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Death Bell (2008)

  Tags: Asian Horror, Beom Kim, Beom-soo Lee, death bell, Director Chang, Eol Lee, ghosts, Gyoo-ri Nam, Jeong-hee Yoon, korean, Na-yeon Han, slasher, south korea

Your rating: None Average: 6.5 (2 votes)
Reviewer Rating: 
6

deathbell.jpg
Rating #: 
6/10
Director: 
Director Chang
Runtime: 
85 minutes
Cast: 
Beom-soo Lee, Jeong-hee Yoon, Gyoo-ri Nam, Beom Kim, Na-yeon Han, Eol Lee


South Korea seems to pump out a new horror film every week in the country and it's no surprise that there are some films that are just a bunch of horror flicks jammed together. Case-in-point, Death Bell, a movie that suffers an identity crises right to the very end, but somehow still manages to entertain the viewer regardless. The story is a mix of various sub-genres and recent movies, with Saw being the more prominent for me, just without all the excess gore and lengthy torture.

The film starts off as a supernatural effort, with students in a prestigious high school seeing strange happenings around campus. This is where the standard long-haired ghosty makes it appearance a few times to give the characters and us viewers cheap scares. Things take a strange turn 20-minutes in when the story focuses on a group of "elite" students, who go to school during the weekend to take part in some uber-testing. Unbeknownst to them, the testing will be a series of puzzles shown to them via a television screen in the classroom that (if unanswered within certain time) will cause the death of a student. Sound familiar?

Yes, the movie takes a Saw-ish turn as we witness one student after the other somehow get kidnapped and put in front of a camera with some new death-device. These smarty-pants students must figure out the next math or English puzzle before time's up. Just when you think the movie has settled on a certain sub-genre, out of nowhere, it becomes a slasher. Someone close to the students is offing them one by one, but who could it be? Sadly, I was able to guess who the knife-wielding foe was before it was actually shown, leaving the final reveal a bit underwhelming, especially when it came to the roll-your-eyes twist ending.

Aside from the identity crises, the movie was fairly decent. The kills were bloody, and the premise was interesting, but there were times when I felt certain scenes dragged on a bit too long. Funny-enough, the running time is actually 30-minutes shorter than the standard South Korean flick, which proves even more that the script needed work.

The film starts off as a ghost flick, which turns into a semi-torture feature and ends up as a standard who-done-it slasher. It clearly suffers from an identity crises, but still kept me entertained from the start. Check this if you're a fan of South Korean horror, otherwise, skip it.

Posted on September 30, 2009 - 6:25pm | FrighT MasteR

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