Ghost Mask: Scar Movie Review
Written by Simret Cheema-Innis
Released by J Season Pictures
Directed by Takeshi Sone
Written by Etsuo Hiratani
2018, 81 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Frightfest UK Premiere on 26th August 2018
Ghost Mask: Scar is melodramatic horror with a twist; one which shows just how mind-boggling Takeshi Sone’s talent for visually interweaving unpredictable storylines goes.
Miyu, a Japanese student leaves for Korea in search of her sister, who went missing two years previously, with only a photo and some vague facts about why her sister left. In her search, she stumbles across a plastic surgeon named Hana who reminds her of her sister.
Hana befriends Miyu and invites her home to meet her partner Nyoshin who’s instantly jealous and overtly possessive over her girlfriend. Throughout her visit, Miyu is plagued by memories of her sister and their last traumatic exchange where her sister discovered that her fiancé was in love with Miyu. This spurred on a psychotic break which, through an unfortunate event, resulted in Miyu's sister taking refuge with a plastic surgeon who turns out to be Hana.
Miyu senses familiarity between Hana and her missing sister so much that she tries to find out whether Hana knows more than what she’s letting on.
Ghost Mask: Scar fuses together two leading Asian Extreme Horror film industries; we have the all-so-popular J-Horror aesthetic, with the serious neo-political K-Horror fusion. Sone is manipulative in his storytelling, first displaying what appears to be borderline lesbian Asian television soap opera, but then, as the story unravels, takes a Pedro Almodóvar approach akin to films like The Skin I Live In or Talk to Her.
It’s here Sone elicits social presence in his movie by touching on the topic of plastic surgery in Asia. It becomes clear around the second half that plastic surgery is the theme of the film, highlighting the pressure and importance of beauty in Asian society.
The characters weave interlocking narratives upon the backdrop of beauty and its hierarchy, from skin lightening (the lighter, the better opinion), straight through to Europeanising looks, something which a lot of Asians aspire towards because it helps to promote status and economic wealth.
This is all bound together with a tale of a modern Kuchisake-onna, the cleft-mouthed woman. Which itself is a tale of adultery, betrayal and punishment for being beautiful (a Japanese folk-tale dating back to the Tokugawa Shogunate).
Then there’s the overall commentary on society, clinging to the ideals of shallow beauty and materialism. And, as seen in Ghost Mask - Scar, one sister is actually estranged or not cared about because she’s deemed as ugly.
After the big reveal (no spoilers provided this time) it appears, Sone plays on a gory slapstick finale. This dampens the movie and although orchestrated in an unrealistic-bloody-grandiose showdown, Asian cinema fans may nod their heads in appreciation for the sometimes-nonsensical action it is well known for.
Ghost Mask: Scar is a good example of effective storytelling on an issue that is still very prevalent in Asian society and one which sadly demonstrates no signs of improving.
Takeshi Sone, although already known for his cinematography work, shows promise through his direction and emotive portrayal of LGBT women in both Korea and Japan.
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