Dont you just hate the sound of a ringing phone? That unrelenting nagging, pleading for you to pull yourself away from whatever you were doing and answer it, regardless of the consequences...
Young reporter Ji-Won (Ha Ji-won) has just completed a series of articles on a sex scandal, resulting in several arrests and indictments, so now shes waiting for the inevitable backlash. To avoid harassment she changes her phone number and borrows a big old house in the countryside from her girlfriend Chang-Hoon (Choi Woo-je), to get away from everything and start writing a novel.
Chang-Hoon, her perfect husband and her perfect little daughter, look like they are the happiest family in the world.
Ji-Won has barely settled in before her laptop computer starts to act funny. The screen goes blank and four numbers appear on the screen. Then her phone rings again. As it happens Chang-Hoons daughter Young-Joo picks it up, but theres only a strange screeching sound on the other end of the line. The little girl screams, and from then on, shes a different person. Suddenly she starts to act violently as if shes possessed. She also develops an intense attraction to her father.
Ji-Won realizes that somethings completely wrong with this perfect family. Someone or something is affecting the little girl, and soon it becomes obvious that theres some dark secret buried deep in this familys past. A secret that will put everybody at risk. Especially Ji-Won...
I saw this film for one single reason: Beautiful young K-actress Ha Ji-won! After seeing her in Sex in Zero and Slave Love I decided to pick up this thriller, despite warnings that it was really just a cheap The Ring knockoff. And while it is that - a The Ring knockoff - its nowhere near as cheap as I expected.
Phone doesnt bring anything new to the scene. If youve seen The Ring or Ju-on (from now on referred to as The Scary Duo), you pretty much know whats coming at every turn.
Most of the scares have been done before, but they havent been done that much better. Phone easily holds its own against The Scary Duo in terms of the technical quality of the scares. I mean, they work, they really do. Im sure that if youre a newcomer to Asian horror films, you will be reduced to a little gooey blob hiding underneath the sofa after watching this film. Seasoned Asian horror fans, on the other hand, will be hard pressed not to glance at the watch once or twice during the film.
The film has a consistently pleasing look, with some gorgeous cinematography that elevates the film just a notch.
Naturally the finale is more than a little preposterous, but thats to be expected. Apparently nobody in Asia watched Scream, because it seems that the teens in Asian horror movies make the exact same mistakes that teens everywhere have always made. You know, checking out a strange noise and stuff like that! Even the most dim-witted teen should know the basic rules of survival in a horror film by now, but I guess it wouldnt be any fun, if everybody actually followed them.
Ha Ji-won plays very well in the lead, plus shes so beautiful. The film is a great showcase for her acting talents, and her stunning face looks good even in the most dubious horror movie lighting. Deep sigh (Note to self: pick up all other Ji-won films I can get my hands on).
The little girl who plays Young-Joo also performs very well. Shes seriously creepy! I was amazed at how versatile this little actress was. One moment shes sweet and gentle, a poster-image child if I ever saw one, but then her face contorts and an Exorcist-like little devil girl is suddenly standing right in front of us! Very effective.
Phone is a decent, but unremarkable thriller. Without redefining or adding to the genre in any way, it nonetheless manages to serve up a solid piece of Asian horror. Most people will have had their fill by now, but there are always those who arrive at the party fashionably late and clean the plates. Folks like that are in for a treat.