Edinburgh International Film Festival

Red Shoes (2005)

Starring: Kim Hye-soo, Park Yeon-ah, Kim Seong-su

Directed by: Kim Yong-gyun

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

A terrible fate awaits the wearers of... the Red Shoes

Ah, The Red Shoes. Michael Powell's classic and timeless tribute to the passions and obsessions of the world of ballet, where the desire to dance eventually drives a beautiful but doomed prima ballerina to her death. So what a great idea, then, for a South Korean director to take Powell's themes and translate them into a horror movie. Only in this version, the obsession that drives so many to their death is not music or dance, but an object of desire I think we ladies can all relate to: shoes.

Sun-jae is a nervy divorcee living with her daughter in a nasty apartment block. And she loves shoes, displaying a vast collection that would make Imelda Marcos jealous in a towering arrangement of glass boxes in her cramped bedroom. So when she sees a pair of pretty crimson heels sitting innocently and alone on a subway train, she can't resist taking them home with her. Big mistake. Huge. For everyone who sees the shoes, including her bug-eyed daughter, Tae-soo, can't help but desire them - with disastrous consequences.

Sun-jae watches Tae-soo dance in the South Korean horror movie Red Shoes

Red Shoes ticks all the right boxes for an Asian horror film: single mum with creepy child living in dodgy, haunted, high rise flat; ghostly goings-on in lift as it lurches up 13 floors; weird old crazy lady in basement; cursed object that must be returned to its dead owner in order to lay her ghost to rest; and, of course, the obligatory scary woman with hair over her face.

To be honest, Red Shoes isn't terribly scary, but it is strangely beautiful, in a macabre sort of way, especially the gorgeous flashbacks to the 1940s which explain the story of the shoes. The plot hangs together by its fingernails but makes enough sense to keep you intrigued. However, the film does drag at bit at the end, by which time you've long guessed the fairly obvious 'twist', and could probably have benefited from some surreptitious pruning of yet more terror-stricken face-pulling from Sun-jae. And, well, correct me if I'm wrong but those shoes aren't actually red - they're pink!

Still, if you liked Ring and The Eye then I'd definitely suggest trying Red Shoes for size.

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