I’ll be the first to admit that I went to see Horror Stories 2 without having any idea what it was about. Worse, I did not even see the first movie, but with the Korean horrorfest being the only scary movie showing, I decided to go with it. It was a good decision on my part, I am happy to note.
Horror Stories 2 is a collection of four stories — 444 is about an insurance agent who seeks the counsel of a protege who has the ability to communicate with the dead; The Cliff is about two friends who go on a hiking trip, only to get stuck on (you guessed it) a cliff where their friendship is tested by desperation; The Pain of Death tackles a road trip gone awry for three teenage girls who fail their exam; and Escape is a horror comedy about a nerdy young schoolteacher who wants to find a way out of his dreary existence only to find himself stuck in another universe more hellish than the one he left.
All the stories are presented as part of the main story 444– as the suspicious insurance cases that Park Sung Woong (Manager Park) wanted Lee Se Young (Se Young) to look over. In each episode, the lead character makes a short narration of events to get the audiences on the same page. This, I think worked well, for the overall sense of continuity of the stories, especially since they are unrelated to one another. While the three stories proceed rather slowly, especially the second episode — The Pain of Death, it does build some tension that leads to the overall sense of creepiness of the film. The last episode was hilarious in its ridiculousness and worked more like a manga than anything else. I would have liked for the last episode (Escape) to have been connected to the 444 to make it more creepy since the Satan worship was already established in the beginning of the episode with the bedazzled sign of the devil on Manager Park’s phone. That would have raised some goosebumps.
All in all, Horror Stories 2 is not the type of film that goes for cheap thrills and shocks but rather bases its effectiveness on the viewers’ patience and understanding of this subtle, creepy take on horror that lasts long after the curtains go down on the last episode. I just wish that there was some common element that connects the stories together that would pump up the wow factor of the movie, but that’s just my opinion.