If you have never given foreign horror a look, you should. There are many genre-bending titles out there that will give even the heartiest of horror fans a nice treat. One of my most recent favorites is HORROR STORIES, a slick Korean anthology that entertains on many levels. This collection of horror shorts is not perfect but it is a lot of fun and chocked full of scares and gore.
If you are not familiar with HORROR STORIES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Artsploitation Films:
Horror anthologies might be everywhere these days, but the Korean entry Horror Stories raises the bar with four terrifying stories (and a nail-biting wraparound tale), each one chilling enough to be its own feature. If you thought this was going to be a tame collection of teen-friendly “ghost girl” stories – think again. Horror Stories goes right for the jugular with non-stop splatter, intense shocks and riveting suspense. A high school girl is abducted and forced by a psycho to tell him the scariest tales she knows:
* “Don’t Answer the Door” finds a little brother and sister home alone at night and under siege.
* “Endless Flight” has a serial killer escaping police custody in the middle of an otherwise empty flight.
* “Secret Recipe” serves up a wildly macabre fairy tale about two jealous stepsisters who take plastic surgery to nightmarish extremes.
* “Ambulance on the Death Zone” is a claustrophobic zombie shocker with a paramedic and a mother at a standoff over her possibly infected young daughter.
An international genre festival success from Sitges to Fantasia, this is one of the best Korean horror films in years and has been called “one of the scariest Asian horror anthologies of the 21st century” (horror-movies.ca).
As mentioned, this film is an anthology of four short films that are a subset of the primary plot. This setup is similar to V/H/S, in that the shorts have nothing to do with the main story but they are an integral part of how it progresses. I like this format when it is well done, as is the case with HORROR STORIES.
I mentioned that this anthology is not perfect and here is why: a couple of the stories insinuate several things but don’t exactly explain what is going on. Case-in-point is the first story, “Don’t Answer the Door”. This film is very clever and leaves you with a cold feeling at the end, however the twist it takes about three-fourths of the way through is confusing. I had to pause the film and think about it for a minute to make sure I understood what was happening. I had to piece a couple of far-reaching things together but in the end I got it. I enjoyed this one, but I feel like it should have been done differently.
Still, HORROR STORIES is a wickedly good horror gem that you should not miss. My favorite tale is “Ambulance on the Death Zone”. Putting aside the fact that it deals with my favorite horror topic (zombies), it is also extremely intense and kept me nervous while I watched it. I was even fidgety because of my nerves! That says quite a bit, as I am no youngster nor rookie when it comes to horror.
HORROR STORIES is a definite win for me and I recommend it to anyone looking for original horror. Some folks might not like the fact that it is in Korean with English subtitles (there is no English dub-over), but that is only a minor issue that should be quickly overlooked. The film is available now, so check it out.