Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kim Tae-woo, Kim Bo-kyung, Lee Dong-Kyu, Jin Goo
Written by: Jung Sik, Jung Bum-sik
Directed by: Jung Sik, Jung Bum-sik (The Jung Brothers)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Japanese, Korean, with English subtitles
Running Time: 101
Date: 08/01/2007

Epitaph (2008)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Once Morgue, with Feeling

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by first-timers the Jung Brothers (Jung Bum-Sik and Jung Sik), Epitaph is something refreshingly new in Japanese horror, though it does contain some of the old, familiar imagery. (The film does stoop to using one stringy-haired ghost girl.) Set in the 1940s, the film consists of three stories (told in flashback), all set in a Korean hospital and morgue. In the first one, a young doctor becomes obsessed with the body of a beautiful girl who committed suicide. Next up, we get the story of a little girl whose parents have died in a car crash; she keeps having horrific nightmares. Finally, a husband-and-wife team becomes involved in a series of grisly murders (hint: there's a ghost involved). The stories flow so smoothly that it was some time before I realized that the entire movie was occurring in flashback, and that, indeed, it was a triptych. Once things get going, however, the film's leaps through fragments of time become more and more effective. And the cinematography is undeniably gorgeous; I don't think I've seen a better-looking Asian horror film since maybe Kwaidan. They linger on many stirringly quiet moments and details, such as the dreamy doctor in the first episode watching the progress of a snail. TLA Releasing has distributed the 2009 DVD, with trailers and a photo gallery.

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