What makes a good horror film? Directors and producers will most likely answer with the cinematography and animation, the atmosphere, and the element of surprise and fear, among others. Of course, the plot also makes a difference between a good and an excellent horror film.
Horror movie “Warning: Do Not Play” provides a meta exploration of a director’s desperation to find the perfect horror film. But is it effective?
The film centers on Mi Jung (Seo Ye Ji), a rookie film director who wants to write the next hit horror movie but struggles to find the perfect plot. On a meeting with her junior Joon Seo (Ji Yoon Ho), she finally strikes gold: an urban legend about a horror film so terrifying that it was banned in film festivals.
After a bit of deep digging, Mi Jung meets the director, Kim Jae Hyun (Jin Seon Kyu), who warns her to forget about the film. But out of curiosity—and a little desperation for her career—Mi Jung becomes obsessed with finding the circumstances that led to the creation of the film.
And like all horror stories, the circumstances were gruesome.
In terms of plot, “Warning: Do Not Play” is more of a mystery film than that of horror. The horror scenes are limited, as the bulk of the film focuses on Mi Jung digging deep into the urban legend that she wants to turn into a movie.
Fortunately, the cinematography makes you feel that the film is more horror than mystery. Some scenes are played in darkness, leaving you wondering what’s lurking beyond it and what would jump out to scare you. There’s no cheesy background music, but there are some sound effects that would leave hairs standing up.
The entire film wouldn’t be effectively scary if it weren’t for the cast. Seo Ye Ji is engaging to watch as a heroine who strives to get to the bottom of an urban legend, leaving no stone unturned because the details in a film matter. Jin Seon Kyu is deranged and scary as the film requires him, and Ji Yoon Ho is solid in his supporting but crucial role.
Aside from being a horror film, “Warning: Do Not Play” is a homage to the genre. The film is full of references to classics such as “The Exorcist,” and a few parts of the movie were filmed a la “The Blair Witch Project.” For horror junkies, watching the film will feel like an Easter egg hunt.
“Warning: Do Not Play” may not be the perfect horror movie, but it is effective in its delivery.
Catch the film in a cinema near you. View the cinema list and schedule here.