Every South East Asian horror film made in the wake of Ringu and The Grudge is forever doomed to be seen as inferior mimicry to those films, partly because of the Western misconception that they invented the long-haired pale ghost. It is often unfair as some movies deserve to be seen out of context. Dead Waves is not one of them. Enigmatic TV producer Hiroshi is renowned for his cult show which purportedly performs exorcisms on request. After a flag in the ratings, Hiroshi thanks his lucky stars for a peculiar case of possession which leads him to research the phenomenon of “dead waves” – communication with the dead through the medium of television. Add to this the sudden series of teen suicides attributed to the show, and essentially every cliché has been knackered out.
The issue here is not about originality – surely one can’t be too selective about films advertising themselves as horror – but rather the clumsy handling of the elements. When a film relies heavily on scenes portraying mental illness/possession, it should be of the utmost importance that decent actors are cast in the main roles... apparently not the case here. Our protagonist lacks charisma and energy, to the point that the titular “dead waves” might as well be referring to his brain activity. The greatest disappointment comes from the lazy horror moments. Besides the crawling naked people and a sinister baby, there is no logical instigator of fear here, save for the truly awful song over the credits.