable.
Going in to Phone, as a horror, you are going to want to be scared. In all honesty the film doesn't fully scare you. The tone and setting is definitely creepy. But there are no real moments that will leave you feeling terrified. There is also no real "jump scares" so don't go in expecting any of those modern Hollywood scares. Phone isn't as scary as Ju-On, but it is a completely different breed of Asian horror.
All in all, South Korea did deliver another good horror film with Phone. Some of the plot and story feels similar to other Asian horrors, and maybe it wasn't as scary as it could have been. But it's a fun film with a compelling story and a stand out performance from the young girl that's definitely worth checking out.