Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: Epitaph

Epitaph (2007)
Genre: Horror
Format: Netflix Stream
Director: The Jung Brothers

Epitaph is a horror anthology that revolves around the ongoings at one Anseng Hospital back in the 1940s during the Japanese occupation of Korea. It all started when an old college professor was reunited with a lost album with pictures that were taken while he was serving as a young intern at the aforementioned hospital.

There are three tales interwoven into the narrative: the first involves the young intern being given watch duty at the morgue with a couple of fresh corpses residing within, the second is a story of a young girl being haunted by visions of her dead parents, while the third is a murder mystery where Japanese soldiers are being targeted by a serial killer. All of these tales are linked to the hospital staff and what makes things a lot more interesting is that even though each story segment is told one at a time, the scenes between them overlap frequently while the timeline defies chronological adherence. Things can get a little confusing but if you follow along carefully, everything makes sense and it helps that each of the mini-stories are always punctuated with a shocking moment.

Though the supernatural elements are really strong, the movie seems to be more concerned about a theme that is more grounded in reality: loneliness. Epitaph can get downright creepy at times and some of the scare scenes are really horrific but the most unique thing about the movie is that the chills came from a very morose and extremely emotional place. Take the story of the girl who lost her parents - once it was revealed in detail what caused their demise, it was hard to hold back the sorrow, especially leading towards that segment's cruel yet inevitable consequence. Epitaph is one of those rare horror movies that doubles as a potent tragedy, as evidenced by the flawed and tortured characters found within it.

With its twisted plot and disturbing horror, there is plenty of reason to love Epitaph. The historic setting also helps the movie gain an authentic blend of culture-clash in terms of both the look of the film as well as the characters and their background. The best part about this movie is that it tries to scare the living daylight out of you while making you sympathize with the fates of the characters involved in the horror - and that it truly succeeds in delivering both.

RATING: 4 out of 5

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