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AFI FEST 2005: THE RED SHOES

[THE RED SHOES screens again tomorrow - Friday - at 9:45 p.m.]

The rules of nouveau Asian horror are pretty much down to a template by now:

1. Asian kids are scarier than Caucasians, because they’re all, like, Asian-looking and that’s weird. Asian girls are scarier than Asian boys.

2….especially if they’re given white skin and dark eyes.

3…and even more so if hair is hanging over their eyes.

4…Single moms are especially susceptible to visions of scary Asian kids, in no small part because they have a tendency to choose horrible run-down haunted apartments in which to reside.

5. There will come a point when the single mom will figure everything out, and do what needs to be done to put the restless spirit at ease by giving it what it seems to want. Once this is done, everyone is really fucked, because the ghost is actually a bastard and totally not satisfied by anything you can do.

THE RED SHOES follows the above rules to the letter, although the shoes in question are actually pink, so who knows what that’s all about. It’s kind of like DARK WATER meets LORD OF THE RINGS, only with shoes instead of rings or water.

Press info on this is scant — I remember the little girl’s name is Tae-soo, because her mom yells it so many times. Other than that, forgive my lack of character name or actor info here, as even imdb is really scant as I write this.

So…Mom finds the pink shoes in the subway, and obsesses over them. Finds her husband cheating in her, and leaves. Li’l Tae-soo is pissed at mom, and becomes similarly obsessed with the shoes, to the point where they physically fight over them. A friend borrows them without asking, and ends up dead. The shoes are cursed, but what is the origin of the curse? And why can’t mom get rid of them?

There’s some nice style and decent scares here, but at a certain point, I just started wanting them to get on with it. Maybe because Korean woman are conditioned to be more passive, it takes a long time for our heroine to do anything about anything. And late in the game, there’s a development that causes us to lose a lot of sympathy for her, which doesn’t make it that suspenseful when a ghost comes after her — by then, I kinda wanted it to get her.

And the daughter’s annoying. Horror movies often depend upon kids not talking to their parents as a way to maintain mystery, but it’s starting to piss me off and making me root for the parents to slap the kid.

A very nice fake-out at the end gets props for being the first of its exact kind that I’ve ever seen.

Like every other reviewer I’ve seen, I liked parts of it quite a bit, but feel like the beats are awfully familiar.

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