October 29, 2009

The Curse of February 29th (2006)

BY NOW, you would think horror filmmakers would have covered every holiday or calendar event. (See lists of them here and here.) I mean, short of Boxing Day and the Vernal Equinox, most of them have been done.

Ah, but what about Leap Day?

I know, I should be reviewing The Curse of February 29th on said day. But since the last Leap Day was 20 months ago – and it’ll be more than two years till the next one – I’m reviewing Curse in the next logical place: the Halloween season.


In flashback, we learn from institutionalized former toll booth worker Jieyon (Eun-jin Baek) that for several nights in a row in late February four years ago, she experienced the same routine: a power blackout, followed by a woman driving up and handing her a bloody ticket. And each night, there was a report of a murder at a different tollbooth that leads to Jieyon’s.

Jieyon fears, however outrageously, that the woman is a serial killer who supposedly died in a prison bus explosion at her toll booth on February 29th twelve years ago – though her body was never found. Every Leap Day since then, someone has been killed at a local tool booth. And with another February 29th approaching, Jiyeon fears she may be the next victim…


The first half of The Curse of February 29th is more creepy than scary, and the film as a whole should be filed under “thriller” rather than “horror.” But no matter how you classify it, Curse is a flawed film. It provides an interesting premise, but at its core, it’s as formulaic as many of its holiday-based horror counterparts in the US:

• Mental hospital angle? Check.
• Killings based on a creepy legend? Check.
• The killer in the legend died, but the body was never found? Check.
• Creepy girl killer, with face obscured by long hair? Check.
• Nobody believes the girl in peril? Check.

It also suffers from a plodding pace; even with a tight 90-minute running time, I was checking the clock all through the finale – which concludes with a rush-to-explain, convoluted ending.

If you’re looking for good Asian horror, there are many better choices than The Curse of February 29th (might I recommend Infection). And if you’re looking for holiday-themed horror, keep your fingers crossed for Eli Roth’s full-length feature based on his Grindhouse spoof trailer Thanksgiving.

(Much like Blood Rain, The Curse of February 29th opened in its native Korea in 2006, but Pathfinder Pictures just released it in the US on DVD in this past August.)

Korean, with subtitles.


Will your kids want to watch it?
Unless your kids follow Asian horror, it’s highly unlikely they’ve even heard of The Curse of February 29th. Just as well, because tweens and younger shouldn’t watch it due to multiple bloody stabbings and disturbing nightmare sequences.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Even if she has an interest in horror or Asian cinema, I’d suggest looking for better films than Curse.

Um, excuse me, bloody knife? You’re in my shot.

The Curse of February 29th
• Director: Jong-hun Jung
• Screenwriter: Il-han Yoo
• Stars: Eun-jin Baek, Yoon-jeong Choi, Ho Im
• MPAA Rating: N/A (bloody violence, distrurbing imagery)

Buy The Curse of February 29th for less at Half.com >>
Rent The Curse of February 29th from Netflix >>


Keith said...

It does sound like it's pretty lame. Hope you've been having a great week and are getting ready for Halloween.

Geof said...

A film for Leap Year?! So clever but sad to see that it was a fail.

Ha! The close-up of the eye on the cover resembles the original poster for Ringu (1998).


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