February 29 is a 2006 South Korean horror/mystery film written and directed by Jeong Jong-hoon. Its the first installment of the 4 Horror Tales film series so that caught my eye. But sadly this film left more than a little underwhelmed.
The story follows Han Jo-Yeon (Park Eun-hye) who worked at a cursed toll booth and is telling her story from inside an insane asylum to a reporter. Every 4 years the ghost of a prisoner that died in an accident at the toll booth returns on February 29th and kills an employee. At first she doesn’t believe her friends story. But after Jo-Yeon receives a bloody ticket and learns of a murder at another nearby toll booth things take a dark turn. Now the ghost or maybe not ghost is after her and each night she gets another bloody ticket. She aided by Detective Park (Im Ho) and Detective Choi (Lee Dae-Woo).
Its hard to talk about this film and not give away anything about it. Its a very simple plot and also insufferably predictable. While watching this film I was able to call the “surprise” twist ending less than a quarter of the way into the film. Allot of this is due to the premises as it didn’t seems to know what to do with it. It wanted to be a ghost story, but it changes from that gradually to where the body was never discovered. So maybe not a ghost just a killer who works on a very specific timetable? I could tell things were lost in translation.
Most of the characters are shallow and short lived. The only characters that I truly enjoyed and would be the only reason for me to revisit this film are the Detectives. Im Ho and Lee Dae-Woo did a great time playing off each other as partners. I was very easily able to believe that they were close friends and partners and they were the only characters, including the main that I actually felt any dread or worry for.
Most of the scares in the film are standard fare for this kind of film. Creepy sounds arms coming out lockers and killers waiting to pounce the protagonist, but never manage to harm her. I watched this film shortly after watching Red Shoes and Silk. Both of which I find to be superior ghost stories. It would of benefited the movie I feel if the creators would of decided what kind of story they were going to say before they got more than half way though the film. Also since you know the Jo-Yeon is alive to tell the story, it takes away from the horror as you know going in that shes going to survive.
But what’s my final thoughts on this film. Meh? It was ok enough, it kept me entertained for the 100 minutes of its run time. But beyond that, there wasn’t much to it. I had seen everything it tried to do before and done better. Again, I’m sure I missed something due to both the translation and cultures in which it was made. But I still gotta give it a rating and I’m going to have to give it a 5/10 and most of that is due to a pair of very entertaining detectives.