|Revised Romanization||Gosa: piui junggangosa|
|McCune–Reischauer||Kosa: p‘iŭi chunggangosa|
|Directed by||Nayato Fio Nuala
|Produced by||Hong Jung-pyo
|Music by||Kim Jun-seong|
|Edited by||Yu Yeong-ju|
|Distributed by||SK Telecom (South Korea)
Death Bell (Hangul: 고死: 피의 중간고사; RR: Gosa: Piui Junggangosa) is a 2008 South Korean film. The only Korean horror film released over the summer of 2008, it is the first feature by former music video director Chang (real name Yoon Hong-seung), who also co-wrote the screenplay. Death Bell stars Lee Beom-soo in his first horror film role, and K-pop singer Nam Gyu-ri in her acting debut. Set in a Korean high school, the film's native title refers to gosa, the important midterm exams that all students are required to sit.
A group of twenty high school students partake an elite class gearing them for the college exam. Among them are the rebellious Kang I-na, her timid best friend, Yoon Myong-heo, and the class joker, Kang Hyun, who harbors an affection for I-na. After several strange incidents in which I-na is almost strangled by Cho Beom, forcing him to be taken to a mental facility, and a student being throttled in the restroom, the class is interrupted by a TV showing of the top-ranking student, Min Hye-yeong, being trapped in a glass tank that is slowly filled with water. A voice announces that he will pose questions to the class; should they fail to answer them in a given amount of time, they will all be kidnapped and killed one by one, exemplified when they realized that some of the students have fail to attend the class. Also, the security system have been disabled and should any one them and their two teachers, Hwang Chang-wook and Choi So-yeong, attempt to leave the school, they will be killed nonetheless. Despite their panicked attempts, the class fail to save Hye-yeong.
The class try to leave despite the warning to find that the security guard, Mr. Lee, has been beaten to death offscreen, leaving only Mr. Kim to guard them. The students split up and race to answer the questions while also attempting to find a way out, though they fail to save many of them, including Sohn Dong-hyuk (by being mummified), Cha Jae-wook (by multiple cuts), and Yoon Soo-jin (stuffed in a washing machine). Beom escapes from the facility and attempts to kill I-na, but Hyun shields her from his attack, dying from his impalement wound afterward. Chang-wook kills Beom before he is able to harm other students. I-na discovers to her horror that Myong-heo has also been kidnapped and is hung upside down by a mysterious woman. They fail to save her too, but Chang-wook strangles the woman to death in anger.
A memorial is held for the students killed in the terror attack, but then I-na is kidnapped unnoticed by one. The killer poses one final question for I-na's survival: have the person who killed his daughter step forward and confess. The person is revealed to be Chang-wook as he becomes demented and attempts to strike his axe to the students, but before he could do so, the killer, revealed to be Mr. Kim, reveals himself and kills Chang-wook. Flashbacks reveal that Kim's daughter, Kim Ji-won, whose family is financially troubled, worked hard to become a candidate student for the elite class. However, she discovered that the parents of the killed students bribed Chang-wook to have their children partake in the class and know all of the answers, disqualifying Ji-won. Hurt, she confronted Chang-wook, but he, not wanting her reveal his corruption, strangled her to death. Beom was the only witness to the incident, and he slowly became mad because he felt that Ji-won had been haunting him since then. Mr. Kim and his wife (the woman who hang Myong-heo) thus decided to collaborate on the terror attack. I-na is then freed by So-yeong.
The film closes with I-na seeing that she tops the class ranking. She turns back and flashes briefly to Ji-won, implying that Beom did indeed want to kill her because she has been possessed by Ji-won since the beginning.
- Min Hye-Yeong - drowned in an enclosed glass tank.
- Mr. Lee - Killed by the person offscreen after trying to escape the school.
- Sohn Dong-Hyuk - killed by being burned with candle wax drops, then dropped from the ceiling to the gym floor.
- Cha Jae-Wook - killed by hundreds of cuts, then his mouth was stuffed with flower petals.
- Yoon Soo-Jin - killed by being stuffed into a washing machine, then someone turned it on.
- Kang Hyun - killed by being stabbed repeatedly by Beom, the "crazy" student who is haunted by Ji-won's ghost
- Cho Beom (the crazy student)- killed by being hit in the head with a rock by Hwang Chang-Wook
- Yoon Myung-Hyo - killed by being dropped from the ceiling, head-first.
- Kim Ji-Won's Mother - killed by being strangled by Hwang Chang-Wook
- Hwang Chang-Wook - stabbed and killed by the father of Kim Ji-Won.
Question & Answers
- 1st : Solve all of partial differential equations which are written down to a blackboard, and combine them into one complete answer in time. => Unknown. That equation is a series of partial differential wave equations, not belonged to Cartesian coordinate system. After its solution is revealed, Solution is a form of infinite series function.
- 2nd : No. 2 overall ranking sins committed by the student's mother indicated eora of eight characters to Hanja. And then find the answers to Show the kanji in the auditorium. => 知足不辱 知止不殆(Hangul: 지족불욕 지지불태).
- 3rd : Kim Ji-Won—previously ranked first on spring—died. Complete the sentence associated with it. => "One fine spring day, remember the auditorium." (Hangul: 따뜻한 봄날의 강당을 기억해.)
- 4th : By changing the spellings of the text, please complete the sentence. => I know who killed me. My anger will endure, face the truth. (Hangul: 나는 누가 죽였는지 알고 있다. 나의 분노는 멈추지 않을 것이다. 진실을 대면하라.)
