By Tay Yek Keak
THIS Korean horror movie is the third instalment in a series of schoolgirl scare flicks after Whispering Corridors and Whispering Corridors 2. Compared with the earlier two, Wishing Stairs is the most complete horror tale so far.
The show adds this time, to the series' trademark setting of classrooms, creepy corridors and female dormitories, a mirrored ballet room in which two girls, best pals and rivals, play out the deadly drama.
The better dancer, So Hee (Park Han Byeol), favourite to nab a dancing competition, hugs her friend with condescending fondness.
She, Jin Sung (Song Ji Hyo), jealous and tired of playing second fiddle, seeks to win instead. So, invoking a schoolgirl fairy tale, she makes a wish on a mysterious 29th step in a flight of stairs to disrupt the natural order. The result, as expected, is a ghostly unveiling with deathly consequences.
The build-up here is terrific but Wishing Stairs falls apart when the going gets spooky, using standard Japanese horror devices a la ghost in the mirror, scares in the dark and blood in the shower. And you wonder why the poor haunted girl, Jin Sung, keeps running into the creepiest of places.
What is interesting here is the show's knowing understanding of the chick psyche. There is a subtext of latent lesbianism amid its themes of girly crushes, infatuation, isolation and peer cruelty.
The girls, pretty and compelling, are, as in so many Korean movies, wonderfully natural actors.