Film Review: Creepy but Formulaic “The Ghost Station”

the ghost station 2022 film movie poster one sheetSeoul, South Korea has an enormous underground transit system featuring 23 routes, 180 miles of underground rail lines, and 300 stations. But what if one of those stations was built on a haunted spot? That would definitely not be a good thing!

That’s the premise of the entertaining, albeit somewhat formulaic South Korean horror film Ogsuyeog gwisin (The Ghost Station), starring young gossip site journalist Na-young (Kim Bo-Ra), and her pal U-won (Kim Jae-Hyun), who works security at Oksu Station. The film opens with slacker Tae-hee (Shin So-Yul) stuck on the platform late at night when he sees a woman who appears to be staggering drunk. He naturally shares photos with his friends while making fun of her condition. Then she vanishes. He tries to find out where she’s gone and what’s happened to her, with what can only be described as less than stellar results.

Seeking lots of clicks (how her dragon-lady boss (Kim Na-Yoon) measures journalists for the gossip site), eager young reporter Na-young picks up on the story, starting by interviewing an official associated with the incident. Except we learn that he died hours before her interview! Whaaaa? There’s clearly something amiss at Oksu Station, and when U-won is tasked with investigating, he finds that things are even more weird: the woman was killed in an older, unused platform apart from the current passenger platform. That’s where he encounters a classic horror motif: A creepy urchin of a child. Who are they and why are they hanging around the platform?

It turns out that the station’s built atop a spot that was the site of a horrific incident decades earlier and until its bad mojo is cleared, it’s not safe for anyone at the station, particularly late at night. People begin to die in mysterious ways. They know they’ve been marked for death when scratches start to appear on their arms and neck, a nice, grisly touch that helps propel this tight, 81-minute movie forward at a good clip.

Na-young (Kim Bo-Ra) and U-won (Kim Jae Hyun), from "The Ghost Station"

Na-young (Kim Bo-Ra) and U-won (Kim Jae Hyun) see something horrifying, from “The Ghost Station”

While this is a South Korean horror film, directed by the able Yong-ki Jeong and based on Horang’s Webtoon story”The Ghost of Oksu Station”, in many ways it feels more like a Japanese horror film. The easiest parallel is Ringu (The Ring) with a similar strange incident and an appealing young reporter trying to ferret out the meaning of the great mystery while hoping to avoid becoming a victim herself.

The sets and underground tunnels are appropriately dark and moody and the young actors are appealing – with a special nod to Na-young’s boss at the gossip site, who is hilarious as a mostly evil archetypal Bad Boss – but there’s a lot formulaic about The Ghost Station too, making it sometimes rather more daft than horrific. The cause of the haunting is also interesting but doesn’t entirely make sense, even within the context of the film narrative.

Still, if you bump into The Ghost Station while channel surfing or poking around on your favorite streamer’s film library, this is a horror film that’s worth a watch. It’s an interesting South Korean take on a classic Japanese horror motif, even if could have brought more originality to the tale.

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dave taylor vertigo film swirl backgroundPlanet Dave is run by Dave Taylor, who has been writing about film, cars, games, and his lifestyle for many years. He's based in Boulder, Colorado and assures readers he's only occasionally falling into a gravity well or temporal distortion field.

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