Voice wasn’t a typical Asian horror movie, which have the reputation of being very scary, I think mostly because of its structure and imagery. The movie, while not a particular favorite, is interesting because of its story, its use of the unreliable narrator, and how the truth behind the whole event is played out.
At the beginning, we see Young-eon and Sun-min, best friends in an all-girls academy. When Young-eon’s throat gets slashed, she seems to lose consciousness and wakes up the next day, totally invisible to everyone around her. She searches for her best friend and we see that only Sun-min can hear her. Here an interesting point about death is introduced. It is only Sun-min who hears her voice because she’s the only one who truly thinks about her, should Sun-min forget about Young-eon, Young-eon would become voiceless and alone in a sort of parallel universe. Her fear of becoming essentially non-existent is understandable. She’d only be able to see and hear the world, but never interact. This frightening prospect pushes them to find the truth.
As they investigate, curious things begin to happen, such as the death of their music teacher that another student, Choh-ah, who befriends Sun-min learns of Young-eon’s lingering, finds suspicious. Choh-ah reveals that ghosts only remember what they want to. This bit of information makes Sun-min and the viewer start to question the story so far. We soon realize that Young-eon isn’t as innocent as she looks. We get the impression that she is a shy and kind girl at the beginning, but through various flashbacks, we see that she has been very cold, cruel, and selfish. Right before the climax of the movie, we see her reconcile these two sides of herself – the victim and tormentor.
It was mentioned in class that one way to view Voice was as a movie about growing up. So, I thought about what growing up means. In a way, to grow up means to leave your childhood and transition into who you’ll be for the rest of your life. I find that Young-eon’s childhood, her innocence, ended when she realizes the truth behind her person. You could say that she repressed many things about herself, most likely because she knew how horrible they were, because she didn’t want to think of herself as a bad person. When she is able to confront her past, she realizes what she truly wants – to live. She then stops thinking of right and wrong and just takes what she wants.
In the end, I felt very sad for Young-eon. After all, to live again she betrays her (arguably) only friend and takes Sun-min’s body and life. I don’t believe this kind of the desire to be alive should be enough to kill your best friend. After all, what kind of life would you be living after committing all those horrendous things? At the same time, I tried to put myself in Young-eon’s shoes. It’s easy to pass judgement on her without considering her situation, but thinking about her ghost state, her actions become somewhat more understandable. She’s all alone in limbo, watching everyone around her live, yet deprived of something everyone around her seems to take for granted – life. She’s young and should have had an entire life ahead of her, but that was ripped away from her when she was murdered. Being in that sort of desperate situation might drive anyone to murder. As Laura from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, or to paraphrase her at least, killing isn’t as big a deal anymore when you’re dead.
With that, I don’t know if I should think of Young-eon as evil for killing her best friend. Sure, it was a horrible act (and she’s done other horrible things before that), but it becomes difficult to judge her because of her circumstances.Either way, she took the bull by the horns and chose life, instead of remaining passive and staying a ghost, possibly forever. If you think about her actions this way, she becomes, in her own way, admirable.