Koma – 2004

In the most auspicious year of 2004, when “Dawn of the Dead” was remade, Nelly and Tim McGraw thought a duet was a good idea and George W. Bush was elected in the U.S. while Jean-Bernard Aristide was overthrown in Haiti, the Chinese film “Koma” was released. Weird times. We were holding onto the late 90s fashion in the worst way. Sadly, the film looks just like its decade and it was downright distracting inducing more giggles than were probably warranted. Shockingly, that’s not the real issue with this movie.

This is an example of film as entertainment as opposed to literature. It’s a fun popcorn flick to enjoy on a Friday night with friends and junk food. The setup is fairly straightforward with the familiar urban legend of the tourist waking up in a tub of ice missing valuable internal organs. The story unfolded with the protagonist and antagonist interacting at the very beginning and the protagonist subsequently being stalked throughout the remainder of the film. Although the pacing was relatively slow and the protagonist herself warranted little sympathy, the little shocker in the last scene gave me pause.

That aside, something about the film felt oddly familiar when it shouldn’t have and when I realized what it was, I could have kicked myself. The score was borrowed. An entire scene beginning at marker 29:29 where she is slowly realizing a murder may or may not have been in her house removing her body parts is beat for beat the score from “Signs.” Aside from the quality of the strings which clearly sound like tinny samples, the instrumentation is precisely the same. So a cheap version of the Signs score. Although films borrow music from each other all the time, this was too distracting for me personally.

This film functions as entertainment instead of film literature but it wasn’t all that enjoyable a film to watch. Still, it was almost worth it to pick out every scene with borrowed scoring. There’s something oddly satisfying about watching this era of horror when cellular phones with absurdly annoying ringtones were suddenly major plot devices. The great thing about horror is that there’s a place for all of it, even the popcorn fodder like “Koma.”

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