The Red Shoes (2005)

Rating: C

Dir: Kim Yong-Gyun
Star: Kim Hye-Su, Park Yeon-ah, Kim Seong-su, Go Su-hee

While I can’t deny the fine visual style this owns, it’s damned by an almost total lack of originality. Even if this is the first Asian horror film you’ve seen, you’ll be reminded of Western remakes like The Grudge and Dark Water – anyone more familiar with the genre will be able to tick off the inspirations for virtually every plot point as they crop up. The McGuffin here is a pair of high-heeled shoes, first seen lying on a subway platform, and it soon becomes clear that anyone who wears them risks a terrible fate. Their next owner is Sun Jae (Kim Hye-Su), who just left her cheating husband, taking their little girl with her. However, as her daughter and best friend become obsessed with the footwear, she discovers the curse tied to them, that now threatens to destroy her life.

Oh, look: a dark-haired ghost girl lurks in a corner of the elevator. I think that was when I realised the script had turned out its pockets as far as originality went, surviving on fluff, three pennies and an elderly boiled sweet; it wheezed its way from there towards a final revelation that failed to shock. Viewed as some kind of “Greatest Hits” package, you’ll be less disappointed since, as noted, it looks lush. Credit overall to cinematographer Kim Tae-gyung, and there are some good set-pieces – the one I remember most involves a shattered plate-glass window and plays out in excruciating length. You may also be distracted by the fact that the titular shoes are pink, rather than red, but I believe the Hans Christian Anderson tale which loosely inspired this, is known as “Pink Shoes” in Korean. That’s the most interesting, certainly the most original thing about this flawed effort.