Dead Friend, also known by its original title as The Ghost (which is the literal translation of 령 or "Ryeong"), is a 2004 South Korean horror film. It was written and directed by Kim Tae-gyeong and was his debut feature. It stars Kim Ha-neul as Min Ji-won, Nam Sang-mi as Su-in, Bin (Jeon Hye-bin) as Eun-seo, and Shin Yi as Shin Mi-kyung. Both Kim Ha-neul and Nam Sang-mi previously starred together in Too Beautiful to Lie.
The film centers around Ji-Won, a teenage girl suffering from amnesia, who is being haunted by strange and disturbing visions. Things take a turn for the worst when she discovers her high school friends are being killed off one-by-one by what seems to be a vengeful ghost. It is up to Ji-Won to try to recover her lost memories and find out why the ghost is killing off her friends before it comes looking for her next.
This film contains examples of:
- Alpha Bitch: Ji-won was this in high school, picking on her former friend Su-in.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Su-in, completely by accident, got what she wished for - She becomes Ji-won. Unfortunately for her, there were some nasty concequences.
- Break the Haughty: It was quite fun watching the victims' terror just before they were attacked, considering what haughty bitches they were in the past.
- Catapult Nightmare: Practically every time Ji-Won wakes up.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: Ji-won's high school friend Yu-sung needs to light one up while telling Ji-won about the "bizarre" things she's been seeing.
- Completely Different Title: The original title of the film is 령 (Ryeong), which literally translates to The Ghost. However, the English version changes the title to Dead Friend, which does have a connection to what happens in the film.
- Creepy Child:
- EVERY SINGLE KID IN THIS MOVIE!
- The slow chant "Hide well...Your hair might show. Hide well...Your hair might show" was especially creepy.
- Darkness = Death: Every death happens on a dark night in a dark room. For an extra kicker, it's usually a stormy night too.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Every character in the film. Possibly intentional? The four main girls were particularly creepy whenever they stood in a row and just stared someone down.
- Foreshadowing: The scene where a meek Su-in says "I want to be you", talking about how much she worships her more popular friend Ji-won.
- Ghostly Goals: The ghost had unfinished business to attend to...but not before killing off most of the film's cast.
- Girl Posse: The flashbacks reveal that Ji-won, who is kind and sweet now, used to be the Alpha Bitch head of a Mean Girl posse that picked on Su-in. Why is she nicer now? Because she isn't really Ji-won.
- Grand Theft Me: Su-in's spirit has taken over Ji-won's body, although she doesn't realize that. Ji-won's spirit for her part has possessed her own mother.
- I Wished You Were Dead: Eun-jung wishes a ghost would take her sister away. Guess what happens not five minutes later?
- Kill the Cutie: Poor Su-in, pushed into a river by her bitchy fake friends.
- Nightmare Sequence: Ji-won has more than one.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: The movie's theme song.
- Police Are Useless: While reporting a ghost is pretty ridiculous, it's hard not to shake your head when the police officers laugh in Ji-won's face and call her crazy when there are a bunch of random, unexplainable and downright impossible deaths happening around the city.
- The Reveal: The ending. When Su-in drowned in the river, her spirit took over the body of Ji-won in a case of Grand Theft Me; the character of Ji-won has actually been Su-in throughout the movie. Ji-won's spirit, evicted from her own body, has possessed her mother.
- Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: Played completely straight, with the scary damp ghost girl, until the Twist Ending that puts a spin on the ghost's identity.
- Tomato in the Mirror: The ending reveals that the spirit of Su-in is inhabiting Ji-won's body, and that the ghost is actually the spirit of Ji-won.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: The lovely close up of Eun-seo vomiting buckets and buckets of water.