Combat zones provide fertile ground not just for straight war movies, but also for supernatural tales. Witness Rob Green’s ‘The Bunker’ (2001), Michael J Bassett’s ‘Deathwatch’ (2002) and George Hickenlooper’s underrated 1993 movie ‘The Killing Box’ (aka ‘Ghost Brigade’). Set in 1972, during the Vietnam War, this slow-burning South Korean ghost story generates an atmosphere of unease, which slides inexorably towards fear and dread. When mysterious radio transmissions are received from a platoon that has been missing for months, hard-boiled lieutenant Choi Tae-In (Kam Woo-Sung) is despatched with a ragtag unit of soldiers to R-Point, a non-combat zone on a remote island. There is no sign of Vietcong activity or of the missing men, but gravestones mark the site of an earlier Chinese massacre of Vietnamese locals. An inscription warns that no one who has shed blood will leave this place alive. Holed up in a derelict French-built hotel, now used as a supply dump by an American patrol they encounter briefly, the spooked soldiers receive ghostly visitations and further radio transmissions, this time from a French patrol. The terrified cries on the radio create static amongst the group, who turn on one another as panic sets in. Director Kong Su-Chang’s low-key ghost story relies on character inter-action, creepy moments and a sense of psychological disintegration, rather than the horror movie staples of manipulative shock-cuts and special effects. Quietly and subtly effective, it is like a creeping mist that wreathes itself around one’s mind. Unsurprisingly, it is already scheduled to be re-made in Hollywood, by Zhang Yimou, director of ‘House of Flying Daggers’ and ‘Hero’.
|Release date:||Friday September 16 2005|
Cast and crew