- 5th : Input the number as password by resolving these association with this number sequence. Then, Speak the meaning of the number. You have only one chance. : 5685 -> 2485 -> ? => 1320. (it meaning '1st grade, 3rd class and 20th student, Kim Ji-Won')
- 6th : "2 years ago, on one fine spring day, my daughter was murdered by someone with a bear-shaped key chain.. who is it? Only the culprit would know the answer. Step forward and confess your sin; if you don't, everyone here will die." => Hwang Chang-wook. Kang Yi-na's Teacher. He is killed by Kim Ji-won's father, who, with his wife, was the mastermind behind the murders.
- Lee Beom-soo as Hwang Chang-Wook
- Yoon Jung-hee as Choi So-Yeong
- Nam Gyu-Ri as Kang I-na
- Kim Bum as Kang Hyun
- Son Yeo-eun as Yoon Myung-Hyo
- Ham Eun-jeong as Kim Ji-Won
- Kong Jeong-Hwan as Lee Chi-Young
- Yang Jiwon as Min Hye-Young
- Da Geon as Yoon Soo-Jin
- Kang Won as Song Dong-Hyeok
- Kwon Hyun-sang as Jae Wook
- Son Ho-jun as Jo-Beom
- Yoo Shin-Ae as Park-Jin
- Moon Ban-Ya as Kim Yeong-Jin
- No Haen-Gha as Mi-Jin
- Choe Bae-Young as Hun-Kyung
- Lee Chae-won as Yeom Ji-Yang
- Mon Soon as Hyun Jin-Kim
- Jin Sung as Bak Woo-Ram
- Shin Mu-Jin as Bak Jong-Young
- Lee Doh-Yeon as Bak Chan-Ju
- Choi Soo-Hee as Ji Won's Mother
Shot on HD video with a budget of ₩1.3 billion, Death Bell is the feature film directorial debut of Chang, a former music video director, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Kim Eun-kyeong. The film also marks the acting debut of Nam Gyu-ri, a former singer with K-pop trio SeeYa, and stars veteran comic actor Lee Beom-soo in his first horror film role.
The only Korean horror film to be produced in the summer of 2008, Death Bell made its premiere in July 2008 at the 12th Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. Post-production on the film had been rushed in order to have it ready for the festival, and director Chang had to apologise for the poor state in which it was shown.
Released on 6 August 2008 in 366 theatres nationwide, the film grossed $2,370,785 and received 575,231 admissions on its opening weekend, placing it third at the local box office. By its third week, Death Bell had climbed to second at the box office, and as of 14 September 2008 had grossed a total of $9,274,859.
Death Bell had looked set to become the second most popular Korean horror film after A Tale of Two Sisters, which attracted more than 3 million viewers in 2003; however, admissions of 1,636,149 (as of 14 September 2008) were less than those recorded by R-Point and Wishing Stairs. Nevertheless, the film attracted more than twice the number of viewers required to break even at the box office.
Death Bell was released on DVD on 8 November 2008.
Derek Elley of Variety found Death Bell to have a "neat concept" with "enough shocks and gore to keep genre addicts contented", and commented, "After a fairly conventional half-hour setup, the pic keeps the tension high with tight cutting and a no-flab script that ups the student body count in some especially inventive ways. Solution to the whodunit is less convincing than the lead-up, with a finale that doesn't deliver on expectations. But the journey there is fine, with Lee, better known for comedy, interestingly cast as the students' tough prof." Kyu Hyun Kim of Koreanfilm.org was more critical of the film, saying, "Death Bell annoyingly combines prettified, slick visual filmmaking (but with no real depth) and gag-inducing torture porn excesses: it's simultaneously tepid and lackluster on the one hand and gross and offensive on the other"; he also regarded the screenplay as a "fetid mess" with an unconvincing central premise, but gave credit to the performance of Lee Beom-soo. A review for Twitch also labelled the film's premise as "ridiculous", going on to say, "Lee Beom-Soo certainly tries, and the tempo keeps building decently until the end, but there’s really no vibe to it. It’s just a succession of tortures and murders, with no sense of surprise, no interest... [and] no thematic consciousness whatsoever".
Notes and references
- "Korean Slasher GOSA (DEATH BELL) Coming To DVD!". Twitch, 3 November 2008. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- D'sa, Nigel. "Korean Films at the 12th PiFan". Korean Film Council, 18 July 2008. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- "[K-FILM REVIEWS] 고死 (Death Bell)". Twitch, 4 September 2008. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- Yi Ch’ang-ho. "Gosa is unafraid of big-budget competitors". Korean Film Council, 22 August 2008. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- "He's one of the most recognized comical actors in Korea - Lee Beom-soo!". Arirang. Retrieved on 5 November 2005.
- Elley, Derek. ""Death Bell"". Variety, 2 September 2008. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- Kim, Kyu Hyun. "2008 Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival". Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- "South Korea Box Office August 8–10, 2008". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- South Korean Box Office for Death Bell. "Death Bell (2008) - 고死: 피의 중간고사". HanCinema. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- "South Korea Box Office August 22–24, 2008". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- "South Korea Box Office September 12–14, 2008". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- R-Point received 1,689,000 admissions in 2004. "Ranked Box-Office Results" (2004). Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- Jang Jiyun. "Low Budget Films Gaining Popularity With Good Storylines". Arirang, 24 September 2008. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- "Korean horror DEATH BELL aka Gosa on DVD". 24framespersecond. Retrieved on 5 November 2008.
- Kim, Kyu Hyun. "Death Bell". Koreanfilm.org. Retrieved on 5 Nove,ber 2008.