Halloween has arrived a week early as this week’s Film Friday features White: The Melody of the Curse. It’s an intrusive vision into the world of K-Pop within the constructs of a paranormal horror film. T-ara member Eunjeong stars in this 2011 horror as a star of fictional four member girl group ‘Pink Dolls’.
Seeking popularity by ranking as number one on popular music shows, Pink Dolls discover an unreleased, unclaimed VHS tape featuring a song and choreography that instantly propels them to number one. Once they’re sitting comfortably at the top spot, they begin to plummet. One by one they fall victim to the curse and the spot for main vocal becomes vacant. Success comes at a very, very heavy price.
Directed and written by twins Gok Kim and Son Kim, White: The Melody of the Curse differentiates itself from ‘slasher horror’ as it focuses on the inner torment and thrusts the flaws of the characters to the surface. That’s the most unnerving part. If you have a good knowledge of the K-Pop scene, the films proves to be effective in delivering the true torments and injustice commonly associated with the industry. One of the members is addicted to plastic surgery and this theme is frequently referenced.
The film is insightful as it exposes the sheer horrors of the K-Pop industry by embellishing the flaws within the constructs of a horror movie. For any K-Pop fan, this film is reminiscent of your bias group’s debut or their struggle to win that first trophy at a music show. The horror convention of this film can be described through the horrors of the music industry which makes it more sad than scary. Protagonist, Eun-joo (Eunjeong) is the oldest member and leader of Pink Dolls. She struggles to keep the bond between the girls tight and connected, the other members disrespect and torment her creating an unsettling friction in the group.
Typically, the Asian horror genre is dominated by ghostly, long-haired female figures that haunt and torment their victims. Although this is another example of depicting that stereotypical horror convention, the originality is much more compelling and haunting. The subtle scenes of terror create a perfect amount of horror without being too exaggerated and silly.
The twist at the end of the film came unexpectedly. Korean horror, specifically, should be applauded by the understating of what the audience wants and how to conduct a successful mystery-thriller concept by throwing its audience completely off track. If you know somebody who claims to predict twists in horror films, show them White: The Melody of the Curse and watch them falter and squirm as they try to predict the end.
The film is extremely well-paced as it keeps the characterisation steady and relevant. The narrative positions the audience perfectly by creating significant disposition first and throwing in the horror later. The suspense is brilliant as the tension is emphasised both within the group and within themselves.
White: The Melody of the Curse needs to be appreciated as an unconventional approach of a horror film that not only ticks all the boxes but creates its own conventions. The terror is executed through the mental deterioration of the characters and the lack of exaggerated ‘jumpy’ moments makes for a disturbing and unnerving horror.