Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Two Moons (두 개의 달) (2012)

Two Moons is what you get when the mystery and horror genres get crossed in a most unholy union

The renaissance of horror film in the late 1990s (The Ring, The 6th Sense and their pretenders) rests on the conceit that horror can be a sub-set of the mystery genre. If we know precisely why that thing is haunting us, we have a chance of saving ourselves as well as that thing. Even though 9 times out of 10, it’s not enough to save us.

Two Moons wrenches apart the 2 halves of the horror-mystery genre, scrambles them, and stitches them back together like a Frankenstein’s monster. The result is a locked room mystery with supernatural elements. Our cast (and suspects) find themselves waking up in a locked cellar in a cabin in the woods and need to find out who put them there and why everyone feels like they’re about to get killed by malevolent ghosts. And since this is more classic locked room mystery than a horror film, who’s the secret murderer (and probably malevolent ghost) in their midst. And everyone’s a suspect since they’re all equally dodgy and paranoid.

As you may well guess, Two Moons doesn’t quite play out like any horror film or murder mystery you’ve seen or read. That’s the good thing. There is sufficient familiarity with the genre for audiences to know roughly what’s happening, yet enough genre cross-talk and static to keep audiences on the edge. That’s sorely needed because like most horror (Asian or otherwise) these days, Two Moons isn’t frightening at all. From the obviously telegraphed soundtrack to the glimpses of pale figures floating across the background of the screen, all the horror elements in Two Moons serve as red herrings in its mystery plot. Given how unfrightening horror has become in the past decade, it’s not entirely a bad thing to see unfrightening horror being put to use for a greater purpose.

Does the film work in the end? The surfeit of red herrings and the constant barrage of plot twists—timed to a mathematical precision that is necessary for horror, mystery, and even comedy—are enjoyable when you watch the film as a murder mystery. While the horror conventions the film references seem perfunctory and tacked on at times, the ending does save this lesser of the film.

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