Having failed their university entrance exams, Bo-ram and a few hundred other girls have been sent to Younghwa Academy for a year of intensive study, completely shut off from the outside world. The head mistress tells the girls that they’re “already losers,” that the next year will determine the rest of their lives, and that they must suppress every desire and learn to be competitive. The severe dean enforces extremely rigid rules fit for the military, or prison, and non-conformity or “individual acts” merit humiliation and corporal punishment. Bo-ram’s roommates Eun-su, Da-young and Yoo-jin learn to cope by popping pills, hiding a beloved pet hamster and being a rebel, respectively, behaviour that doesn’t go unnoticed by the dean, and drives the girls to the breaking point. To make matters worse, they’re haunted by visions of the fire that’s said to have killed nearly all of the academy’s students three years earlier. But if it was a fire, why are the dead bodies of their dreams cut up and bloodied rather than charred and blackened?
Roommates, aka D-Day, is one of four horror films commissioned for the Suddenly One Day package, shot in HD for only $600,000. First-time feature-director Kim Eun-kyung has clearly made the most of her resources, culling a fine cast of unknowns and skillfully merging the imagery that has come to characterize contemporary Asian horror with a story inspired by Western classics such as Suspiria and The Shining. With an involving, unpredictable plot and scares-a-plenty, this is more than merely another movie haunted by black hair and ceiling stains. Those familiar motifs appear in Roommates, but what makes the film truly disturbing --especially this year -- is its reflection of the real-life havoc that school can wreak on fragile young psyches, and the horror that can ensue.
Director: Kim Eun-kyeong
Screenplay: Yoo Il-han
Producers: Ahn Byeong-ki
Distributor: CJ Entertainment