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A Blood Pledge [DVD]
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South Korean horror. After her sister Eon-ju (Kyeong-ah Jang) commits suicide by jumping from the roof of her school building, Jeong-eon (Shin-ae Yu) chooses to investigate the unexpected incident further. Speaking to three of her sister's friends she is told that the four girls had previously made a suicide pact and that Eon-ju was the only one to fully commit. But now that the other girls have abandoned their friend and cheated the pledge, Eon-ju has come back from beyond the grave to make them pay...
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'A Blood Pledge' tells of a suicide pact between a group of high school friends in which only one of them goes through with it. I'm not spoiling anything here as this context is established after just a couple of minutes.
What follows is the investigation of the dead girl's sister, who tries to find answers against a brick wall of silence from the rest of the group. As the film pans out we learn more of the back story of each of the other 'pledgers' and what brought them to there current mental states.
As you'd expect from a Korean horror flick the scares are well delivered - if anything there are a few too many and as such the tension levels never really reach the heights of some of the better known offerings (A Tale of Two Sisters, The Grudge etc). That said, all of the elements are there to make 'A Blood Pledge' a very decent, if a little lightweight horror tale. (Acting, plot, characterisation etc are all fine).
If I'm being honest it is at times a little difficult to work out who's who and how they all linked together; especially given the breakneck pace that Korean teenagers seem to talk at! Once I'd got my head around everything, I really quite enjoyed this film. 'A Blood Pledge' isn't a classic, but at the same time it's find to find fault really, so I'd happily recommend that Asian horror fans take a look.
Just as a side note, where are all the teachers in Korean schools?!
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Beyond that, though, is a tale about how school girl betrayal is no joke and how everyone has a story to tell, and it might not be the one you think it is. You can find this film streaming online if you look for it, but it is good enough that, like the rest of the series, I wanted to have a copy. Recommend.
The story is very simple and easy-to-follow - the easiest in the series. The story begins with a vivid suicide - a student jumping from a school building. Rumors of foul play and broken relationships begin to spread. While Yoo-jin and Joo-yeon try to hide the truth, So-Hee suffers from the loss of a close friend - ironically she's accused of murder and bullying. The mystery, the horror, and the drama all lead up to a chilling yet bittersweet ending (as with most, if not all, of the Whispering Corridors series.) The horror elements in this film are very blatant - it's not subtle or atmospheric horror. A Blood Pledge uses some violence, plenty of jump-scares, and a blood-drenched ghost to deliver the scares. I like the fact that the ghost is used so strongly this time around, definitely a welcomed change in the formula. However, I do miss the dense, terrifying atmosphere of the past entries. It simply doesn't feel like a genuine haunting without the atmosphere of the previous entries.
The acting was great from the entire cast; everything feels like an authentic school. This is the bloodiest entry in the series (bloody clothing, bloody eyes, etc.) The special effects are well-done - from the ghostly makeup to the brutal suicides. Cinematography was solid, exceptional during a few scenes; it was a lot better in Voice. The music was great. The film also had a fast, consistent pace and a short runtime making this an efficient time-killer.
Overall, A Blood Pledge is the purest (as in, easiest to identify and traditional) horror film in the Whispering Corridors (next to Wishing Stairs). It uses some light drama elements and some effective jump-scares and tension to create a frightening experience. It's a great way to kill a night, especially if you're a fan of Asian horror. I recommend a purchase for fans of the genre or the series, a rental otherwise.
A Blood Pledge has strong violence and blood.