Death Bell (Gosa) (2008)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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as Park Chan-joo
as English Teacher
as Kang Hyeon
as Yoon Myeong-hyo
as Ji-won's mother
as Kim Ji-won
as Park Woo-ram
as Park Jin-kyeong
as Choi Eun-joo
as Myeong-hyo's mother
Critic Reviews for Death Bell (Gosa)
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Audience Reviews for Death Bell (Gosa)
It is something new to the eye. Gosa lacks scares and wit. Though it's truly cool as a whole but it's barely a horror movie.
Exceptionally shitty compared to most of Korea's rather shaky recent horror output, Death Bell is like an even dumber version of Saw. After concocting a vaguely interesting premise, revolving around a group of intelligent students solving mysteries in order to save their peers, it immediately discards the conceit - even when the puzzles are solved in time, the student in question dies anyway. Because the film is propped up on its tortures and subsequent deaths, this little paradox feels like it shouldn't matter, but Death Bell's general incompetence just makes it frustrating. This is largely because the kills aren't particularly clever, the puzzles feel rudimentary, the gore is shallow and there simply aren't any scares to be found. Any tension the movie manages to scrape up is destroyed by the unfocused editing, which cross-cuts between groups of different students experiencing varying levels of fear - a scene with a handful of rebels hiding in a dorm and being threatened by some encroaching spiritual presence is punctuated by cuts to the rest of the students sitting in a classroom and talking, effectively diffusing all of the build-up in the former scene. The plot is a huge mess, as has become trendy in Korean horror. It's like the creators decided they wanted to have supernatural elements, got bored, and wrote in a plot twist that retroactively deleted all of the implausible things that happen in the first 80 minutes. Unsurprisingly, it is a completely lame twist. The acting is fine, but the heroine displays very little of the spunk that she puts forth before the shit hits the fan and the teachers only seem to have one dimension a piece. I've found it hard to appreciate Asian horror on a so-bad-it's-good level simply because it takes itself SO seriously. The plots feel so spare and interchangeable that the films have very little to distinguish them or make them endearing, even the better ones. If they don't succeed at their ambitions, it feels like less of a potential breeding ground for schadenfreude and more like you've just wasted an hour and a half of your time. Quite simply, films like Death Bell lack personality, which makes their failure as a horror doubly crippling when they can't serve as a comedy or a conversation piece either.
Fast paced Korean high school spin on Saw. Students are kidnapped, set up in traps, and their classmates must answer questions to set them free. Simple set-up that requires a lot of generous suspension of disbelief by the audience. The killer becomes almost omniscient, and their technical skills are flawless. Still, if people didn't follow the rules we wouldn't have a film. The traps are pretty unsettling, and the story behind why this is going on manages to intrigue for the short running time. Also a critique on the competitive nature of education in South Korea, we see the students scores represented like sports scores. It knows when to build the suspense and when to relish in its gore, but the victims are simply that, and the twist is just too convenient.
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