High school love stories are fraught with difficulty, especially when depicted on camera, and even more so when the couple in question are involved in a same sex relationship, as shown in this suspenseful thriller, that, despite a couple of brilliantly unpredicted scares, works best as a character drama, much like its prequel, Whispering Corridors, though the two are completely unrelated.
Min-ah (Gyu-ri Kim), a cheerful high school student, discovers a diary which illustrates the relationship between two of her fellow students, Shi-eun (Yeong-jin Lee) and Hyo-shin (Yeh-jin Park), which transitions from a contemporary friendship, to a complicated romance. Much like a car crash, Min-ah is unable to keep her eyes from the two young ladies, the diary being far from beautiful, proving to be as sad as it is sometimes disturbing, which reflects the tone of the feature.
After one of the lovers commits suicide, the entire school is affected by not only the emotional turmoil of such an incident, but the ramifications that come after, as bizarre, haunting occurrences begin to dominate the school. To articulate any further about the plot would be telling, Memento Mori been one of those films where every scene is pivotal to the understanding of the feature, potentially requiring more than one view to comprehend segments of the plot, though unanswered questions will continue to prevail.
Unlike the original, the second film in the Whispering Corridors franchise is not in chronological order, rather, past and present are simultaneously conveyed, the beginning portions of the film on initial viewing appearing to blur together, before viewers inevitably become accustomed to the story's unique portrayal. However, in using this style, the filmmakers are able to intelligently lead the audience in one direction, before surprising them with an unexpected twist, occasionally showing a moment of beauty, but once its perspective is fully realized later, the tenderness of the moment is reduced to sadness.
The characters are brilliantly portrayed by the talent, the chemistry, both good and bad been exceptionally achieved, and on more than one occasion I felt as though I could be friends with some of them had they been real, a rare feeling that was quite enjoyable. This is heightened by the genuine high school environment, which captures not only the hardships of school life, but its fun atmosphere as well, although occasionally, the focus on the three central characters leaves little room for the development of Min-ah's closest friends.
Questions persist after the conclusion of the film, regarding not only the directionality of the characters, but the reasons behind some of the decisions they made over the film, a query which especially relates to Shi-eun's character, whose hypocritical behavior potentially requires further in-depth perspectives. Despite characters been well articulated, additional back-story's could have proved helpful. Though the movie feels complete, viewing the special features provides the audience with the knowledge that several scenes were cut, and had they been included, the film's impact would have remained unchanged, but the many complexity's might have been more thoroughly understood.
Like Whispering Corridors, viewers are able to provide their own answers to the many questions that remain, the filmmakers laying the foundations for a story that continues long after the credits have rolled. Half an hour after watching the feature I became quite sad after continuing to contemplate much of the film and character decisions, which impact the audience for a long while afterwards.
Intelligent, beautiful and poignant, Memento Mori is every bit as unique and fascinating as Whispering Corridors. Although on most occasions the movie is not in your face terrifying, the story feels like a rite of passage that anyone of any age should view, in order to understand the complexities of an adolescent mind, the teenage girls of the feature inevitably forging paths that will lead them into adulthood.
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