Before taking this class, I always privately wondered about horror movie’s fascination with women. I suppose we could be seen as an easy source of mystery for men (and, let’s face it, pretty much all of the filmmakers prior to the 21st century were men) but that sort of statement underestimates the creative prowess of a lot of people while only really scratching the surface of the matter. Women in horror seemed to take on roles that men couldn’t be seen starring in—either as a matter of pride, or because stereotypes made it so that they couldn’t be seen a certain way—which pretty much amounted to: the victim, the exploited party, the lost and confused, the seductive monster.
Interestingly enough, Voice didn’t have much to say about men. They were absolutely removed from the context of Voice, which actually didn’t take away from the story despite only really having female characters cast in traditionally female roles. Instead this somehow made everything less creepy and more… sad? To me, it seemed more like a suspenseful/supernatural whodunit than a proper horror movie because despite the paranormal elements, the murders, and the general nature of the story, there was something familiar and predictable about it. But, then, Asian horrors always feel a bit different to me. Possibly I’m just suffering from being overexposed to Western movies and underexposed to (good) Eastern/Asian horror but anyway…
Lacking the male element, Voice exists in a vacuum in which the female gaze is allowed to exist without anyone chastising her for it, though curiously enough sight is one of the senses least important to the whole thing. Maybe it’s this shift in focus that allows for some of the more unconventional moments in the film. Of course, there is a focus placed on the importance of one’s voice and of making oneself heard, which is tied into the emotional bonds one has to other people in the world. The voice here seemed to speak of an ability to come back to life. Or, at least, as a way to cling to the world of the living. The issue then is the person (or ghost) becoming the abject, the thing which lives on the other side of “the border”, which is in itself a frightening thought for anyone.
When speaking of abjection and the abject, I can’t avoid speaking of homosexual relationships, especially as it appears in Voice. Homosexuality doesn’t seem to be much of an issue here past its role in the bullying that lead to Hyo-jung’s suicide, but that was presented as a matter of many different factors closing in on the girl. In fact, the greatest tension in the movie seems to come from the fact that Hyo-jung, even as a ghost, could not let go of the symbolic mother figure (the music teacher) and was angered by losing this as it meant that she would lose her voice. As Choh-Ah says: the dead only remember what they want to remember. Their memories, selves, and identities are tied into the fact that someone still remembers or loves them. Hyo-jung’s identity was heavily threatened by the maternal figure symbolically abandoning her.
I don’t have much else to say about Voice, except that I hope I understood it right. It was a bit of a confusing movie and I’m still re-thinking some of the details until now.