When Voices first came on, I raised mine in protest: Not another Korean horror flick with plaid-shirted schoolgirls! Not another death-curse! Not another tale of two sisters! But then I quieted down and started watching. I quickly got hooked into this very unusual story.
The original name "Du Saram-Yida" translates to Someone Behind You, which is actually a more apropos title than the generic Voices for this creepy little supernatural thriller about how those one trusts can in fact out to be most untrustworthy… deadly, even.
As a victim of the perplexing viral curse, high-schooler Seok-min (Ki-woong Park) says: "Don't trust anyone. Not your friends, not your family, not even yourself." He tries to warn his classmate Ga-in (Jin-seo Yun), but it's to no avail. She soon finds herself spattered with gore and on the run from those who she thought loved her the most.
Ga-in gets her first inkling that something sinister is shadowing she and her family after her aunt is nearly killed on her wedding day, and then her other aunt comes into the hospital to finish the job. Stabbing the helpless victim repeatedly and with furious gusto and no apparent motive, once Auntie is caught she cannot explain why she did what she did.
After Ga-in's aunts are respectively put away (one underground, one behind lock and key), Ga-in's own mother tries to murder her with a kitchen knife, then she's attacked by her best friend, and her sister — terrified to her bone marrow, Ga-in turns to Seok-min. He explains that he's a fellow sufferer of this death spell, having watched his parents murder each other before his eyes… but can he be trusted?
Although Voices is cluttered with clichés — school setting, spiteful teachers and strange students, the obligatory seeking of wise council outside the city, and a head-spinner of a twist ending — I have to admit it never once failed to entertain and engage. Drama director Ki-hwan Oh does a good job of creating suspense while adding layers of depth to the protagonist. The relationship between the young sisters is believable, as the two actresses are natural and likeable. The movie is hardly realistic when it comes to human behavior and psychology in the face of this unexplainable cycle of horror, but the taut rhythm is such that style beats out substance.
There's some shoddy effects (particularly the "ageing" makeup on one of the characters) and a bit of dodgy CGI, but on the other hand the above-par acting helps sell some of the more brutal and gory death scenes (not sure what I mean by "more gory" since they're all drenched in the red). The filmmakers behind Voices apparently never heard the old saying "less is more", which is a good thing in this case.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson