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Horror anthologies might be everywhere these days, but the Korean entry Horror Stories raises the bar with four terrifying stories (and a nail-biting wraparound tale), each one chilling enough to be its own feature. If you thought this was going to be a tame collection of teen-friendly "ghost girl" stories - think again. Horror Stories goes right for the jugular with non-stop splatter, intense shocks and riveting suspense. A high school girl is abducted and forced by a psycho to tell him the 4 scariest tales she knows.
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The second short about a killer escaping on a plane is also very good, although some parts may be a bit predictable. Still, the suspense is good enough to keep you guessing and the characters play their parts well as either likable or easy to hate.
The third story is so over the top you would think it would be implausible but it's not. Two sisters are fighting to win the same man and they will go to some pretty major extremes to make it happen. Although the characters are drawn from very simple good vs. bad cloth, the story will keep you guessing on how it will end and the unpredictability of it gives you a nice sense of suspense to enjoy.
The fourth story has to be the best and what a way to end a movie! Zombies,a mother and an ambulance-what a great combination. I truly felt like I was there and the story line gave me goosebumps more than once as I imagined what it would feel like to be on this particular ride.
The wrap around story has its own share of horror and scares and I doubt it will disappoint. I have to say this is the best horror anthology I've seen in a long time as all four stories and the wrap around are strong in scares and tension is palpable. I loved the V/H/S movies but only one or two of their stories could reach this level of fear. I can't wait to see part II.
The movie can be compared to the way Twilight Zone the Movie was made, or even the Creepshow films. By that I mean, there is one central story occurring, while other stories are told in the background. That format usually works well, but in this case, it left me wanting more from the two stories I found the most interesting.
The most intriguing one being the lead tale, which is about a Korean School girl who wakes up in a shady room where she finds herself bound and gagged. She soon notices a silent psychopath who asks her to tell him a scary story so he can sleep. That premise pulls you in right away and was the most interesting concept to me. I wish the film could've elaborated on that central theme more. But as it turns out, the rest of the movie involves her telling him four scary tales to keep him at bay. As long as she can tell him a scary story, she's safe. And the film shifts back to them as the film progresses.
As for the other four stories, my favorite would have to be the first tale about two children, who are left home alone while their mother is out working one evening. The whole latchkey child premise worked well for me. It was believable in terms of the way children can be in that situation. And the horror that follows was interesting, scary and well explained by the end. It was also the least graphic of the four stories.
The second tale involved a serial killer who is captured by police and is transported on a plane with a small crew and two police officers. Overall the tale was good, and the guy who plays the killer, did his part to make the story suspenseful. A crazy guy on a plane can be pretty terrifying since you have no place to go.
The next tale involved two sisters and a materialistic mother who scheme to get one of the daughters married off to the "president" of somewhere. Whether it's the president of a company or if he was supposed to be the president of S. Korean, I couldn't tell. But the tale definitely adds some horror, with cannibalism of all things. It wasn't my favorite tale. I felt like it needed more time to be developed. I got the general reason for the rivalry between the sisters. But it seemed like a story that would have benefitted from a longer format. It reminded me of a twisted J-Horror story. Kind of like Tales of Terror from Tokyo.
The same could be said about the last tale, which involves a virus and a very turbulent ambulance ride. I have to admit the tension that follows involves horror, but it's shoved into a box. It could have been developed a lot further also. But as it is, you get some scares while understanding the reason for the circumstances that the characters are in. Kind of reminiscent of an end of the world zombie film.
The strongest gem overall though is when we come back to the school girl and her captor. That's the story where you're really waiting to see what happens next. It finally comes to a conclusion and you'll just have to watch it for yourself to see how it plays out.
As for the tech aspects, the film is in Korean only with English subtitles. There are also some interesting interviews with some of the cast members, along with a few trailers of other films that didn't really peak my interest. These extras were on the DVD version. I doubt they would be accessible on the Amazon Prime version.
In the end, I gave the film a four. It had some good scares in it and I thought the actors did a good job with their roles. I would have liked to have seen more with the girl and her captor in general, but that's not what the film was about. It was a Korean version of horror shorts. So you have to take it for what it is. It definitely had a different flavor to it than J-Horror films. Overall a good rental if you like K-Horror stories or Horror Anthologies in general.