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29th February (2 wol 29 il) (2006)
12th Mar 07
Meet Ji-Yeon. Ji-Yeon is a tollgate ticket girl. Ji-Yeon is not very bright. Rather than run screaming from her booth when all the lights go out at the tollgate and a spooky looking black car pulls up, Ji-Yeon stays around and doesn’t even pee her knickers when the fee handed over by the barely visible car occupant is covered in BLOOD!
Ji-Yeon is told by her ‘so jolly she’s got to be a victim soon’ friend Jong-sook of a legend that every 29th February a murder takes place near the tollgate. As increasingly weird things start to happen and someone who looks like Ji-Yeon but apparently isn’t, is sighted on a regular basis, everything is heading for one of those so obvious its dumb endings. Can you guess what it is yet?
One of a series of four horror movies called imaginatively 4 Horror Tales; the others of which are Forbidden Floor (a.k.a. Hidden Floor), Roommates (a.k.a. D-Day) and Dark Forest, 29th February starts well but soon falls victim to the other movies it has cribbed plot details from. There are no surprises here only that someone bothered to make it at all.
From the word go it is so apparent who the killer is. It soon becomes an exercise in knuckle-biting tedium rather than tension. That the two cops on the case of the murders appear to have failed in sussing out straight away who the killer is when Ji-Yeon keeps telling them that the killer dresses exactly like she does just adds an unwanted comic angle to the proceedings. Normally to find one cop this stupid you’d rent a Pink Panther movie, to find two just beggars belief.
Like ‘date’ movies such as the Friday the 13th and Halloween sequels 29th February has the soundtrack volume jolt the viewer out of their seat rather than use the better old chestnut of building genuine suspense. The killer has that annoying habit of gliding around for ‘shock’ moments as if on a pulley rather than having legs that go up and down.
Director Jeong Jong-hoon makes his feature film debut with 29th February after taking Assistant Director Duties on Phone and The Big Swindle. Jong-hoon is great at creating mood and some of the scenes with the black car lurking by the tollgate with classical music being played inside are nicely eerie. It’s just a shame that he has a great big pudding of a plot to tart up. You can’t polish a turd! Here’s hoping future movies see the director’s strengths matched by more suitable material.
29th February is only likely to surprise someone that has never ever seen a horror movie before, or come to that a movie full-stop. The only reason it has more than one star is that the poster art for the movie is sensationally effective. Just don’t be suckered in by it.