The year is 1938. Young Korean girl Ju-Ran arrives to a remote boarding school. She is sickly and unlikable and is not accepted by her classmates, until one of the girls shows her kindness and becomes her friend. Together they try to unravel the mysterious happenings at the school. Are the ghosts to blame for the disappearance of their classmates, or something else, even more sinister is going on?
Like many Korean films THE SILENCED is a bit of a genre blend, with gothic motives prevailing, it starts as a coming of age drama with a mystery twist, and succumbs by its end to a full range mayhem the type seen in Carrie.
This movie is all about style: the costumes, the details, the surrounding - all dreamlike and fascinating. The photography is stunning and every frame is a pleasure to look at. The atmosphere is also spot on, and the menace lurking in the air is almost delicious. Building the anticipation to something staggering to be revealed in the end, the film;s explanation for the “supernatural” is a little disappointing, but done right.
The characters are well defined. The friendship between the two abandoned girls, which is the focus of the film, is touchingly authentic. But the real reason to watch THE SILENCED is Um Ji-won as a headmaster. She commands every scene she is in and her enigmatic smile is as beautiful as it is psychotic. Her performance defines a perfect thin line between charm and insanity.
THE SILENCED has one problem - it is not at all scary, and while it will stir your emptions and make you care, it is hard to find much suspense here. Targeted at a younger audience, THE SILENCED is an engaging ride, but is too timid for a horror movie.