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The fourth film in the series that was started when Whispering Corridors hit screens (known as The Girls High School Horror series) begins when a high school student named Young-uhn (Kim Ok-bin) stays late after class one day to practice her singing for music class. Her friend, Seon-min (Seo Ji-hye), waits for her but eventually leaves to head home for the day. Once Young-uhn is alone in the school, she starts to hear someone singing along with her and before you know it, she's laying there dead, her throat slit by a sheet of music.
Young-uhn wakes up the next morning not knowing that she's dead. As a ghost, she heads to school like she always does and becomes increasingly frustrated when she finds that no one is responding to her because they can't see or hear her – except for two people. Seon-min and another girl who works as a disc jockey for the school radio program can both hear Young-uhn, and they're soon joined by a third girl, Cho-ah (Cha Ye-rin), who is psychic and able to communicate with her.
Once the girls are able to get their heads around the fact that their former classmate is now a ghost, they set out to try and figure out just who killed her and, more importantly, why. Her murder seemed so random, but the more they look into things the more they find that there's something else at work in the school, something more sinister than any of them really realize.
Voice is a very mixed bag. It has a few serious strikes against it that hamper the plot and the pacing and as such, it's not really as strong as film as it could have been. The four lead actresses are okay, but nothing to write home about and the performances, while sufficient, aren't all that memorable. The pacing also lags pretty hard in a few scenes and as such, at times the movie feels overly long. The twist that happens at the end of the film is also fairly easy to figure out and the movie is extremely melodramatic in spots.
That being said, Voice is not a bad movie. For everything that it has going against it, it's got something working in its favor as well. The atmosphere that the filmmakers are able to conjure up for the movie is thick and at times quite tense. There are also a couple of really well handled set pieces in the film that are creepy as creepy can be (saying any more would truly be spoiling it so let that comment suffice). In addition to that, one of the first things you'll notice about the film right from the start is the score, which is truly haunting in spots. Despite the fact that the English subtitles don't translate the lyrics to the songs that are sung in certain spots, it doesn't hamper the raw emotion that comes through during these parts in the film. These characteristics do make a film that relies a little too heavily on tried and true cliches completely worth watching. You won't likely get a lot of replay value out of the movie, but it is definitely worth seeing once if you enjoyed the three movies that came before it (and those would be Whispering Corridors, Memento Mori, and Wishing Stairs - in that order).
Voice gets a very nice 1.85.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on this Korean import DVD. The brown hues in the school and classroom scenes look quite nice. There is a bit of over saturation in the reds in a couple of spots but it's minor. Black levels stay very strong and very deep throughout and there are no problems with mpeg compression artifacts at all, through there is some very mild line shimmering noticeable in a few spots. Print damage isn't ever an issue, neither is film grain and we have a nice, clean picture to look at on this release with plenty of detail present in both the foreground and the background of the picture.
You've got the option of watching the film in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound or in a DTS 5.1 Surround Sound mix, both of which are in the film's native Korean language. Optional subtitles are available in Korean and in English.
Both mixes do a great job bringing the dialogue to the forefront of the mix where it should be. The clarity of all of the performers is fine and you won't have any trouble hearing them speak, even during some of the more intense of complicated moments of the film. Where these mixes really excel is with the score. The music in this movie is an important part of the atmosphere and the story itself and they've really done a stand up job making sure that every note is crystal clear on this DVD. The background score and sound effects rise up nicely behind the dialogue and everything just builds into a wonderfully macabre musical crescendo during a few specific moments in the film. There's really not much to complain about here at all – both the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks are great.
The supplements on the first DVD are limited to two audio commentaries, neither of which are subtitled in English. One the first disc, there are two commentary tracks, both in Korean without any subtitles.
The rest of the supplements are on the second disc in the set in two segments, and again, they're all in Korean without any English subtitle options, making them rather difficult to evaluate. In the first segment, there's a making of documentary which pieces together some behind the scenes footage and interview footage to give us a look at the making of the movie. Next up is an interview with the director of the film. Moving right along, in the promo section we find two trailers for the film and a solitary television spot, all three of which make the movie look like more of a horror film than it really is.
In the second segment, there's a brief documentary on the sound effects and musical score, a second documentary that covers the opening credits and the CGI effects used throughout the movie, and finally, a music video.
While you can't fault a Korean market release for not including English subtitles on the extra features, it is a shame that with the wealth of bonus material on here that most of us in North America won't be able to follow them. Other than that though, despite the fact that Voice was rather average save for a few scenes, this DVD looks and sounds very nice and they have gone all out on the presentation. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.