Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Film Review: Memento Mori (1999)

Memento Mori (Review)
South Korea/1999
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

In an all-girls high school, Soh Min-ah finds a diary written by fellow students, Yoo Shi-eun and Min Hyo-shin, who happen to be in a romantic relationship. Due to the bullying, Yoo Shi-eun and Min Hyo-shin's relationship begins to crumble, causing Hyo-shin to commit suicide. As Soh Min-ah reads deeper into the diary, strange events begin to occur in the school.

Memento Mori is a sad and effective supernatural story. The relationships between characters are fleshed out and authentic. The discussions - some very humorous - the students have feel real and natural, which adds to the immersion; it's not cliché or stereotypical "girl" talk. The supernatural aspects of the film are subtle and tamed yet they manage to be creepy and spine-tingling, effectively avoiding over-the-top appearances. The ending of this film is chilling. However, the nonlinear story can be hard to follow. The film jumps often from character to character, and into different events/times; a transition that feels like a flashback may not actually be for a flashback. If you're fully immersed, you should be able to follow the film, though.

The acting is great in the film. The characters feel like they are actually students and they've been friends for a long time; the actors share great chemistry. The film is light on special effects, which is very welcomed; no pale skin or long black hair in this film. The editing - particularly some of the transitions - often hurts the film's storytelling, as previously mentioned.

Overall, Memento Mori works very well as a supernatural drama with horror elements. Some of the very spooky scenes, and the compelling story make this film very effective; you might not be completely frightened, but you'll definitely be compelled. I recommend a purchase for fans of the drama/horror genre, a rental otherwise.

Score: 7/10

Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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