THE WIG. 2005. TARTAN ASIA EXTREME. DIRECTED BY WON SHIN-YEON. MUSIC BY KIM JUN-SEONG. STARRING CHAE MIN-SEO AND YU-SUN. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I don’t really know where to start with reviewing this Korean horror film. You know that’s a bad sign, haha, because if I’d absolutely loved it, I’d know exactly what to say and I’d have written reams and reams about it already. I could tell from the cover of the DVD box (and the title) that it was going to be a movie about a haunted wig, and I was happy about that.
That much is true enough, anyway. It is a movie about a haunted wig. I kept thinking about THE SIMPSONS the whole way through it. Remember that TREEHOUSE OF HORROR episode called HELL TOUPÉE, in which Homer gets a hair transplant? He’s thrilled with himself but the hair has come from the head of Springfield’s criminal-in-residence, Snake, and it’s totally possessed with his evil spirit, chickie-pie…! Before long, the hair has taken Homer over and he’s sneeringly committing naughty deeds all over the place with his barnet all sassily quiffed up and his cigarette packet tucked into his sleeve.
Anyway, the protagonists of THE WIG are two sisters, Ji-hyeon and Su-hyeon. At the start of the film, poor Su-hyeon is being released from the cancer ward and brought home by her older sister. She has lost all her lovely hair due to the cancer, so Ji-hyeon has bought her a fabulous long black wig to make her feel better about herself. Su-hyeon looks great in it, but it seems to have a mind of its own right from the off. If Su-hyeon hangs it on a hook on the wall, it ends up on the floor, forcing itself onto Su-hyeon’s radar and practically insisting that she put it on…
The cancer bits are really sad. When Su-hyeon has her first bath in her sister’s bathroom, she looks so thin and pale and miserable sitting hunched over in the water, it’s heartbreaking. When she’s out of the bath and asks her sister to dry her back, her vulnerability is written all over her naked body. Her shaved head is an immensely powerful sight. Both it and her bare back and knobbly spine when she’s in the bath speak volumes about what she’s recently been through as a cancer patient.
When she puts the titular wig on, however, she becomes a different woman. She’s vibrant, sexy and full of life and fun. Full of some less appealing traits too though, as she comes on to her sister’s boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend, it’s not really clear which he is; they’re certainly having some problems, anyway) and makes it clear that she’s sexually available to him whenever he wants. Naturally, this puts an immense strain on her relationship with Big Sis, even though Ji-hyeon is tremendously giving and tolerant and mostly bends over backwards to keep her dying sister safe and happy.
The problem with this film is that it’s incredibly confusing. We know the wig is evil because a friend of Ji-hyeon’s who borrows it without the owner’s permission ends up being horribly murdered, and her cheating hubby right alongside her. Another woman dies a terrible death in a car crash but I’m not really sure why. She’s a friend of Ji-hyeon’s too but she doesn’t seem to have done anything to warrant being murdered so why was she killed…? God knows.
Also, of course, there’s the change in the dying girl herself. You know the way in the Snickers ads that ‘you’re not yourself when you’re hungry…?’ Well, Su-hyeon’s not herself when she’s wearing the wig, but all her sister’s attempts to take it from her go awry. There are all these inexplicable scenes in the film that just left me looking at my Asian-horror-film-watching friend and going: ‘What just happened…?’ The film is just too confusing to be scary. I was never really scared at all, to be honest.
The twist at the end explains things somewhat, but not entirely. I can reveal without spoiling the ending that the wig is made from real hair, which once belonged to someone who doesn’t need it anymore, if you get my drift, heh-heh-heh… That part was admittedly kind of cool.
The ending is actually good and soooooo sad. Maybe if the twist wasn’t such a total surprise to us and had been a bit better signposted throughout the film, things might have been clearer. And better. What should have been a great little horror film was sadly lacking in cohesion and scares. It was a terrific idea that lost the run of itself somewhat. Still, you win some, you lose some. I’m afraid I might just have to put this one in the ‘Don’t Watch Again’ pile.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY