Urban Myths is a 2022 South Korean anthology horror film consisting of ten stories set in familiar everyday life experiences such as noise between floors, old furniture, mannequins, a tunnel and social media. Also known as Urban Myths: Tooth Worms
Directed by Hong Won-ki – making his feature directorial debut – from a screenplay written by Kang Ji-yoon.
The Johnny Bros-Megabox JoongAng PlusM production stars Kim Do-yoon, Lee Yul-eum, Lee Young-jin and Lee Su-min.
If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while, then you might know that I despise anthology movies. Three or four short tales just don’t satisfy me as much as one, longer and more detailed movie. There are some exceptions (hello Kwaidan!) but otherwise, I’m not a fan.
However, this anthology tale is something different. Instead of three shorter stories, we get ten micro-stories, all based on Korean urban legends or myths. It’s worth noting that none of the stories here intertwine. That means they are all standalone, with individual casts. Let’s explore each tale:
The Tunnel: a suspicious-looking man accidentally runs over a woman and tries to dump her body in the woods, but his car breaks down in a tunnel and the ghost of the woman attacks him.
The Woman In Red: a woman moves into a new apartment after the death of her friend by suicide. However, there is a mysterious woman in red who keeps following her, and she doesn’t know why. But she soon will!
Tooth Worms: a man visits a dentist complaining of pain in his gums. An x-ray reveals an infestation of worms, not seen in Korea for almost 100 years. As the dentist attempts to perform surgery to rid the infestation, the man turns a bit rabid.
Necromancy: after the death of her best friend by suicide, a school girl finds their diary which details a ritual to bring a person back from the dead. So, she tries it out.
The Wall: a man moves into an apartment and gets frustrated that his neighbour keeps knocking on his wall. After he meets her in the elevator, he decides to use the knocking to communicate with her, with unexpected results.
The Closet: a young woman picks up a custom-made closet for free from a rather strange man. She then starts to experience some creepy events and discovers a false back in her new piece of furniture.
Ghost Marriage: a young man is headhunted by a marketing company for a prestigious role. In his interview, he answers some strange and personal questions, and later finds out the real reason why!
The Girl In The Mirror: a young woman desperate to be a social media influencer does whatever she can to be famous, except it only brings out her ugly side.
A Mannequin: a young man working for a Mannequin hiring firm is told a creepy tale about his employer’s stock, but is there more to the tale than there should be?
Escape Games: three escape game influencers are invited to try out the ultimate challenge, a satanic-themed escape game where the winner will receive a huge cash award. But there can only be one winner.
So, I actually enjoyed this film. But that comes with some caveats! First, this is what I didn’t like:
I have no knowledge of the urban myths in the movie, and the film doesn’t really explain them. This means the shorter stories like The Tunnel aren’t really that impactful, and feel more like the short movies at the start of Pixar film than part of the movie itself. My guess is if you know about these tales, you’ll enjoy Urban Myths a lot more.
My guess is also most of these tales are based on forum stories or message boards, thus unless you’re Korean, you probably won’t know much about them either.
I enjoyed Tooth Worms until the story turned into a zombie tale. I really wish I could get a wacky Korean horror movie without zombies just once!
I don’t know who the cast are, but apparently, they’re a big deal. Not a negative, just more of an observation. Also, I thought that ten tales was stretching it a bit much. The movie clocks in at almost 2 hours, so perhaps a cut down to eight takes and 100 minutes would have been better? Yet there was a lot more that I did like:
I loved Escape Game and The Girl In The Mirror, and I especially loved A Mannequin. I would not object to full-length horror movies based on those three stories!
There are some very clever visual effects – especially the mouth in Tooth Worms that reminded me a bit of a shot from Death Forest 2, and the scene in Necromancy where the spirit eats the girl. They were some pretty cool effects. But the real winner was, again, A Mannequin. The effects were genuinely creepy and very well done. Each tale had a nice wrap-up. Some were obviously better than others, but none of the tales ended on a cliffhanger.
The ordering of the tales is about right. The second tale, The Woman in Red, picks up the pace of the film after the short intro of The Tunnel and has a decent story to hold your interest and make you want to keep watching the whole film.
It’s Korean – that means everyone is super good-looking. And indeed they really are!
So, what are my overall thoughts? I hate to admit this, but I really enjoyed this anthology film. I didn’t love it, but I would talk positively about it if someone asked me, and I would recommend it if you were looking for something a little on the different side. Just don’t get too invested in any of the tales and you’ll have a great time. ★★★ The Arty Dans, SHOCKMANIA
” …it seems that the ‘poorness’ of the story could not be filled even with the passionate performances of the actors who made use of each episode. It is somewhat regrettable that the immersion is lowered due to the lack of narrative or probabilities, and the method of making people feel fear, even if the story continues as if it has been seen somewhere, as it grafted the commonly known ‘ghost story’ to a realistic situation.” Star News [translated from Korean]
“It can be a special gift for fans in that you can see a different side of your favourite star. Overall, it is a mild-tasting horror film with less tension because it is easy to predict when something will come out. Contrary to the title, it is also unfortunate that the characteristics of the city of Seoul do not stand out.” Cine21 [translated from Korean]
Trailer [1080p HD]:
The film was released theatrically by Megabox JoongAng PlusM domestically on April 27, 2022, and then released in thirteen countries overseas including Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan in May 2022.
2 hours 3 minutes
서울괴담 aka Seoulgoedam “Seoul Ghost Story”
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