The film "Locks of Love" doesn't want you to see.
It's fitting that an Asian horror film centralize its scares around haunted hair. After all, it is the tradition of long-haired Japanese female ghosties that spawned the seemingly never ending trend of supernatural fright flicks dominating Asian territories since the original Ring's release.
Ji-hyun (Seon Yu- Uninvited) takes in her sister Soo-hyun (Min-Seo Chae- Champion), who is dying of terminal cancer. Having recently broken up with her fiance and lost her voice in an accident, Ji-hyun wants to live with her sister as many days, weeks, months, etc that she can until the disease worsens. Naturally, it makes for an uncomfortable and sad situation, but things only get worse when Soo-hyun starts wearing a wig that is cursed.
The wig in question brings out the typical haunted object possession and personality change in its wearer. Soo-hyun gets some color in her cheeks, that spark of life, but she also becomes more devilish and the hallucinations and bodies begin to pile up.
The first reaction when you observe the words "haunted wig" is probably a knee jerk assumption of silliness. It would seem the only route you could go for with such a cartoonish premise. Then add terminal cancer to the mix and it seems impossible to make a middle of the road horror film. Its either got to be flat out silly or a very straight-faced threnody.
For most of its running time, the Korean horror film The Wig (2005) definitely goes for the serious. Extremely serious. No crack of a smile. No wink. It wraps itself in the glum plotline and carries itself with a leaden, depressing weight. Being too melancholy is going to be a matter of taste. Your average, casual viewing horror fan will probably think it is quite a slog. I found that the scares and chills were dulled by the films dedication to a grave and miserable tone.
Just as the scares start to be effective and it looks like The Wig is actually going to be a horror film instead of a chick flick drama, the film shifts into an all too conventional and very rushed third act. Having dropped no hints at the source of the curse, the film is forced to dive into detective mode with Ji-hyun wandering into ye' ol' abandoned wig factory and we get a very lame explanation and a flat out depressing finale.
You cannot really blame the actors. Given the script and Won Shin-yuen's direction, the leads are expected to stare off most of the time and silently mope (and not just because one of the two main leads is mute). The scripting haphazardly tries to balance its dramatic premise with genre scares and it really feels like both aspects got lost along the way and neither gels. They could have made an effective arthouse horror like Sorum or a knowingly b-level, bump in the night thriller, but in aiming for both it just ends up a scattershot, average bit of disposable horror.
The DVD: Genius Products. First of all, while the film does have some grue, the US cover sells it as some kind of spatter film. A big "BOO!" for that kind of dumbed down horror marketing.
Anamorphic Widescreen. Good pic. Very tight production, clean print, with some slick cinematography. No surprise The Wig aims for a standard of modern horror, dark tones, cool color schemes, and heavy emphasis of cold grays. Contrast is nice and deep with good levels. Technically appeared fairly smooth with no glaring transfer artifacts.
5.1 Surround, Korean language with optional English subtitles. Good audio track with a responsive mix that utilizes another typical horror trick, the jump scare fx/soundtrack boom. Subtitles were nicely translated and well-timed.
Three Featurettes: Making of (19:34), Special Features (10:20), and Behind the Scenes (9:01). Serviceable round of docs. Nothing particularly revealing.
The Wig combines some supernatural shenanigans with a very dour dramatic premise. The film doesn't totally work but it is, at the very least, interesting in how those ill formed pieces don't quite fit together. Worth a casual glance for Asian horror fans.