Sunday, September 16, 2012

Scary or Die – review

Director: Igor Meglic (section Taejung’s Lament)

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

Scary or Die is a rubbish name, however it was not a rubbish film. It is a portmanteau where five separate stories overlap casually as they are watched on a video web site called (actually the film’s homepage). Even the portmanteau section is connected to the other sections.

Of the other sections, The Crossing is an unusually framed zombie tale that I thought might have been rubbish, as it started, but had a nice little twist. Re-Membered is a tale of necromancy, Clowned involves flesh eating clowns and Lover Come Back is a short little voodoo piece.

Charles Rahi Chun as Taijung
The section we are interested in is entitled Taejung’s Lament and begins with Taejung (Charles Rahi Chun) in a bar. He leaves, perhaps looking a little too long at a girl who is kissing another man. The man’s hackles raise but, ultimately, there is no harm in Taejung. He walks drunkenly home, calling in a flower shop to buy a rose. At home he replaces a dead rose at the shrine to his wife. Taejung lives in an emotional twilight as his wife’s shade looks sadly on at the lover who cannot let go.

tracking the kidnapper
Indeed we see that he obsesses, from a distance, over women he sees but it almost seems like he sees his wife in them and he is almost a ghost himself. Watching the world go by. As he sits on a bench at night he sees three women pass by; one of them, Min-ah (Alexandra Choi), looks to him and smiles. Suddenly a man (Azion Lemekeve) jumps out, chloroforms Min-ah and (as her friends flee) bundles her into a minivan. Taejung rushes to help and is smacked down by the man. He puts his iPhone inside the vehicle’s petrol cap before it drives off and then tracks it via his laptop.

on the verge of stabbing
He eventually tracks the minivan, which is being carjacked by a couple of gangbangers who chase Taejung away. He sees the man in the distance, carrying Min-ah towards a flood-control channel. We cut to him on the channel, about to stab the woman in the chest. Taejung knocks the man out with a rock, rescuing the girl. He walks her home, his jacket round her shoulders, and begs her to go to the police. She can’t, however, as she is an illegal immigrant – though she feels she has been in LA for eternity. She is being bundled into her house by her friends when she gives Taejung his jacket back and a note, inviting him to a party.

Min-ah's nature is revealed
He does attend but the party is lacking in guests, there is Min-ah and several girls who surround him seductively and – not surprisingly – Minah produces fangs… Meanwhile we see the staff up to the apartment door dead, all staked. We see the man and, when he gets to the apartment, we see him put a bag down containing stakes and garlic and decorated with the name Van Helsing (of course Min-ah is Mina). The screen goes dark and there is sound of slaying before we cut to the next story.

Van Helsing's bad
The film doesn’t do anything particularly new with the genre – bar the transposition of elements of Dracula into a Korean/US setting – but the section was really quite pleasing. This was down to the air of melancholia that director Igor Meglic installed into the sequence. We genuinely feel for Taejung a living spector who emotionally died with his love and desperately seeks life again.

Van Helsing's handy work
The actual film as a whole worked rather well, I thought, especially for what seemed a fairly low budget portmanteau flick. It was rather left-field in places (especially Clowned) but this worked well adding a bizarreness crawling just under the skin of Los Angeles. The interlocking elements helped the film weave around the viewer. The score, however, is for the vampire section only. 6 out of 10 for the atmosphere and for the character Taejung himself.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review, Taliesin! I have a weekly contest with some of my coworkers from DISH to see who can come up with the best/worst B movie of the week. When I saw the cover of this movie I knew I had a winner. I just added it to the top of my Blockbuster @Home rental queue and it should be here before this weekends gathering. I hope its better than VHS, the last horror anthology I watched.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Edgar Allen... as I mentioned, I was impressed with this one (and you're right, given the cover...)

V/H/S hasn't yet made it over to Blighty, so I can't comment, but I did like the pace of the vampire segment and the main character's melancholy.

Let me know what you think :)