Sunday, November 23, 2003

Go ahead, make a wish

It only takes one misstep to screw up your life. Similarly, it only takes one misstep to screw up a good movie. Notwithstanding its promising premise – a mysterious stairway along a wooded path to the school dormitory that will grant you your wish if you can climb up to the non-existent 29th step – Wishing Stairs veered on the verge of a typical horror movie.

Except, in this instance, it’s a Korean version about the friendship and rivalry, along with some lesbian innuendos, between two ballerinas – So Hee (Park Han-byeol, who is a splitting image of the effervescent Jeon Ji-hyun of My Sassy Girl fame) and Jin Sung (Song Ji-hyo) in a girls’ school.

For reasons unknown, So Hee, the more talented of the two, clings on to Jin Sung as if she were her boyfriend (with utterance like “I want to be with you forever.”) despite the latter’s obvious jealousy of So Hee’s talent and the opportunity that presents itself as a result of that.

Not content to always being second best, Jin Sung decides to give wishing stairs a shot. True to form, her wish is granted. (In retrospect, the stairway probably had nothing to do with it. But I’m not going to be the party spoiler and reveal how Jin Sung sought to eliminate her competition.)

What happened next, however, is clear indication that things have gone awry. A previously overweight schoolmate (yes, she went up the stairs too), who had a crush on So Hee, was apparently possessed by the ghost of her affection and started to terrorise Jin Sung. Perhaps terrorise isn’t the right word to use. More often that not, she was just continuing to display So Hee’s affection for Jin Sung.

To make the whole situation a bit more hair-raising, there are the usual strange reflections in mirrors, blood spraying from the showerhead, and some random killings. At one point, the deceased So Hee was even seen climbing through the window a la Sadako in The Ring. The problem is, Wishing Stairs tries too hard to scare, unlike The Ring, which creeps you out slowly but surely. More disturbing is the display of affection and possessiveness by the teenage girls. Apparently, such emotions are pretty prevalent in Korea these days.

Like most Korean horror flicks (such as “Phone), Wishing Stairs is a tale of revenge and redemption. In Jin Sung’s case, her redemption came a tad too late.

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