Two teenage girls tussle over a pair of red ladies' shoes found on a deserted subway platform. The victor walks away smirking, proudly wearing her new shoes. She hasn't got far though, before something rushes into her in the subway - and leaves her screaming, her feet severed.

The film then shifts its focus to young Tae-Su (Yeon-ah Park) a petulant girl with aspirations of becoming a ballet dancer. Her parents fawn upon her, but when it's revealed that the husband has been cheating, the mother - Sun-jae (Hye-su Kim, THREE EXTREMES 2) - decides to leave with Tae-su.

They stay at a decrepit bedsit while their landlord arranges for their new apartment to be decorated. The landlord hires the initially arrogant In-chul Cho to do the work, much to Sun-jae's disapproval.

But Sun-jae eventually warms to Cho, and a relationship begins - much to Tae-su's annoyance. Sun-jae is adamant the relationship will grow, however - her self-esteem significantly raised by both Cho's attentions and a flattering pair of new red shoes that she found abandoned on a subway train ...

Everyone admires said shoes. Cho can't wait to see Sun-jae in them, her daughter is always desperate to try them on and even Sun-jae's friend Kim can't help but "borrow" them when she calls round one night.

Kim goes out that night, in the shoes, and rings Sun-jae promising to return them the following night. Alas, Kim meets a supernatural end and Sun-jae becomes the police's prime suspect.

It's around this time, with the help of a few nightmarish hallucinations, that Sun-jae starts to wonder if all this bad luck (Kim's death, her daughter's unruliness, the disappearance of her husband) is all down to those mysterious new shoes ...

Loosely based upon a Hans Christian Andersen fable, THE RED SHOES is typical Asian horror fodder. It's slick, polished, frequently amazing to look at (the dreamlike ballet scenes are beautifully shot) and measured in pace.

THE RED SHOES is also, like most Asian horrors, too clinical and sterile to be emotionally engaging. It starts off well enough, with the emphasis being on Sun-jae's struggle with her self-esteem since finding out about her husband's infidelity. But then it loses itself in too many plot implausibility's.

For instance, when Sun-jae and Tae-su go to see the bedsit their landlord has in mind for them, the electricity is continually cutting out, there's damp on the walls, they're shivering from the cold and the landlord announces that a deranged hunchback lives in the basement. And Sun-jae accepts the bedsit.

The romance between Sun-jae and her decorator is clumsily rushed into play, and as a result seems equally implausible.

Worst of all, THE RED SHOES just isn't scary. Increasingly daft towards the end, boring certainly, but never ever scary.

As ever, Tartan UK's release offers a stunning presentation of the main feature.

The film is presented uncut in anamorphic 2.35:1 and looks gorgeous - sharp and well balanced in its presentation of the deliberately saturated colour schemes. For a film that aims for having a drab, icy look, Tartan's transfer could have easily been overly dark: not such worries.

The audio is available in Korean 2.0, 5.1 and 5.1 DTS mixes. All offer well-balanced, loud and forthright audio. Optional English subtitles are also at hand.

The film can be accessed via 12 chapters.

Extras include a commentary track from director Yong-gyun Kim (WANEE & JUNAH) and the movie's cinematographer. It's in Korean, with optional English subtitles. A subdued affair, it's nevertheless free from pregnant pauses and covers mainly technical aspects of the production.

There's a decent 17-minute Making Of featurette that consists largely of cast and crew interviews with forced English subtitles. Kim describes the film as representing "the extremities of a woman's desire for her womanhood" ... so now you know. All in all, it's a well-produced featurette.

"Visual Effects" is a 13-minute affair looking at the FX work, including the movie's CGI sequences. It employs split-screens at time to illustrate the genesis of the FX, while featuring interviews with the guys behind them. Again, with forced English subtitles.

Finally, there's a trailer.

Another good disc from Tartan UK. Unfortunately, the film is yet another example of how stale and unimaginative Asian horror movies have quickly become.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Tartan Asia Extreme UK
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review