I Hate School: Whispering Corridors (1998)
This landmark horror film from South Korea, along with the Japanese film Ringu--also released in 1998--basically started the new Asian horror boom. Corridors deals with a series of mysterious “suicides” at a high school for girls that are believed to be caused by a malevolent ghost, a former student who died years earlier in one of the rooms. Though low on actual scares, director Park Ki-hyung has crafted a superb character-driven story that packs an emotional wallop while generating plenty of creeping dread. Much of the film’s power stems from its claustrophobic location and the frequently horrific ordeals that the young female students have to endure—everything from sexual harassment by teachers to demeaning verbal abuse to outright physical violence. In many ways, the terror that the ghost inflicts upon the student body and faculty is nothing compared to what the girls must suffer through at the hands of their teachers. The film, which eventually spawned two loose sequels—1999’s Memento Mori and Wishing Stairs from 2003--is now available in this country on DVD and is a perfect introduction for those of you who still haven’t had the pleasure to enter into the strange and surreal world of Asian horror.