Arang centers around a female detective named So Young who is always experiencing nightmares and apparently haunted by a tragedy in her past. She and her partner begin to investigate a series of bizarre murders where the victims seem to have been killed by an acid eating them from within. They each receive e-mails that plays a video showing them the site of the Salt storehouse where the murder took place nine years earlier. Soon the detectives are frantically scrambling to unlock the secrets of the past and to save the surviving partners. Cookie cutter plot, but Arang isn’t so typical with its approach. Fortunately, the ghost in the film wasn’t overused, and there are some great effective scenes within the hauntings.
What sets Arang apart from some of the films I’ve mentioned is the performances of the actors. Many times in movies, if the female lead is a detective, there seems to be an unwritten rule where she has to be over-the-top badass. Arang brings a more realistic appeal to the whole look & feel of the genre. Although, don’t get me wrong, this is an Asian Horror film featuring a long haired ghost, so there’s nothing here that you haven’t seen or heard before. Still, any decent image of a young white female revealing her pale, dead face from underneath her long, dark tresses of hair is going to have an element of creepiness to it. In these respects, I look at Arang as something of a work of art.
Some reviewers have felt that the middle section of the film is too boring, as it follows the progress of the investigation rather than serving up more spooky images of the dead young ghost. I didn’t really feel that way myself. This film has it’s supernatural overtones but is really a thriller-murder mystery and, in my opinion, a very good one. While Arang might have a little bit of an identity crisis, it still manages to be a pretty damn good flick, easily worth a rental, and a purchase for fans of Korean horror.
Small gripe, were the tiny plot holes sprinkled throughout in between scares. The only thing stranger than the detective knowing where to find an important clue is the question of what that clue was doing there in the first place. There is no attempt whatsoever to explain this. Like I said, this is a small nit pick because Arang is very different from most modern Asian horror as is the characterization on display throughout the story. Of all the long-haired ghost girl Asian films taking room up on my movie shelf, Arang is definitely one of the more interesting and fresh. Horror hounds should track this film down and give it a shot, as it comes recommended. Especially since this film was directed by a first-timer. Bravo!