Directed by: Yoon Een-Kyoung. Starring: Se-Yeong Lee, Ji-Young Park, So-yi Park. Runtime: 1h 41 min.
After the death of her mother, Yoo-mi (Se-Yeong Lee) visits a hotel owned by her mother’s friend, Gyeong-seon (Ji-Young Park) in order to hopefully have her take care of her kid sister, Yoon Ji-Yoo (So-yi Park). There, they fall into unexpected mystery and horror as they uncover the secrets at the hotel.
Lingering has some solid atmosphere in its horror as the hotel quickly becomes its own character, with the “ghost story” of what lurks in Room 405, as well as just the unique architectural design of the hotel. That made it feel unique in certain ways – as the design of it is like a cylinder and you can look down into the atrium from each floor.
The score and atmosphere surely feel like the focus of the scares here, and that’s where the most thought into the film comes from. However, the story leaves a lot to be desired. Even at the beginning, a woman being stalked at a bus stop feels disconnected from the story until we learn later how that fits into it. And in the third act things just get more confusing, as it doesn’t bother to explain anything.
I definitely enjoyed the first half of the film more here as a more traditional haunting of the offseason hotel, especially with the urban legend kind-of aspect of the film and the backstory of Room 405. The score and visuals in the film really complements that, too. It stays mostly in that vein in the second half, just with some added layers and added stakes for the characters, especially the sisters. I really enjoyed the relationship between them and the chemistry they grew throughout the film.
Scenes at a carnival between them are nice, until things here get creepy when we see the younger sister Yoon Ji-Yoo talking to someone who we don’t see. It’s also nice that the fact that scenes even outside of the hotel – which is very much the central location of Lingering – can be as rewarding.
There’s also a main setting of a bus stop along the street that works its way into the film throughout, and if Yoo-mi finds herself there in the middle of the night, prepare for some creepy moments. Se-Yeong Lee delivers a strong performance here as Yoo-mi, by the way, as the most interesting character here. It’s all in an offseason hotel haunting that’s totally fine even though it doesn’t really scratch any itch. The narrative feels so somber that this feels too long, and the ending leaves you with more questions than answers.
This film started streaming on Shudder on Nov. 12 in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand.