Muoi: The Legend of a Portrait (2007) is a South Korea / Vietnam co-production about a young Korean writer who travels to Vietnam to chase down the legend of the century-old curse of Muoi, the spirit of a vengeful woman, for her second novel. While there, she’s taken in by an old high school friend whom she wronged by writing a novel based on rumours about her being promiscuous.
The film is fairly obvious from the get-go in a set up heavily reminiscent of Ringu with a side of Ju-on. Muoi doesn't look like the onryō of those films as the producers opted for a more gory visage, but the similarities are so striking as to lead me to wonder if Vietnam (or Korea for that matter) have their own version of onryō or if they were simply compiling all of the Asian ghost cliches they could for what was (apparently) Vietnam’s first horror film.
That all sounds fairly negative, and it is, but the film isn’t without its good points and, surprisingly, one or two of those good points was in the writing. Even while being derivative, it was engaging enough a film to make me stick with it and it ended almost exactly as I would’ve done it. The performances were excellent across the board, too, which goes a long way toward making this flick watchable.
I wish they’d taken more care when delivering it for streaming as there were scenes that were far too dark and this even ruined a few of the scares. The score was good, it just faded into the background like a good score often does, and added that extra bit of dimension to the scenes.
Overall, an okay film. It doesn’t revolutionize horror or Asian horror, but it does a pretty good job of telling the same ol’ story in a pretty, new (to American audiences) setting.