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  • Writer's pictureMaxwell J.

Once Finished, Korean Horror Film Lingering (2020) Won’t Stay On Your Mind For Too Long

Title: Lingering

First Wide Release: April 29, 2020 (Theatrical Release)

Director: Yoon Een-Kyoung

Writer: Yoon Een-Kyoung

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Starring: Se-yeong Lee, Ji-Young Park, So-yi Park

Where to Watch: Free with a subscription to Shudder

After getting custody of her estranged younger sister Yoon Ji-yoo (So-yi Park), Yoo-mi (Se-yeong Lee) seeks out a family friend (Ji-Young Park) to take over the parental duties. Soon after arriving, Yoo-mi experiences troubling nightmares and lapses in time. It doesn’t help that her sister insists on talking with people who are clearly not there. Things escalate when Ji-yoo goes missing and the police think Yoo-mi has something to do with it. First time writer and director Yoon Een-Kyoung helms Lingering, a story of vengeance and mystery.

Lingering hits all the beats of a familiar vaguely supernatural film should but does so without much flair or enthusiasm.

It’s hard to talk too much about Lingering because it is one of the blander, more recent offerings I have seen lately. What’s more, is Lingering has a nasty habit of not knowing what to do with its subplots. Some examples of poorly resolved issues include aggressive police departments, half-blind teenagers (who, yes, is absolutely used as a plot device and nothing more), and a line in passing that insinuates that the hotel drives people insane. Lingering tries to spice things up with a third act reveal but it isn’t surprising, effective, or interesting enough to make up for much. The moral of this review is that there is nothing special about the story.

Much of Lingering’s lack of success comes from its script, particularly with the way it writes Yoo-mi. While Lee does her best to work with the material given, Yoo-mi is an entirely unlikable and flaccid character. It’s clear that she has lived a traumatic life but her character arc is not developed in a way that feels earned. What should read as reluctance to care for a child views more as contempt, and as that resentment gradually fades it is replaced by spontaneous love and grace, which feels forced given the sequence of events. Park’s Ji-yoo, on the other hand, is a bright spot for portraying one of the most adorable little kids I’ve seen in horror recently.

There’s not much to write about Lingering’s film quality either. Aside from a few nice shots here and there, particularly of the hotel and adjacent amusement park, and a score that is rather pleasing, nothing really sticks. The effects at their best are below average and at their worst are atrocious. It really takes the viewer out of the film because they are so amateur compared to the technical level the rest of the film operates. Lingering could have used some better editing too. Unnecessarily long and plodding, it is a slog of a film to finish which is sad because it is only 101 minutes long.

Yoon labors to sell Lingering as a frightening and off-beat paranormal-esque horror but it is, unfortunately, a boring and sloppy film. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact tone Yoon is going for but I think it is supposed to be dark and sinister, which it really fails to achieve. Lots of ideas are thrown together and assumed to stick. Some could say these are red herrings, others, like myself, would say that it is just lazy writing masquerading as ambiguity. There’s a good film in here but it's buried beneath a lot of mediocrity. I hope that Yoon can learn from these mistakes when making their next film.

There’s not much to talk about here. Lingering is a pretty average film that is watchable but never does anything interesting to maintain the audience’s attention. With a few tweaks to the storyline here and there and the use of better effects work, Lingering could have been a decent haunter. Skip this unless you have a real affinity for Korean horror, otherwise, it will fade pretty quickly from your mind as soon as it reaches the end.

Overall Score? 5/10

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